How To Get Even For What You’ve IMAGINED The DPW and Mike Tate Did

So you think that Mike Tate and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin are pulling a fast one on you with Mary Burke’s gubernatorial campaign? They aren’t coming up with enough support of your local races? Here’s how you fix it and let me warn you it won’t be easy:

Go to the party meetings.
Attend the local county and congressional district conventions.
Glad hand the current local party leaders…they’ll be happy to see you.
Get to know the party faithful…they are the real grass roots.
Attend the fundraisers, annual dinners, pot lucks, picnics, what have you.
Get elected to the chair of your county party or CD district..or the vice-chair, caucus chair, treasurer, issues committee, etc.
Work with your peers to field a candidate for the state chair next time it comes around…Mr. Tate pretty much had an unopposed election last time…and if you didn’t think that was fair and square…well you’ve got plenty of time to get your people into the party positions that control the convention, etc.

That should about do it…well except maybe for one thing: You might need to start here!


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25 thoughts on “How To Get Even For What You’ve IMAGINED The DPW and Mike Tate Did

  1. Ed, thanks for posting this; you’re exactly on point. If we want change within the DPW, we need to start that change from within.

  2. This is same exact strategy that the far-right used to take over the Republican Party, starting in the mid-20th Century. If they can take over the GOP, progressives can take over the Democratic Party, and Wisconsin is the first domino in a progressive takeover of the Democratic Party.

    Unlike here in Illinois, where it’s considerably harder for an “outside” faction to gain control of a major political party due to the fact that one would have to win a precinct committeeman election in order to become a member of the party, Wisconsin is one of the easier states for an outside faction to take over a major political party, although it’s still going to be a hard fight.

    If you all get 50,000 or more progressive-minded Wisconsinites from all 72 counties to register with the DPW and come up with a detailed, comprehensive plan to make the Democratic Party of Wisconsin more progressive, progressives can pull off a takeover of the DPW.

    1. Aaron, it will take far, far fewer than 50,000 to take over the DPW. If memory serves me, Mike Tate was elected to his current term as chair with less than 500 votes, so building a movement to oust him won’t be nearly as daunting as recruiting 50,000 progressives to register with the DPW.

  3. Ed, I don’t necessarily disagree with your assessment. However, I have to set the record straight. Tate held the convention in Oconomowoc because it was central to the majority of the delegates who come from Milwaukee and Madison and for the most part support him. He said he held it there because he was taking it to the Republicans. Many Northern delegates did not come because of the 5-6 hour drive along with the ensuing cost. Most Democratic delegates are not well to do and simply cannot afford to go to convention. Tate chairs the convention so he had the main stage all Friday night and Saturday morning. Most speakers like Senator Baldwin came on stage and told the delegates that Mike is doing a great job and they should keep him. I wasn’t just running against Tate but the whole Democratic establishment. Prior to the vote I was given 6 minutes, that’s right a whole six minutes to state my case. The six minutes included the time it took for my nomination and second. When I took the podium and looked at the time keeper, she was already holding up a 3 minute wand. I was told that I could have supporters observe the counting of the votes. Delegates voted in any one of the 8 congressional districts and those ballots were counted in 8 separate places. I was allowed to observe 2 of the 8. Tate was elected by less than 500 delegates out of a membership of 15,000. To the best of my knowledge I am the only person to ever challenge a sitting Chairman. The press never interviewed me nor covered my speech at the convention. A friend summed it up like this, “Tate runs the Democratic Party like a mob boss”. The more I thought about it, the more I realized he is right. Tate runs the Party in complete secrecy. His salary is not listed anywhere and the financial report he gave to the delegates is severely lacking. Since he was elected(uncontested)chairman in 2009, the Democrats have lost both houses of the legislature, the governorship(and recall), 2 supreme court races(they are no longer non partisan), 2 congressional seats and one senate seat. Somehow he convinced enough people that none of that was his ‘fault’. Any head football coach with that record would be long gone.

  4. Ed, I don’t get your comment. I pretty much figured you belong to the party. I don’t know what I wrote that makes you think that I don’t think you belong to the party or attend conventions. It’s sounds like a reasonable thing to do: get together with your friends and take over the Party.
    My whole point is that the way Tate runs the Party that may not be possible. Many people would have to risk too much to get it done. He is playing with a stacked deck that is hard to beat.

