Democratic establishment prefers uncontested Democratic gubernatorial primary

Yeah, because the Democratic Party of Wisconsin hand-picking the Democratic gubernatorial candidate worked out so well for us in 2010…

Should Madison School Board member Mary Burke run for governor in 2014, she would be the Democratic Party’s frontrunner and could clear all other credible candidates from the field, state party chairman Mike Tate said Wednesday.

“If (Burke) were to run she’d be an instant frontrunner and an exceedingly difficult opponent for Scott Walker,” Tate said, adding that she has put in more work than other potential candidates by traveling the state talking with local activists, business leaders and voters.

According to the same report, DPW Chari Mike Tate told Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, who is also considering running for governor as a Democrat, that he would prefer not to have a contested primary “so that the top Democratic candidate could start raising money as soon as possible.”

Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing a contested Democratic primary. While I understand why Mike Tate wants to be able to have a Democratic gubernatorial candidate focus on raising money to counter Gov. Walker’s prodigious fundraising ability, I’d rather see Democrats end up with a gubernatorial candidate that we can be excited about, rather than a candidate we’re forced to support simply because we had no other options.


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76 thoughts on “Democratic establishment prefers uncontested Democratic gubernatorial primary

  1. Seems to me that you were a big Barrett supporter and didn’t want others running. Also seems with your support of Act 14, you weren’t so keen on democracy. What changed?

    1. capper, I supported Barrett because we had no other candidate, but that didn’t stop me from interviewing the one Democratic opponent Barrett did have. In fact, if you look back through what I’ve written over the years, I’ve long been a proponent of contested primaries. Also-point out where I wrote I didn’t want others running, because I sure don’t remember writing that.

      As for my support of changes to the County Board, I simply don’t see the need for Milwaukee County to stand alone among Wisconsin’s counties with a full time board. Milwaukee County survived for over 100 years with a part-time board.

      And the talking point that a part-time board somehow equals less democracy isn’t any more convincing coming from you than it is coming from Jeff Simpson.

  2. Remember Feingold’s quirky low-budget campaign? But that was in another country, and besides, the guy has given up on Wisconsin. Walker is so close to the top echelon of his rotten, inhuman party, he can taste it. His ambitions will only mean more regressive policies leading up to 2016 if he’s re-elected. Walker is beatable by a candidate with boatloads of money and a broad message. Harris is interesting but if he has no chance of raising money, then it’s pointless. Same for Vinehout. They’re out there shaking the trees so if they back away, then there’s just no funding for Democratic candidates to run state-wide. I can’t imagine they’d back away just on Tate’s say-so. Besides why assume Burke will be no good? Couldn’t many of the same criticisms have applied to Herb Kohl as well?

    1. Herb Kohl had a lot more $ for his time, but $ alone is not what made him a great candidate for U.S. Senate in 1988. Herb Kohl is a former DPW chair and many of the county party leaders were familiar with him, which actually helped Kohl because in that time period a lot of the county party leaders were dairy farmers. Kohl had great business relationships around the state and was really well known and liked in the Milwaukee area.

      Kohl still had to win a contested Democratic primary against some prominent Democrats in Wisconsin- Ed Garvey, Tony Earl, and Doug La Follette. The 1988 general election was not easy, but Kohl was elected US Senator.

      Mary Burke could be a good candidate but she is no Herb Kohl.

  3. Mary Burke voted AGAINST a reasonable pay raise for Madison teachers and a property tax increase that was necessary to replace the money that Scott Walker took away from the second-largest school district in Wisconsin. Burke is effectively a supporter of Scott Walker’s War on Public Education in Wisconsin.

    The only reason that Mary Burke is even contemplating running against Scott Walker is because she knows that Karen Vieth and Kati Walsh are going to run a pro-public education candidate against her if she runs for re-election to the Madison School Board, and Burke would probably lose re-election.

    1. Of course she did because no one votes for a tax increase right before they run for state-wide office. Unless they’re a moron. And it certainly didn’t impact the outcome. BTW, your casual assumption that Madison homeowners are a well to keep going to time and again is precisely why no Progressive candidate can win state-wide For the foreseeable future. The voters will reject anyone advocating higher taxes. The message must be growth, growth, growth.

      1. Emma, I agree 1,000%.

        The deficit hawks have destroyed the economy. The numbers don’t lie.

        It’s not government deficits that are dragging down the economy, it’s “lost output.”

        DEMAND is slack. We need a holiday from the highly regressive payroll tax. That would be a 7.5% raise to every U.S. worker. It would also give 7.5% back to their employers. Every dollar earned above around $107,000 is EXEMPT from the payroll tax. That’s what makes it so regressive.

        “Balanced budgets,” are the expressway to poverty. When the economy is at full employment and there’s INFLATIONARY pressure, THEN you raise taxes. Right now we need “counter-cyclical” investment from the FEDERAL government. And it cannot be to Wall Street for “paper profits.” It has to be for infrastructure investment, green supply chains, a FEDERAL job guarantee at the minimum wage for every able-bodied American who wants to work , health care, education, research….

        Democrats cannot be the party of high taxes and expect to win elections.

      2. Emma, I agree nobody votes to raise taxes before an election. The issue here is she could have voted for the raise and against the taxes. There were two different votes on the two different issue. She didn’t even bother to play both sides, she didn’t abstain, she flat out voted against public workers. That doesn’t inspire me to go bust my ass knocking doors, making calls and working the campaign. While money may be key in elections, no Democrat in Wisconsin is going to compete with Walker in the money game even if they do put 5 million into the race personally so when you are already down in the financial game you probably shouldn’t alienate your likely campaign volunteers.

        The fact is this statement by Tate trying to kill a primary where we get the chance to elect an actual progressive, run on some ideas, listen to the base and maybe have a meaningful conversation about government and public services is incredibly disappointing. I can’t imagine how he managed to keep his job leading the party considering his attitude towards actual Democrats and his track record of electing anyone at all.

        1. She abstained on the budget and voted no on the tax levy, correct? Again, probably the correct tactic prior to announcing for state-wide office. Too bad for the teachers getting 1.5 percent but everyone up and down the state is getting shafted by their employers and now teachers are too. Doesn’t make it right, just means we have to try to change the system for everyone. Don’t like her personally, then help get more Progressives elected to the legislature instead.

