Why the DPW is Dead Wrong for Their “Endorsement” of Mary Burke

I have never met Mary Burke.  I don’t know too much about her positions on important issues regarding the state of Wisconsin.  Other than her involvement with Trek Bicycles and as Commerce Secretary, I don’t know much about Ms. Burke’s background.  Unlike some progressives, I’m not fanatically opposed to Mary on policy grounds.  The fact of the matter is, I don’t know too much about her.  Period.

I’m not an average voter, either.  I have a B.A. in Political Science, and I am host of the Milwaukee Chapter of Drinking Liberally—a social group that gathers every month to kick back with a pint and talk politics.  I vote in primary elections in off years—even if there’s terrible weather.

My argument with the DPW is that if someone like me hasn’t had the time to form a researched opinion about Mary Burke, then how can we possibly expect the average, much less engaged voter to form an opinion.  Mike Tate, the Democratic Party Chair in Wisconsin, would likely counter that this coming election is important, talk about the need for money, and the need to mobilize immediately.

I disagree.  We needed to mobilize quite a bit before today.  The Democratic Party should be mobilizing to engage voters, to educate them on important issues facing Wisconsin, and relating these issues to individuals.  Also, this education should not be propaganda, but should provide real facts, an objective overlook, and how a pragmatic progressive could address the issue.  They don’t need to start mobilizing for a candidate for office until after there is only one candidate for office—either after a primary, or if there’s only one candidate running, after the filing deadline.

If the DPW did its job educating the Democratic electorate, it would produce higher quality candidates and healthy debate.  It would produce candidates that we could get behind because we would be educated on the issues AND would have time to get to know how candidates relate to the issues.

Instead, the DPW has it backwards.  They’ve chosen to educate us on a candidate—effectively doing their best to nudge out anyone else thinking about running.  Instead of educating us about issues, we’re being educated on why we should support the positions of Mary Burke on the issues.  We’re being asked to adopt her ideology, instead of demanding a candidate for office be in line with our ideology and values.

The value of a primary is it gives us an opportunity to learn about our choices of who should represent us in a general election.  Let’s face it—most people who identify as Democrat, Liberal, Progressive, Socialist, etc are going to vote for the Democrat as opposed to Scott Walker…but those votes don’t translate to the type of “boots on the ground” campaigning that will help promote a candidate to the independents and undecided voters that will nudge a candidate to governor.

I’d like to learn more about Mary Burke—but not from newspapers, from propaganda, and facebook—but by listening to her debate in a primary.  I want to see how she does in the “soft campaign” of a primary, before a general election.  Let the people choose their standard bearer—not some party insider with their own agendas.


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7 thoughts on “Why the DPW is Dead Wrong for Their “Endorsement” of Mary Burke

  1. It’s all about the money. The person with the most money wins. All the pundits agree on that. So if you want to win, you would be smart to back the millionaire in the race. That works in the primary, but not in the general. Will Burke mortgage her future just for a chance to defeat Walker. Time will tell. It’s numbers, not money that will ultimately defeat Walker. The Democrats are divided. Those who like Tate also support Burke and Tate has made it clear that he does not want to see a primary. To those who say Tate’s only function is to raise money better step back and look at how he has fractured the Democratic Party. His actions have almost guaranteed Walker’s reelection.

  2. Thanks for posting, Brian

    I’ve made the point here previously that winning only the governor’s mansion will not dissuade the crap right-wing legislation when vetoes might be overridden in the Senate and Assembly. Senate majority is as key as the governor’s race.

    @ Joe K at 10:11 am

    The party as AJ suggested over the weekend is diverse, I would argue it was that way prior to Tate, but that Tate’s failure, as reflected at the county level, has been to actually attempt to be the big tent it purports to be. Knuckles for knocking, shoe leather for walking and then screw you if you aren’t toward the corporate beneficiary wing of the party is the part, the failure to have done a single thing about. Regional reps for the 72 county, “strategy,” of essentially steering county leadership (and county leadership playing obedient lapdogs here, anyway) “doing nothing so there are no “targets,” for the opposition to criticise D’s about,” is the exact language coming from my US Assembly top campaign manager’s mouth in 2012. Didn’t work then, won’t work this time.

    As I don’t get down your way much, thanks for explaining who you are and your views.

  3. I agree with Zach in that, while Tate’s merely supporting the only avowed candidate for Governor on the Democratic ticket, and would also support any other candidate who might enter the race on the Democratic ticket, it certainly seems like he is supporting Burke exclusively.

    We do have another “would be” candidate who is trying to answer a public mandate to run. Problem is, her public is most of the Democrats in Western Wisconsin who know her record and her capabilities but don’t have big corporate or union finances.

    If you want a primary log on to http://www.KathleenVinehout.org, read her reports on political activity in Wisconsin so that you understand the unprecedented expertise and commitment she brings to the critical issues of this state, and send her an email and a donation. Let her know what you can do to help in your area and help her decide to run next January. If she gets your support she will give up her valuable Senate seat to enter the primary.

  4. The LaCrosse Tribune (Jack Craver) article quotes Mike Tate on money and Kathleen Vinehout’s chances:


    Tate may not be directly promoting Burke as he had previously claimed but this is definitely an attempt to discredit Vinehout’s chances. Sadly, I guess that is allowable.

    Would she not get the DPW support if she entered and won the primary?

    On second thought, maybe the Franklin Center’s Marquette Poll showing either Vinehout or Burke stacking up equally well against Walker was a right-wing dirty trick considering the poll’s sponsors. /s

    I’d urge going about 10X the $25. some have suggested to encourage Vinehout. Better sent directly to her than some of the “Progressive,” front groups around the state like the DPW for the moment.

  5. It’s the process, not the people. How can we energize the activists in the edges of the districts if the choice has been made behind the scenes? How can we motivate the disenfranchised who are sick of the similarity of the parties, when we act like the folks we are trying to beat? How can we mobilize the folks in the little towns and on country roads, who were involved in the recall, but saw choices made for them in urban areas so different in lifestyle and income level, so uncaring for what it’s like to struggle by at a poverty level in this “land of plenty”?
    The decision to back someone and act like it’s a done-deal is outside the job description of the head of the party. If this never happened before, we could say it’s worth a try, but this is the same failed rope-a-dope strategy that lost us with Mr. Barrett, twice.
    This election will be won or lost in the seams between the county party headquarters, along the ridge tops and through the valleys where urban organizers and well meaning party officials never go. As an organizer of some of those places, I need a reason to ask my neighbors to consider a candidate. So far I don’t have a single one that will play.

  6. Tom,

    Appreciate your comments here and in a prior post and I agree. I’d opine that the party should be saying that they are happy to have a candidate who has announced and eagerly awaiting the decision of another potential candidate, currently weighing her options and that they are extremely proud of a strong bench. Any talk by DPW should be positive and the quotes by Tate in the linked article above are petty, disgusting and deplorable. There is no way to put a positive spin on those L-Trib comments and his obvious tactics. None.

  7. Brian: “I’d like to learn more about Mary Burke…by listening to her debate in a primary.”

    ME TOO !!!

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