      1. Ed, please take the time and go back and read my statement. Under Tate the DPW has created a “kingdom” that the average person cannot penetrate. This “inner” circle is in control and has set up everything to keep it that way. I didn’t want to get into the process a person has to go through to challenge the Chairman at this point. However, He doesn’t follow his own rules and then gets the ‘committee’ to rule that he didn’t break any rules. You don’t follow the rules and they hang you out to dry. Think about it. Tate makes $122,000 in salary alone. He will do WHATEVER it takes to keep this job. Ed Garvey has taken him on to no avail. If Kathleen Vinehout challenges Burke(and by extension, Tate), they will do anything to stop her. Tate has taken great pains to instill in everyone’s mind that a “serious” candidate must raise millions. He only backs “serious” candidates and has convinced a lot of Democrats to follow suit. He also scoffs at the idea that he has anything to do with ‘picking’ candidates when in fact he and his inner circle do. I was told by a legislator that most Democrats could care less who the chairman is. I fear he is right.

  5. Go to the party meetings…And be presented with party over policy propaganda and orders for you to work hard for that goal.

    Attend the local county and congressional district conventions…And be presented with party over policy propaganda, be refused agenda space for policy discussion.

    Glad hand the current local party leaders…they’ll be happy to see you…so they can dismiss you and exclude you should you question policy or party loyalty and so that they can keep you on their radar as the biggest threat to their authority and control.

    Get to know the party faithful…they are the real grass roots… and the real behind the scenes gatekeepers of the party over policy, usually unelected to county leadership but never-the-less continually censoring criticism of party policy in newsletters and press releases propagandizing the good of the party.

    Attend the fundraisers, annual dinners, pot lucks, picnics, what have you…and spend your money in the wrong place if you desire making a change within your party.

    Get elected to the chair of your county party or CD district..or the vice-chair, caucus chair, treasurer, issues committee, etc…but attempt do so subversively or you will not get past the gate-keepers of party over policy, ever.

    Work with your peers to field a candidate for the state chair next time it comes around…if you have the personal resources to match the party platform and finances that are manipulated to keep you in line with party over policy from the beginning.

    Mr. Tate pretty much had an unopposed election last time…and if you didn’t think that was fair and square…ask him to use party resources to fund any and all party candidates who might wish to run for the seat he holds.

    Thanks Ed, but the point I am making is if we are going to get small, d, democracy back, it is NOT going to come from the party, either party, either wing of the 1% party and their eager subordinates with rank, title and just enough cash to keep control over the willing flock.

    1. Well then, either do your thing with that small ‘d’ democracy and stop worrying about what the party is doing…or get involved in the party and fix its perceived sins…it is really that simple.

      1. The party affects my life to too great of an extent to simply ignore it and the deleterious effects it has on me and my community. There is no valid reason for me to have to get involved in the party or to be worrying about fixing it from within to ultimately try to effect the political change I might prefer. I am not the only person disaffected with the party. Witness the median age of paid county membership in my purple county, upward of 60 years old. Frequent topic of discussion was how to attract youth to the party. Make yourselves relevant to them was just one suggestion from me that was not explored any further.

        Your suggestion is typical to responses I’ve had from the, “my way or the highway,” county and regional level party leadership and is exactly the tunnel vision, the so-called big tent, with which I’ve already experienced my fill. Thanks however, for your encouragement and support to go and do my thing.

        1. Actually NQ, your previous comment was essentially a ‘my way of the highway ultimatum’ to the party…when what I was suggesting was getting inside the party and changing it…instead you are telling me that the party has to change first…make up your mind.

          1. Sorry, if I was not clear that I already went that, “inside,” route. Membership had no privileges, 3 people in charge (only one an elected officer) of everything, no ifs, ands, or buts allowed. I’m not in a position to move to a different locale, so there is the long and short of it in this neck of the woods. So actually your assessment is incorrect. No questions to make up my mind about, at all.

            However, reader interpretation of my comment will obviously vary.

            Thanks for the post to have the opportunity to discuss my experience.

            1. NQ, I get your explanation. In party politics, just as in all of life, there are some things one cannot change despite their obvious shortcomings.

              1. I got an extremely clear look at the most inside workings here, by profusely volunteering my time for everything that came along for a healthy period of time. The party is creating its own irrelevancy in many ways.

  6. Ed is mostly right. I would say it is very easy to get involved and engaged in the party. I encourage anyone who wants to influence our direction to join the party and attend your county party meeting. There are numerous opportunities for leadership; you can be a county officer, CD officer, serve on numerous committees, run for state officer and yes any member can run for state chair.