          1. Emma,

            Growth, growth, growth is the lie. Therefore, it shouldn’t be the message and it shouldn’t be the goal. We have historical growth, growth, growth. Growth and certainly growth alone is not what sustains a society of individuals. The message should consist of undoing the “tax-hate” propaganda. I’m unfamiliar with the specifics that you, Aaron, and Paul refer, that said – If Burke voted against a tax levy for political expediency prior to an election (as you suggest) then she’s not governing and she’s unfit to govern. She doesn’t have the strength to do what needs to be done. You are correct when you say that we must change the system for everyone and the place that change must occur first is the public sector. The public sector must serve as the template otherwise we will be in a never-ending race to the bottom.

            1. So tax WI families more for public workers’ raises and worry later about whether those families are financially secure? You realize that’s completely insane, right? Good luck getting anyone past the idea of paying more taxes while Wisconsin lags in so many economic indicators. A new governor will have to leave the tax cut in place.

              1. Emma,

                Cutting taxes and devastating the take home pay of public workers has been the utterly predictable cause of the economic problems in Wisconsin. We are a consumer based economy and nobody can afford to consume. Look at Minnesota, they increased taxes and they are doing fantastic compared to us. They have Democratic control of every branch of government after campaigning for public workers, public services, increased progressive taxation and the value of government along with gay marriage and a host of social issues. It is not impossible to win elections as a principled and consistent liberal. You may think the tactic appropriate but it would absolutely cost her my support. I won’t make calls, knock doors or send money to anyone who isn’t with public workers.

                1. Wisconsin’s economy went down the tubes before not after Walker went after public workers. It didn’t help and it was vengeful, it made things worse, but it’s not the cause. A principled liberal or centrist would actually want to help all working families and they wouldn’t carve out a special group for their attention. Public workers advocating only their own personal economic interests will be a mill stone around any candidate’s neck this election. Public workers advocating a broad message will not.

                  1. Before Act 10 and the budget were passed Wisconsin was 11th in job creation. We’ve seen where we are since Walker passed his budget and how far we have been left behind compared to other states in the region. Yes the economy was in trouble before Act 10, but so was everyone else’s economy in the region. That is no longer the case. We have missed most of the recovery when you look at Wisconsin in the context of it’s neighbors. When Act 10 was examined by economists they clearly predicted that it would cause massive damage and not just to public workers. The reports are out there by the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future and they were spot on.

                    However, I in no way advocate for any politicians speaking solely to the interests of public workers and have never said anything to that effect. My position is simply that ignoring the interests of public workers is stupid for anyone running as a Democrat in Wisconsin, not to mention how bright it is to actually vote against them. I also think it is funny for you to call anyone voting against necessary tax cuts simply for politics “principled”. A principle politician would vote in line with their beliefs and the needs of the community regardless of the politics.

              2. Emma,

                What’s insane is not candidly and frankly discussing taxation or public education with your constituents or working with them to devise creative solutions to provide adequate public education which might include tapping the private sector. Insane is not articulating that starving the beast isn’t going to make families more secure. Starving the beast doesn’t save anything. Insane is not discussing with your constituents that it isn’t teachers who are exploiting and starving them, it is their corrupted state government and the private sector who are draining them in the long and short terms. Now, whether or not Mary Burke attempted to do any of that I don’t know. As I said, I’m not familiar with the situation so I’m out of my element. But what’s insane is thinking one can govern a municipality, a state, or a nation without revenue and that historically low taxation is somehow sustainable. You’re perpetuating Walker’s divide and conquer strategy. You should be ashamed.

                1. PJ,

                  fwiw, under the hashtag #MMT (Modern Monetary Theory), there are a bunch of smart people @wbmosler @stephaniekelton … who argue quite cogently that taxes do NOT fund the FEDERAL government. The role of taxes, and this comes right from Paul Sammuelson’s Economics text book, is to “manage aggregate demand.” That’s a fancy way of saying “manage inflation.”

                  “The Fable of Moral Arithmetic” is an excellent and accessible introduction into a very complex topic.

                  Inflation, food, technology, clean water, and other natural resources are all REAL constraints on the economy. The fiat currency (in the U.S. that’s the dollar) is not. Through the use of “functional finance,” the currency can help husband REAL constraints. From there you get low-tax conservatives (Mosler, Kelton,… #MMT) arguing for “liberal” solutions like universal health care coverage, a federal, minimum wage job guarantee, much greater investments in education and research….

                  Mosler gave this short speech to conservative Dems in Dallas in 2010

                  Unfortunately, the “deficit hawks” control the media and both parties. Per Emma’s point about the need for growth, the deficit hawks are strangling the economy.

                  Mosler uses the analogy of butter to unemployed workers. If you leave butter out too long, it becomes rancid. If workers are unemployed too long, their skills deteriorate and they become unemployable. That’s why he’s so adamant about the need for the FEDERAL government to be “the employer of last resort,” and that acts as a buffer stock of workers for the private sector.

                  What matters is sustainable productivity. The economy must grow, and those advances have to be shared with workers. Mosler, Kelton, #MMT see income disparity as a very real threat brought on by the deficit hawk’s archaic understanding of money.

                  Mosler, Kelton, #MMT are very big on FEDERAL block grants to the states. They emphasize on LOCAL control.

                  Even if a lot of Dems don’t buy #MMT, imho, there’s still widespread agreement that Milton Freidman’s economics have been completely debunked. They just flat don’t work. We’re all Keynesians now.

                  1. JC,

                    Agreed. We should be paying more attention to MMT. As you point out, Mosler draws some sensible conclusions about the role of the Fed, no argument there. But, the role of the Fed isn’t the only role the government plays, or should I say, could play. We will have to agree to disagree on that point and probably on Mosler when he posits a structural explanation for our labor woes; it is a recipe for inaction and an acquiescence to subservience. And it’s the same case Obama and every Conservative-Libertarian makes – Mosler just uses different rhetoric to express it. We will have to agree to disagree on government’s position in the economy – first or last resort and/or continual involvement in between resorts. As to growth, I’d be interested in how you scale the macroeconomic principles you’ve outlined to the state level.

                    As to Mosler’s definition of traditional Democratic values – of the Jeffersonian variety in particular – he’s so off the mark that the mark is no longer visible. Limited government didn’t refer to the physical size of the governing apparatus nor its level of activity. Limited government refers solely to the structural concentration of power and the degree of representative aspect. Globalized trade existed for thousands of years prior to the emerging capitalism in the 18th century – of which the Founders were quite aware and what they sought to mitigate – even the staunchest Hamiltonians and Hamilton himself. Competitive markets were not a solution by any means if competition implied pitting states or economic sectors against one another. More to the point, Mosler (and we as a society) are only discussing one sector dominating the entire economy – the financialization of the economy – which Jefferson and Madison for that matter staunchly opposed. A society of individuals all with diverse talents (but particularly agriculturalists – slave owning and non) beholden to capitalization was precisely what Jefferson sought to avoid. So, in every sense, Mosler isn’t even speaking the same language as Jefferson. That’s not to say he’s altogether incorrect in his explanation of macroeconomics, but he is incorrect in ascribing the context of financialization or capitalization in any iteration as a Jeffersonian value. He’s quite wrong about core values being lower taxes – he’d do well to remember that when George Washington was exiting the presidency he warned against embracing fervent Anti-Taxation as one of the death knells of the Republic. Anti-Taxation was never a core value nor an implied component when creating the new government and the new society. Progressive taxation was valued as was taxing only the wealthy. But not low taxation – the core issue following the Revolution and through the Constitutional Convention debates was revenue generation and government intervention into “competitive” markets that were devastating the livelihoods of average people. Mosler may value competitive markets, so-called fiscal responsibility, and so-called limited government but he’s not expressing founding values. What he’s doing here looks like the kind of redefinition of Progressivism instantiated by the DLC. Altogether Mosler looks more like a DLC-Clintonian. His overall stance on the economy resembles Obama’s pro-growth, market-driven, private sector-oriented approach than not. So his shrill admonitions are a bit dishonest if you ask me, certainly his attempt to redefine Progressive founding ideals is either dishonest or a Conservative-Libertarian inspired misconception. Either way, he articulates wrong-headed ideals in the same way that Obama and other Conservative Democrats do.

                    Fiscal responsibility has a lovely ring to it, but is a meaningless term if it applies only to cutting and/or resistance to spending, and/or it doesn’t pragmatically address revenue generation, redistribution and active creation of a public commons. The latter items being more in alignment with fiscal responsibility as understood in an 18th century context by both Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians alike. Likewise, a payroll tax holiday, of course, enjoys a degree of surface appeal if Mosler’s calculations can be taken at face value. I’m not expressing outright rejection to it, but… I would add that a while a payroll tax holiday might make some sense as one component in an integrated agenda, it does not make sense in isolation. And it isn’t a permanent solution. And, if I’m not mistaken, Mosler envisions a payroll tax holiday that differs from the most recent payroll tax holidays by eliminating contributions from both employer and employee. I could be wrong on that, but I believe in the most recent tax holidays from 2010-2012 employer contributions to the payroll tax remained constant and the 2% cut from employees resulted in a “savings” (an incorrect use of the term, admitted) of about 1000 per year for an individual income of $50,000. If Mosler is suggesting that the Social Security withholding tax rate be reduced by 15 percentage points, meaning to zero and both employee and employer contributions be reduced by that amount, then I question its validity. It looks like a faux-populist device for defunding Social Security. And it looks pretty regressive. Lifting the cap is probably enough. I guess I’m also kind of confused as to which withholding level Mosler refers. If it’s both employee and employer I should think he means the PAYG, but he isn’t clear on that. No reasonable judgment can be rendered if unqualified by an entire explication of how the withholding system works, how it is supposed to work, and what it is intended to achieve.

                    Mosler also applies the magical thinking of competitive markets to suggest a link that correlates lower business taxes directly with lower prices. Overly dependently so. However, there’s no mechanism here to ensure that businesses will or must do anything differently than they have been doing in any sphere – be it pricing or raising wages or providing benefits or any supply-side action that might even remotely benefit individuals in the long or short terms with respect to stability. The invisible hand isn’t doing its job. There’s nothing inherently linkable to a payroll tax cut and lower consumer prices. I’d be more interested in Mosler’s ideas of what we do with one trillion dollars in revenue. And it would appear to me given his dichotomous stance on financial reform, the interests he’s protecting are big finance, big banks, and big business; he’s doing so by implying a populous veneer.

                    I didn’t finish reading Mosler’s speech so bear that in mind when evaluating my comments. I only skimmed the second half. I’m somewhat familiar with his work, though, and I tend to find it a little disjointed. He’s not altogether off in every respect, but I do think his overconfidence in competitive markets is his weak point. We may have to agree to disagree on the overall value of Mosler’s perspective.

                    Perhaps if there is another post more applicable to Mosler and macroeconomics you can clarify further, unless you have some ideas for how a federal payroll tax cut that eliminates the Social Security revenue stream applies to state-level governance. This is an important matter, JC, but I’m not sure it’s quite fair to hijack the thread away from the governor’s race in Wisconsin to discuss it.

                    Also, though you’ve probably heard by now, the DOJ gave some leeway for states and their obligations to federal marijuana laws. Probably not as extensive as you’d like, but thought you might be interested in the event you hadn’t heard the news:


                    1. Depends on what you mean by borrow, I suppose. You mean the war bonds and the withholding tax? I’ll bite so you can spout, but please try not to drag the thread too far astray.

                      Hope you liked the marijuana link.

                2. I rather think it’s insane to judge a candidate before you’ve studied her positions, as you admitted in your last post. Or maybe it’s just immature. If you don’t want to give her a chance then don’t. Me? I’m prepared to listen and I only expect progress in small steps. The deficit hawk, pro-austerity, tax cut types have all the power in our state and the electorate here bought in and will only allow gradual movement back to the center for now. We could focus more on the long- term, get more progressives in the legislature and then we’ll really get somewhere!