    I’ve run 3 times, twice unopposed and once with only token opposition. I’d be very involved with the party for over 10 years when I ran and had a lot of connections with grassroots activists from running the Dean Campaign and the Fair Wisconsin campaign. So it helps to be a little known and have a good working knowledge of what the job entails. What you need to do to win a party chairs race is not really hard, it may be a lot of hard work but its not hard. I campaigned just as hard when I ran unopposed than opposed. Its about putting thousands of miles on your car, attending as many county meetings as you can and attending as many if not all of the CD conventions as you can. My campaign called through the list of delegates about 8 times and I tried to personally call or email many delegates to ask for their support. Each time I did it because to win the election you need to get the vote of the convention delegates, you can never forget that. Its nice if you garner support from elected officials but few of them stay around to vote. Incumbent party chairs have been toppled a number of times in our history, generally by forgetting who elects them. The delegates who attend convention. If you keep a laser like focus on that and are willing to work hard you can win. Obviously being a good organizer helps, serious candidates generally raise a little bit of money for a mailing, flyers, fees for the delegate list, etc But if you cant raise the miniscule amount of money for a chairs race, trust me your looking for the wrong job :)Last time my opponent didn’t even get into the race until almost all the CD conventions were over, he skipped his own CD convention! If you run a serious campaign you can win and you can beat anybody.

    Of course it helps to have political experience, strong relationships with organized labor and other allied groups. A background in fundraising is pretty important, as is having strong management skills, both of staff and money.

    The election is held every other year in the odd numbered years, the location is voted on by the Admin committee and rotates around the state.

    This year we had about 1000 delegates attend convention, I think 5-600 stayed to vote, not uncommon as voting is the last item of business and if the result isn’t really in doubt many leave. That also presents an opportunity though, if you can organize your delegates to stay. I’d be willing to bet the 85% of the delegates who voted for me I either spoke to in person, on the phone or via regular or email.

    There is sometimes this myth that being party chair is bestowed upon you from some on high power. Nope, its earned driving all those miles every weekend for months (and if you get elected you get to do it even more).

    Its a tough job, you have to have pretty thick skin. Every day people will attack your motives, character, say just some amazingly awful things to your face (and that’s just the Democrats). So you have to be able to take it all in stride and realize that those attacking you are incredibly passionate about moving a progressive agenda forward. Whether their criticism is fair or unfair, you have to remember that. I have a lot of respect for many of the loudest voices that criticize me and the party. Whether I agree or not I feel like 99% of the dialogue makes me and the party better (note this is not an invitation for more criticism :))

    Anyway, I rarely comment on these but thought Ed’s post important. Because he’s right. The members have the ultimate say every two years at the convention.

    1. Mr. Tate, as one of your critics and as a member of Jackson County Democrats, I have several questions:

      1. What was your knowledge of and involvement with an individual conducting a statewide “poll” earlier this year of various groups including JCD of possible gubernatorial candidates?

      2. Were you aware that this “poll” suggested or touted IMO Ms.Burke as a worthy candidate?

      3. What resources, encouragement, or advice have you and/or party leadership provided Senator Vinehout in her recent efforts statewide to introduce herself and to obtain a sense of what the electorate wants?

      4. If so, what amount, expressed as a percent, was it of that provided Mr. Burke by DPW?

      5. Have you or a member of your staff had an in depth, one on one discussion this year with Senator Vinehout on her possible candidacy?

      6. Do you believe it is desirable for Ms. Burke to be engaged in a primary?

    2. Mr. Tate,

      Appreciate you stopping by and commenting under your own name.

      IMHO every time Scott Walker’s photo appears on the front-page of a major media outlet, it’s a win for the GOP. Every time he’s quoted in a story without a strong comeback from a Democrat, it’s another win for the GOP. Walker and his folks get that what the media wants is a steady drip, drip, drip of events, talking points so they can fill their column inches, … air time. Like him or hate him, Walker helps them draw eyeballs.

      1. The low-hanging fruit I see for DPW is marijuana legalization. Grover Norquist just gave his blessing to taxing it.

      As you know, you have to use a portion of the tax revenue to protect the jobs, wages, benefits, and pensions of the law enforcement unions.

      The prohibition’s a textbook example of a job-killing-government-regulation. I suspect most of the GOP will support you proposing it. Any complaints, however, about how difficult fund raising is, ring hollow, if DPW isn’t supporting legalization.

      Failure to move quickly will only lose more tourism dollars to Colorado and Washington.

      Defunding the private corrections industry will hurt the GOP a lot more than DPW.

      It will save a lot on law enforcement costs.