                  1. Emma,

                    I conceded that I didn’t know enough about Burke to form an opinion about her. I don’t have an opinion about her. My remarks about her actions were based solely on information given here by you and others. When I receive more information about her, I’ll revise. If keeping one’s mind open while drawing upon one’s knowledge and experience is insane and immature, then I’ll just sit over here at the kid’s table for a nice vantage point while watching centrist “adults” insensibly cannibalize their own citizenry. Perhaps preparing to listen isn’t so key as actively listening now. I’m actively listening in the here and now. I’m not preparing to listen. I’m listening. And I’ll listen to you – In your view, why would Mary Burke make a good governor?

                    You seem to have taken an opposite tack now. Earlier you expressed such urgency about evil with respect to parents watching their children starve but now your expectation is progress in small steps. I’m trying to put this together. So, we should expect parents to watch their children starve now, and for the next decade, and for another two generations because our expectation of progress is slow… And when should we be outraged? Now or in the future? Should I be making some distinction here between families? Or should I be outraged at some families and not others? And taxes = starving children. Sounds a little insane to me. Sounds undiscerning. Sounds exactly like the kind of blurred thinking that permeates a population saturated with obfuscating propaganda.

                    1. We should do what it takes to get Walker out. Wisconsin’s electorate will only allow this on centrist terms and that means progress will be gradual. I don’t particularly like it, either.

                    2. The pace of change is what we make it, Emma. If you want to see rapid progress, drop the inertia.

                      You’ve twice succumbed to Divide and Conquer. By doing so you’re serving up Walker’s second term on a silver platter. Democratic Centrism didn’t defeat Walker – twice. Nationally in 2012, Democratic Centrism shifted “Independents” to Romney. Your electorate theory isn’t supported by empiricism. You’re perpetuating an archaic version of “conventional wisdom” that no longer applies.

                      And Big Money didn’t win a heck of a lot for the Radical Right Wing in 2012 either. Karl Rove’s epic failures at making good on big money investments into electoral politics just might change the way Big Money invests in elections, which might play to our advantage. If Walker becomes too toxic or too risky an investment the money fountain might not pour forth in the deluge it did previously. A populist groundswell can defeat Big Money. It isn’t easy, but it’s doable. It can’t be done by retrenchment and it certainly can’t be done by succumbing to divide and conquer.

                      You’re also assuming the electorate can only understand simplistic solutions to complex problems when you insist on messaging with easy Conservative memes. Give them more credit.

              3. Because clearly the tax cuts Scott Walker and the rubber-stamp Republicans have implemented have been so successful at creating jobs and/or stimulating our state’s economy.

  4. Who is the “pro-public” or “pro-union” candidate for Governor? Is there a consensus on that?

    1. Ben, I’d like to see Wisconsin progressives hold a “Progressives Against Mary Burke” convention somewhere in Wisconsin. Draft up a progressive platform, have a bunch of people speak at the convention, and convince someone who has a progressive vision for Wisconsin to run against Scott Walker as a Democrat.

      1. I’d support that. Whether it’s one candidate or many, the platform should be well defined. In my view, anyway.

        Winning elections is great! But knowing what to do next is equally important.

        1. Ben, I had no idea you were a “progressive.”

          I thought you were anti-choice. Are you now pro-choice?

  5. I’m not saying this is a good idea, but I’ll just throw it out.

    Progressives could vote for Burke without sending her any money or knocking on doors…..

    Instead, could concentrate their financial resources and “sweat equity,” on state Senate races.

    1. And on yours and my home district levels, continually hammering home the R legislator’s (Senate and Assembly) unbroken capitulation to ALEC/Walker over regular working people affiliated with either party.

      Still on several Dem mailing lists from affiliation during the recalls, I got another request for donations to air an annoyingly simplistic High School level, TV commercial about Walker’s fail on creating jobs. Where have I heard that before.

      Not immediately mentioning corporate/state backed fascist militarism being illegally allowed in our state, not coming out immediately with the state R’s war on women, on the poor, on our public schools on our natural environment and on voting rights and the on out of control cops at the capitol, who the hell does the DPW think they are going to influence into voting or contributing money to defeat Walker with this third time’s a charm, regurgitated milquetoast cuisine.

      Looks like DPW fear of offending a corporate D upper class who are slightly p-o’ed that they are not getting the state gravy presently flowing to the R campaign donors and insiders, or are they just really not that bright?

      1. Either via ballot initiative or candidate, imho, marijuana/hemp legalization has to be on the ballot. It’s a huge GOTV issue and I think will help the Dem candidate.

        I know law enforcement unions will be upset, but just a candidate talking about it (or a ballot initiative) would put a lot of pressure on the GOP to support it.

        Although the connection to pot is not immediately apparent, one of the reasons we lost thousands of commercial fishing jobs in Lake Michigan is that there are no perch. “The Decline of a Once-Great Fishery”

        “Can Lake Michigan perch be revived?”

        “The mussels are eating the food the zooplankton need,” said John Janssen, professor at UW-Milwaukee’s Great Lakes WATER Institute. “And if the zooplankton aren’t there, the young perch can’t make it.”

        “It isn’t clear it would help,” said Mike Staggs, DNR fisheries chief. “And with Lake Michigan, there is the matter of scale. How many perch would need to be stocked to even be noticeable?

        The lack of ideas or funding for even experiments on perch management is especially noticeable this year….”

        I’m not sure how “young” perch have to be survive, but whatever the interval, it’s shorter than what Sweet Water Organics tried unsuccessfully to manage. My sense is from watching the great videos at Bright Agrotech that young perch will take up less room than adults, but their metabolisms run faster meaning they need more oxygen, and generate more waste/ammonia, the poisonous front-end of the nitrogen cycle.

        If you’re growing a cash crop like marijuana, are there synergies with raising perch for stocking in Lake Michigan?

        If anyone knows what the DNR hatcheries currently do with the fish waste in their water, that might be a starting point for a “working prototype,” with medical marijuana.

        Perch might not be the ideal fish for aquaponics, but imho aquaponics and marijuana make a helluva lot of sense for Wisconsin.

  6. Tate has got to stop with the calculating, insider game. You know what raises a lot of money? Inspiring candidates like the 2008 Barack Obama and Elizabeth Watren’s campaign in 2012. Message needs to be the key, not money.

    In addition, an unknown quantity like Mary Burke doesn’t deserved the field to be cleared for her. Tammy Baldwin had 20 years of legislative background and support when she ran for Senate, Burke has nothing like that.

    Lets have the Dem VOTERS test and decide the candidate, and define themselves in the Summer of 2014. And the extra bonus from a primary? It’s be more likely to boot clowns like David Clarke and Brett Hulsey out in the same election.

    1. Speaking of the message, the one given in an email update by my county’s D leadership last spring, while initially getting schooled on the 72-county game plan from DPW, prior to any discussion with local membership, was that nothing potentially offensive was going to be said about the current local R candidates, so that they, the R party, would have nothing to use against the D candidates in the next election cycle.

      “Don’t give them anything to use against us.”

      Now that is an election winning slogan.

    2. Obama and Warren both came from states with high income liberals, corporate liberals and possessed the national name recognition to raise money across the country. The high income WI zips mostly vote Republican, the business community has abandoned Dem’s (although Harris may have the right connections). Could Vinehout or Harris raise enough money out of state? I don’t know but that’s probably what they’re both evaluating while they decide. Neither seem to lack courage. It will just come down to money.

      1. Yeah, it’ll come down to money, and there’s not a single one of the talked-about Democratic gubernatorial candidates who’ll be able to match Scott Walker’s fundraising ability.

        Sure, Burke can pony up some of her own cash for her campaign, but I doubt she has enough loot laying around to match Walker dollar for dollar.

        Ultimately, money isn’t going to beat Scott Walker; however a candidate with a great message and the ability to effectively communicate that message might just be able to.

  7. It seems to me that Tate is saying the only qualification Mary Burke has is her big bucks.

    That’s not good enough for me! We already have a Koch-rich, but incompetent, governor. Mary Burke has to prove through the primary process she has more brain and guts and stands stands head and shoulders above all other governor wannabes.

    In the Olympics, even the richest athlete has to qualify for the finals.

    Let the games, oops I mean, the primary begin.

    1. I think Tate’s saying the only way to win is to accumulate enough money. It’s too bad but it’s almost certainly true. How else to win the centrist and Independent vote? Mary may indeed prove herself. For a bunch of people willing to take a community organizer, one term Senator on faith to run the country, you’re awfully negative.

      1. Hey, EmmaR, I was and still am a Hillary guy. She was my primary pick, I voted for Obama in the finals over a Vice Prez Palin a heartbeat away from a promotion.

  8. I’m not a fan of contested primaries just for the sake of contested primaries. A contested primary is a tactical maneuver only. Alison Lundergren-Grimes is a perfect case in point. There’s really nothing to be gained in diluting the resources in that race. Contested primaries only make sense with a deep bench filled with contenders who can genuinely compete on all fronts. They don’t make sense in a situation with no candidates in a short race or one excellent candidate regardless the campaign time. Otherwise the primary is just a waste of resources and messaging-persuasion time. And like the recall effort, time is of the essence. We need a candidate now who will take on Walker now, and with a clearly differentiated agenda. Frankly, I can’t imagine any serious candidate being “undecided” at this juncture.

    If contested primary is the way to go, then Aaron’s got the seeds of a good plan. A Progressively derived agenda to which candidates must meet seems the most sensible and the best plan in terms of finding a candidate who will not only beat Walker, but govern well. Progressive activists need to develop the platform, and in so doing, remember what Democrats on the national stage forgot – Progressivism isn’t defined by the social agenda – women’s rights, LGBT rights, voter rights, worker’s rights, strengthening unionization etc. – all of that is a must-be-given portion of the platform. All Democratic candidates should be able to articulate a common-sense opposition to the radicalized regressive governance of the right. Democratic candidates shouldn’t waste time debating it amongst themselves. And they shouldn’t waste time running on Conservative platforms.

    Wisconsin must reclaim Progressivism economically by reviving Progressivism’s roots (and its roots in founding ideals) by undoing the demonization of government – making the case for the role of government and the public sector. The role of government, after all, is to tax and spend for the purposes of creating a public sector in which all contribute and from which all withdraw benefit. Walker’s opponent must be clearly differentiated from Walker’s low-tax, small-government agenda. Progressives always have and always should stand for active government. Progressives always have and always should stand against the encroachment of a private sector over which the public sector has no control. Progressives shouldn’t blur any distinctions between agendas. Progressives aren’t Libertarians and Progressives aren’t Conservatives and Progressive grass roots shouldn’t accept either shade of these in any Progressive candidate. Doing so is precisely how we got a Democratic Establishment beholden to the wealthy elite and global corporate interests rather than the interests of We The People.

    Ultimately, the two factors that lost the recall, in my estimation, were lack of a clearly differentiated agenda and a candidate who entered onto Walker’s field too late in the game. Ultimately, if the Democratic candidate loses to Walker a second time, that candidate must lose with agenda-integrity intact. A loss doesn’t mean a losing agenda, and that conflation should be avoided if Democrats really want to win. Democrats must govern once they win, and they must govern with sharp difference.

    The Southern state strategy for Progressives is to occupy the Democratic establishment. Perhaps it’s a lesson to be learned here and now. If the Democratic Establishment in Wisconsin isn’t what you want it to be, then you’ve got to join the Democratic Party to change it from within. That certainly seems to be the success strategy in the most Progressive communities around the country. I’m not suggesting that is the winning strategy for beating Walker – just pointing it out. Grass roots takes on myriad forms.

    Also, I’d like to know if the Democratic Governor’s Association has any strategies for reversing the 2010 Tea Party wave. Might make a difference for Progressive grass roots mobilization.

    1. D’you suppose losing with agenda-integrity intact will be any consolation to parents watching their children starve? I would argue the number one priority is to beat Walker whatever it takes. It’s pure evil to risk Wisconsin families’ livelihoods and basic needs over some type of ideological purity test from the left after years of ideological purity from the right. You should be ashamed.