      My guess is you’re getting heavy pushback from the HRC campaign because they take a lot of money from Big Pharma. Reasonable people will question the independence of DPW, if progress isn’t made on this issue.

      I would never encourage anyone, who did not already have a serious illness, to use marijuana, but the prohibition on alcohol did not work either.

      2. As you know, the success the GOP has had in branding Dems as the party of “pity-liberalism,” is a very serious problem. I would strongly invite you to consider a federal job guarantee which would phase out welfare and unemployment insurance.

      “…The government could serve as the “employer of last resort” under a job guarantee program modeled on the WPA (the Works Progress Administration, in existence from 1935 to 1943 after being renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942). The program would offer a job to any American who was ready and willing to work at the federal minimum wage, plus legislated benefits. No time limits. No means testing. No minimum education or skill requirements. …”

      3. Capitalists understand that the real job creators are consumers with money to spend.

      Billionaire Nick Hanauer: “Raise Taxes on Rich to Reward True Job Creators”

      “……When businesspeople take credit for creating jobs, it is like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution. In fact, it’s the other way around.
      It is unquestionably true that without entrepreneurs and investors, you can’t have a dynamic and growing capitalist economy. But it’s equally true that without consumers, you can’t have entrepreneurs and investors. And the more we have happy customers with lots of disposable income, the better our businesses will do.
      That’s why our current policies are so upside down. When the American middle class defends a tax system in which the lion’s share of benefits accrues to the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer.
      And that’s what has been happening in the U.S. for the last 30 years. ….”

      A few of the other oligarchs recognize this: Warren BUFFETT: Actually, there’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won. We’re the ones that have gotten our tax rates reduced dramatically.

      Pimco’s Bill Gross:

      “Gross, whose $250 billion Pimco Total Return Fund is the world’s largest mutual fund, said that developed economies function best when income inequality is minimal.”

      My guess is that Hanauer, Buffett, Gross and other oligarchs are looking for ways to distance themselves from the Koch’s and the rest of the robber barons. If you want to generate excitement for Ms. Burke’s campaign, have a “meet and greet” with a billionaire who will talk about the dangers of income inequality.

      Ask them to cut and fund spots of them talking about income inequality for DPW.

      See: “Top Marginal Tax rates 1916 – 2011”

      NOTHING ever “trickled down.” The 1% just used those tax breaks to buy both parties and the media.

      Wade Michael Page is lethal sign of the social destruction that’s threatening to destroy this great nation.

      I think the piece below is excellent. It’s not talking about taxing the rich, or the 1%, just the top 416. That’s a kind of rifled approach that physicians, attorneys, and others can embrace.

      5. W/R/T choice, I think the talking point that, “if Gov. Walker thinks life begins at conception, why hasn’t he drafted legislation that every miscarriage be investigated as a possible homicide,” is worth running through a focus group.

      My guess is that Walker and the rest of the GOP would have a difficult time explaining that to their base. If you want the government forcing birth, you’re no friend of the Second Amendment.

      6. The loss of thousands of commercial fishing jobs in Lake Michigan is a reminder that sustainability is the foundation of good-paying jobs, “The Decline of a Once-Great Fishery.” It undercuts any trust anyone should have in the GOP to protect the environment. Former GOP Governor Warren Knowles is remembered as a champion of the environment, but in 2013, WIGOP would kick him out of the party. Again, the ballast issues (one of several causes) may be a source of friction with the HRC campaign and national Dems, but if DPW is truly independent, I think your own polling will confirm its value.

      7. As you know, physicians, lawyers, tenured faculty, and anyone who uses “credentialing” to restrict the supply of labor is bargaining collectively. A lot of folks don’t get that. They only think of of the building trades, SEIC,…. as “unions.” IMHO, education on that might help with organized labor.

      Apologies if this isn’t helpful.

  7. Ed, anyone, I pay my Dem membership dues. Is it expecting too much from leadership to receive answers to legitimate questions regarding their fairness for all candidates?

    I’m trying to become involved in the process.

  8. “I have a lot of respect for many of the loudest voices that criticize me and the party. Whether I agree or not I feel like 99% of the dialogue makes me and the party better.”

    Then you agree that a contested primary campaign discussing what Dems should stand for and do stand for (and the media attention associated with it) are good things for the party in 2014, right?

    1. Sorry, Jake, you will have to take a number. Steve has #1 and I have #2 for a reply from Mr. Tate.

      I am reminded of the old line, “Our Boss treats all employees equally; that is, badly.”

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