      1. Emma,

        If the livelihoods of Wisconsin families are subject to a DLC-type of agenda or a Libertarian agenda, or a Blue Dog agenda, then Wisconsin will remain in the same rut it would be in under Walker’s thumb. It isn’t much consolation to win if Conservative governance is maintained but it has a Democratic (large D) sheen to it. It is the 21st century, Emma. To accept a candidate who is tepid on women’s rights, LGBT rights, voting rights, wealth inequality and specifically the disparities of wealth with respect to race in order to pander to the Conservative portions of the electorate perpetuates Conservative governance, and it just might be out of step with what’s happening in the rest of the country. You instantiate an inaccurate frame. The only way to win is with a winning strategy for governance combined with a winning method to message it. And beating Walker in 2014 should be regarded as tactical, not strategical – in other words, one step toward long term governance of Wisconsin – governing in the interests of the people. Walker is only a puppet for a broader Conservative agenda. Your admonishment of me is short sighted. Walker’s agenda isn’t the only one that will result in parents watching their children starve.

        Walker’s candidacy as governor has never been challenged by an economic agenda sharply distinct from his Conservative one. He will not be defeated without it. Nor will any of the Koch-puppets to follow in elections to come. Ultimately, Emma, the candidate who beats Walker must not only beat him but govern better. It is no consolation for Wisconsin families or – women, white women, Latinas, Latinos, African American women, African American men, Native American women, Native American men, all Wisconsin citizens who identify as LGBT, and all who are marginalized by the Conservative social agenda… it is no consolation to any of them to seat a governor with even remotely regressive tendencies who is out of step with futurity and who will not undo regressive policies that hold everyone back. In some sense we are in the very same position we were in during the recall and the 2010 midterms. What we need to do and how we need to do it hasn’t changed. You might want to ponder evil a little more deeply, and in so doing think about who you are sacrificing to the altar of non-descript platitudes.

        1. I disagree entirely that a centrist platform can’t take a bite out of income inequality and I would challenge you to find many centrists who are tepid on women’s, LGBT, and minority rights – and choosing not to fight when you know losing is inevitable doesn’t count. I see nothing in Burke’s career to make me think she isn’t capable of governing well and responsibly and running a clean ship. That would put us far ahead of where we are today. While I agree 100 percent that Progressive policies have the potential to do more good than centrist policies, no overt Progressive stands a chance of winning the votes needed to beat Walker in the near-term. If Vinehout runs, she will cast herself as a problem-solver, willing to find common ground, and listen to all ideas, i.e., she’ll sound very much like a centrist. And yeah, I think litmus tests are pure evil and serve only the narrow interests and ego of ideologues versus real families. No Democratic candidate should be forced to march in lock-step with a bunch of activists. Nor should any Republican for that matter, but that ship sailed long ago.

          1. Emma,

            Plenty of centrists are tepid on women’s rights, LGBT rights, and minority rights – some of them called Blue Dogs. Their numbers are dwindling in Congress because their position is dwindling among the electorate. I believe the Blue Dog caucus is down to a whopping 15 members. The Blue Dog coalition is an archaic remnant just as Regressive Conservatism is an archaic remnant. If a centrist platform could take a bite out of inequality we’d see large chunks eaten away by now. Centrism doesn’t take a bite out of inequality because it promotes Trickle-Down economics from the Left end of the spectrum. That’s not what we need. Trickle-Down is not solely a Right-Wing phenomenon. It is a strategy fully entrenched among Democratic Centrists and the Center-Right; it is abdication of governance, and it is why this nation has continued to decline for decades.

            I didn’t voice any opposition to Burke specifically. You make a fair point regarding her ability to organize and raise funds, and it’s an important point given Walker’s opponent will be standing off against a well-funded machine. I don’t know enough about Burke to make a decision about her. But, if her agenda is centrist and she doesn’t support doing what needs to be done then her candidacy should be called into question. If her agenda is centrist, she’ll be hard pressed differentiating herself from Walker.

            Keep an eye out for Steve Carlson’s upcoming posts regarding an overt Progressive agenda and messaging. No doubt we’ll have more to flesh out then. With that said, a caveat – we shouldn’t get lulled into the Republican trap of disguising the agenda either. We have to recalibrate back to objective reality from a political environment inundated by propaganda which has largely sought to slaughter Progressivism and Progressive ideals. Again, Walker in 2014 isn’t the obstacle. Walker’s agenda isn’t his own. It is Walker’s agenda that needs to be defeated. Walker can only be defeated with an alternative agenda that genuinely moves Wisconsin forward.

            I like Vinehout just fine. But to say that casting oneself as a problem-solver, willing to find common ground, and listen to all ideas…. are exclusively centrist characteristics is a more than a bit mincing. I’d say that sounds more like a Progressive. Progressives do that too. You’re simply attempting to cast rigidity where it doesn’t belong. Compromise has its place. But it isn’t the end-all, be-all of governance, especially not now, in an environment of overt political warfare being waged from the Right. More so than anything voters don’t want wishy washy. They want pro-active solutions and voters don’t want to be sold out in unnecessary compromise.

            No Democratic candidate should march lock step with activists if those activists don’t have viable solutions to our woes and that candidate is not in agreement with those solutions. At the same time, no voter should have to be sacrificed on the altar of compromise either. It’s a matter of alignment not Tea Party lunacy. Be wary of the conflation. And, of course, a candidate once elected should use his/her best judgment – that’s the kicker. Too many Democrats lose good judgment in favor of political expediency that results in damage more difficult to undo than not. John Casper gave a good example of one – Tammy Baldwin. It isn’t as if we as a society can’t find the solutions. We can. We do. We have. Our challenge now is implementing them while simultaneously keeping social regressives and elite global interests from assuming complete control.

            1. I would rather have Walker reelected and have the whole state collapse around the GOP than a conservo dem get put in only to continue the same failed ideology. Tax cuts for the rich are poisonous. Dismantling public assets is criminal. Overturning the gay marriage ban is dead in the water with the completely gerrymandered districts in place.

    2. I was with you a bit until, “The Southern strategy…” paragraph. LOL, change the party from within.

      A true progressive, even a moderate, small “d,” candidate with an established record of integrity and honesty with the citizens of this state, knowledge about our most pressing state issues, willing to lead and to follow the state constitution would have a better chance of winning against Walker than attempting to change the party from within, election money availability notwithstanding.

      Too many unelected little generals at the local party level disallowing discussion of anything that might, “reek,” (to them) of populist leanings.

      1. NQ,

        I’m just pointing out one school of thought on effecting Progressive change. Occupying the establishment is just one way of looking at it – enough voices who want to see populist change will make that change within the party given the effort. Eventually the local party affiliates will be populated by populous voices if those voices choose to alter the establishment from within. I’m not offering it as a candidate strategy, but as a grass roots strategy in general. Nor am I endorsing it whole heartedly – it certainly makes theoretical sense and also is a strategy that can boast demonstrative success. I think it might be a viable option for activists who like to work from the inside out. And we probably need both – activists who effect change from within and those who effect change from without.

  9. If Mark Harris wants to help democrats beat Walker he has to run. So does Kathleen Vinehout. Tate and the people he answers to in DC have already conceded this election and they have to be ignored if we’re going to have any chance at all.

    And we’re going to have to take matters into our own hands too. We can’t count on the party leadership to make this happen. But if we demonstrate a willingness to do the extraordinary we might be able to change their minds. That’s our best bet. I’ll write more about this after the holiday weekend.

    1. Tate does not “answer” to people in DC. Those people think Tate is a joke and incompetent for the way the State Party screwed up two years of recalls. It is no accident that the only successes in Wisconsin in 2012 were by two candidates that did their own thing outside of the state party infrastructure, Obama and Baldwin.

      1. Stan, with all due respect, imho, Tate’s Obama’s guy.

        Again, imho, the whole point of the Recall, other than to generate ad revenue for Wisconsin media, was to deliver Wisconsin to Obama in November 2012. If Obama had campaigned with Barrett, Tom could have raised more money and beaten Walker. That was too polarizing for the President, he didn’t want to take the risk.

        IMHO, Sen. Baldwin was a huge disappointment in the House. She’s in one of the safest Dem districts in the country. Everyone assumes she’s liberal, because she’s “out” as a lesbian. During the Obamacare debate, she stood by while an anti-choice Dem, Bart Stupak, with just SEVEN votes made it more expensive for poor women to get abortions.

        Not only should she have been leading the House Progressive caucus to block Stupak, they should have been forcing Obama to include a “public option,” with Obamacare. That would have eliminated the “mandate” which everyone hates, because it FORCES Americans to buy LOUSY coverage. The “public option,” would have been competition for the health care oligopoly. That’s why they opposed it. That’s why Obama caved on it. The public option would have allowed Americans to buy into Medicare.

        I assume by caving on those issues, she bought support from Obama for her Senate run.

        On her last day in the House, she voted to END the holiday on the payroll tax, which will go down in history as one of the dumbest votes ever. That cut every American worker’s paycheck by 7.5% and it cut their employer’s income by 7.5%. GOP will hang that “fiscal cliff” vote around the neck of every Democrat up for election in 2014 and they should.

        Obama’s been dying to cut Social Security and veteran’s benefits. He wants to “chain the CPI,” which means those life-saving benefits will NOT rise with inflation.

        Baldwin should have been leading the charge against the President cutting Social Security, instead and most of the rest of the Democrats were silent.

        I sent Tammy money and I voted for her. She was nominally better than Tommy, but she’s shown me nothing. She should be screaming about threats to bomb Syria, but she’s silent.

        IMHO, the only real difference between Obama and Romney was voting rights. Voting rights are really important. But when Nate Silver was confident that Obama had Wisconsin, I held my breath and voted for the green candidate, Jill Stein. I’m glad Romney didn’t win, but all my worst fears about Obama have been realized.

      2. Funny that every county D party org that I am familiar with, gave over their entire volunteer staff, elected officers, monthly membership recruitment meeting time and physical office resources to OFA direction and coordinators in the last presidential.

        And I certainly don’t hear any WI party leadership, Dbot/obots criticizing anything their leader has been up to as POTUS (Secret TPP negotiations, continual war mongering, collusion on bank fraud, requesting pardons for Bush/Cheney, persecution of whistleblowers, NSA spying…), or even allowing membership discussion of these topics.

      3. I’d think Tate was named to the Executive Committee precisely because the national people don’t think he screwed up the recall. A bunch of public workers screaming not my pension, not my benefits, not my ability to get a raise was never a broad enough message to win votes. Very few on the left seem to possess the courage of introspection about the recall so it’s cast into legend as someone else’s fault – Barrett, Tate, Zielinski, Walker, etc.

        1. Emma,

          You’re absolutely right. If public workers/Dems had included messaging about cuts to programs low income people depend on, i.e Badgercare, Earned Income Tax credit, etc, we might have gotten the votes we needed to win the recall. Unless I’m mistaken there were at least a couple of hundred thousand people who signed the recall petitions that didn’t vote. My guess is that they were the low income crowd. We got their signature and then only sent them emails about voting after that. Or maybe a lit drop. Didn’t check to see how many weren’t registered and would have voted with a little more help and genuine concern for their plight.

  10. Regarding the recall, “Scott Walker Spent 88% of the Money to Get 53% of the Vote”

    “…Here’s another way of saying that: Walker spent $23 for each vote he received, while Barrett spent only $3.47 per vote…”

    I get several begging emails/week from OFA (Obama’s Organizing for INaction). They know the issues I care about and distort the President’s record to make it seem as though we agree. I see OFA as nothing but a way to bleed the local and state Democratic parties.

  11. Actually Ms. Burke should welcome a primary. It would give her some more time and free media coverage to become better established as a candidate. If there is a candidate that the people prefer and become more excited about–as many are for Kathleen Vinehout–she could throw her support to that candidate, giving the Democratic nominee a much better position upon which to defeat our fascist governor.

    1. I wonder if behind the scenes, her people have told Tate, she won’t run if she has to compete in a primary.

      1. Probably this is just Tate fearing that a primary will force her too far to the left and allow Walker to demonize her in the general election. We all saw what happened to Thompson in our state and a host of Republicans nationally. My guess is Harris and Vinehout are far too smart to paint themselves into a corner and there will be no Kathleen Falk repeat – as much as some people might yearn for a litmus test. In the end if there’s a contested primary, we’ll almost certainly be choosing between three centrist platforms.

  12. I think we should have a primary. Mary Burke doesn’t seem to have the kind of money its going to take to beat Walker anyways. Last time Barrett won the Democratic Primary even though he was heavily outspent by Falk. If Vinehout runs I will back her 100%. Knowing the issues is what is key and knowing how to explain it to the average voter after the primary is essential. We need a candidate who can turn out the Democratic Voters.

    1. I agree Burke only has the money to get the right people hired and get started. But look where she went to school. And then there’s her business contacts. She’ll be able to raise serious, real money for the campaign and the inevitable lawsuits if she’d win. I would think the national women’s groups will back her as well. It’s really a question of motivating center-right, center and independent voters and we’ll need every last vote we can muster from them. I would assume by then quite a few traditional, left- leaning Democrats will be unable to vote and Milwaukee will be neutralized. Vinehout is great though and in a less broken system…

      1. EmmaR I agree that Mary Bruke has the money to start out to start out with a hired staff. However I believe whoever the Democratic nominee for governor happens to be will be able to raise some serious money, and with the right candidate maybe even more. The big liberal donors always donate the max, its the smaller contribution donor that matters most because if they are enthusiastic they will donate again and again, plus the small dollar donor lives all across the state and will be involved in the campaign in other ways. What Republicans do to disenfranchise voters should help us more than it hurts.

    2. Well said, AJ. Emma is playing the wrong game with the wrong strategy. Dems win when they inspire casual voters to turn out, and you do that by demanding changes to the corrupt system that has caused big money to dominate the political scene, and screw the everyday person. Dems win when they have progressive messages that speak our against the creeping authoritarianism that is all around us, and fight back against it. And Dems win when they have strong candidates that the people want, not mealy-mouthed Republican lite attitudes designed to appeal to a very small slice of the electorate.

      Then again, I suspect Emma is part of this big- money game, and makes a pretty penny off of it, which is why she thinks money is the key to everything, and wants to engage Scott Walker is the same losing insider-driven strategy that’s failed the DPW in 2010 and 2012.

      What the Baldwin and Obama people recognized is that getting more people to want to vote for you (and/or not for the other guy) is a better strategy. I think a clean but contested primary does that, because it excites people about a candidate, and gives the candidates a chance to show a better way forward than the cronyists corruption and failed policies of Scott Walker

      1. I agree. Anyone at this point that is voting republican is too far gone to even consider flipping. A democrat running as a republican light is going to fail. Progressives will stay home, moderates will not be inspired and the wingnut true believers will never switch. And after at least 20 years of conservative dominant media in this state, I’d guess most republicans are of the wingnut variety. I don’t know any moderate republicans and I’m completely surrounded by them on the southside.

      2. I made some brief allusions to OFA as a front group for the “left,” 1% and that many elected D’s are too busy following the money to worry about actually doing anything but providing lip service (that would be sucking whatever they can get from you and me, suckers) to their traditional base, with no actual policy or law that makes any populist changes, and then gloss over with platitudes of past grandeur, the oppressive and regressive policy actually put in place to back the continued status quo for the uniparty elite. Throw in a few faux progressive front groups, and you have the left propaganda machine that covers lies and deceit actually happening with the unwilling to open their eyes, “d,” base.

        Even though I have been taken in myself, frequently, through hoping for something actually progressive or small “d,” democratic to originate and be backed by those who profess such politics, for the large part, we people with the idea that, ‘we the people,’ should actually have a say in our own government, must hold a healthy skepticism about anyone who might be in the race on either side this coming election cycle. You’ve got a long weekend ahead, here is some reading.

        Follow the links in the piece and in the comments, please.

      3. No, I’m not part of this particular big money game. But yeah, I know something about money and stats and Democrats don’t have either in in their favor in Wisconsin. But I realize this is difficult to see clearly if you’re in the Madison or Milwaukee area. Sounds like it wasn’t just Harris who dropped out this week, so this is all moot.

  13. Another critical part of this very complex process is the media. They go a long way towards determining what candidates from either party are able to say.

    After Baldwin and Obama won in ’12, I had some hope. Then Ed Fallone lost to Justice Roggensack. How the “unprintable” did that happen. On top of everything else, Justice Roggensack enabled workplace violence. Justice Prosser’s choking Justice Bradley and she helps him get away with it.

    In some ways that election was as important as the Governor’s race. Fallone could have tipped the balance of power on the Supreme Court. That could have blocked a lot of the worst from the wingnuts w/r/t unions and “choice.”

    If someone has any wisdom about how we lost that one, I’m all ears.

    1. All comes down to turnout. Democrats do well state wide for presidential elections in Wisconsin. In the non presidential years, Democrats just have not had good turnout. This does affect our state assembly, state senate, and congressional candidates Gerrymandering aside. The county parties and DPW need to work in partnership again to turn out the Democratic base voters as we did when Howard Dean was chair of the DNC.

  14. The parasitic rich need to be taxed and taxed hard. These democrats are nothing more than republicans that like gays and pay lip service to minorities.

  15. and by the way, moderates already vote Dem 70-30. So why follow Emma’s idea and waste time appealing to the 30 percent that’ might not vote Dem when we can drive a lot of the 70% that already support us out to the polls with a great, differentiated message? And also encourage the casual voter that votes Dem to want to care about midterm (which didnt happen in 2010). Again, a strong message and fear of a second Walker term will do the trick there.

    And don’t believe for a second that there won’t be national groups willing to pony up to end Scott Walker’s career. So stop thinking of money as a main motivation for picking a candidate

  16. Any Dem candidate, and that includes Mary Burke, would be wise to ask the DPW to deliver Walker’s John Doe emails into the public domain, before they made a decision about running. Per Steve’s excellent post

    the MJS is already working on it.

    It’s a lot easier and less expensive to beat Walker if those emails are published. That leaves more money to take back the Senate and make gains in the Assembly.

    1. Absolutely. Walker needs to be smeared with his own conduct and record viciously and relentlessly. Media needs to be monitored and the blatant lies and falsehoods called out and corrected in public. The DPW needs to get it’s shit together and stop playing around.

  17. If I may briefly summarize to date:

    Viable or willing candidates: Burke and Vinehout

    Needed to win besides money: DPW organizing, Turnout, John Doe documents

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