What would YOU ask the DPW Chair candidates if you could?

As requested by commenter EmmaR, let’s have an open thread to collect questions you’d ask the candidates to replace Mike Tate as Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair.

Once we’ve gotten a list of questions, we’ll pare the questions down to the 10 “best” questions, and we’ll send those questions to each of the candidates in hopes that they’ll respond.

So here’s your chance – what would YOU ask the DPW chair candidates if you had the chance?


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26 thoughts on “What would YOU ask the DPW Chair candidates if you could?

  1. I live in a neighboring state, but I’ll go ahead and ask all of the candidates several questions:

    1) What is your plan for rebuilding the Democratic Party of Wisconsin?
    2) Do you intend to reduce or eliminate the salary of the state party chair?
    3) Do you intend to make details about all contracts with consulting firms and other entities that do business with the DPW publicly available?
    4) What would the DPW’s messaging look like if you are elected state party chair?
    5) Who is your ideal candidate for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin in 2016?
    6) Who is your ideal candidate for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018?

  2. What are your criteria for having a prominent member of the Party (Chris Abele) removed from the Party? At what point do policy decisions alone rise of the level of removal?

  3. 1. What would you do to ensure that a quality candidate run in every race regardless if the race is considered winnable or not?
    2. How would you keep fake Dems from running under the Democratic ticket? Is there a way to have them agree to run on the Democratic platform?
    3. What strategies would you propose to get the Dems message to the general public? Press releases on Facebook aren’t cutting it.

  4. 1. What is your plan to overcome the wall of right-wing propaganda that has poisoned debate in the eastern half of the state?
    2. Demographics alone won’t win elections, so which populations do you think the Dems can improve with for future years, and how can you win those voters over?
    3. What are the three issues that Dems should focus their message on?
    4. Why do you think Tammy Baldwin won in 2012 but Mary Burke didn’t win in 2014?
    5. Will you have a problem saying the words “that’s a lie” and “that’s bullcr*p” when someone actually says something untrue?
    6. How will you overcome the gerrymandering in the Legislature for elections?

  5. First, thanks. Second, here are my questions – and honestly, maybe these can’t be answered here on a public blog but the convention attendee’s should damn well demand answers before they vote rather than accept the preferred candidate(s) of party elites. I am also suggesting with these questions that we need more than a fundraiser/administrator but an expert who is deeply knowledgeable on our state and policy initiatives and skilled at working with state Democrats to develop a consistent platform:

    1) How would you sell a proposed increase in the minimum wage increase to each of these audiences: business groups, rural Wisconsin voters, suburban Wisconsin voters, urban Wisconsin voters. Include potential messages and tactics.

    2) Define the state of economic opportunity for Wisconsinites as well as the state of economic inequality for Wisconsinites. What policy initiatives do you recommend to address the two?

    3) Describe how you will fundraise in terms of target donors, your GOTV strategies, and your recruitment plans for new candidates.

    4) Manufacturing and agribusiness state taxation will be effectively zero but they account for a small percentage of Wisconsin jobs. How should Wisconsin create jobs? Which industries should be supported with government policy and how will you tactically sell and message these policies? How will you regain the trust and goodwill of Wisconsin’s business community?

    5) Primary and secondary education, Milwaukee, and consumer and environmental protection are under attack in Wisconsin. What’s your defense and more importantly, what is your offense?

    6) Describe your optimal relationship with national Democratic groups and the role they should play in Wisconsin, if any.

    7) Give us a breakdown of how you plan to spend your time and how much time in-state vs. out of state. Of the in- state time, further breakdown the proportion of time you will spend in each region of the state.

    8) Tell us what you hope to accomplish the first 90 days of your job, the first 6 months, the first year and finally by the 2016 November elections.

    9) Describe how you will work with the media to drive coverage of Democratic policies and candidates and increase attention of Republican failures. Is there a workaround to corporate media bias and what is it?

    10) Much is written about party elites versus the hidden majority (on both sides). What is your assessment of this issue for Wisconsin Democrats and how will you handle it?

    11) What is a Progressive? Are you one? Tell us exactly how you have walked the talk. Be honest, if you’re not, you’re not and spare us the you-support-Progressive-ideals crap.

    I disagree that the salary needs to be cut – I think we should just demand greater skill, accountability, and results. For many of us, this is it – the DPW’s last chance.

    1. Emma, thank you for the suggestion; it was a great idea.

      We’ve already got some great questions, and I look forward to sending them on to the candidates once we’ve got a good list.

      1. Credit to you for withholding immediate judgement on prospective candidates and insisting on a deeper conversation.

        I would suggest you include on your questionnaire a statement that the candidate signs off that they have personally written the responses, the responses accurately represent their views, and neither a consultant nor any third party wrote nor contributed to the writing of the responses.

        1. Sorry – one more question/idea. Does the Party hold a debate at the convention of the potential candidates moderated by say a John Nichols? If not, should they? Real debate – not a pitch one after another – is a direct action against Party elites and their mediocre enablers in the spirit of La Follette.

          1. I like and respect John Nichols but don’t lose sight of the fact that he is part of the media ruling class, coming out with crap like suggesting activists join national Democrats to insist on instituting a Robin Hood tax now that the big name Dems aren’t in a position to be effective in getting it passed. Saving face with us poors, pretending as they continue caring for nobody but the 1%. Break with the national party, now.


  6. These are my suggestions. They are not questions. They are what needs to be done to kneecap the GOP in this state.

    1. Drop the social issues.
    2. Drop any thing to do with the 2nd amendment.
    3. Concentrate on jobs and the economy stupid. James Carvell said this years ago and it still rings true.

    Doing both 1 and 2 cuts the legs out from under the GOP. Our side will still vote for Dems even though they don’t like it. The reasons are that they know that the GOP is the greater evil here and these issues will take care of them selves. i.e. Jobless rate goes down, pay goes up, and the crime rate goes down. Before everyone wants to beat me silly. I am a Master Electrician, IBEW 159, and a recovering republican. I used to vote for them until I figured out that being a single issue voter plays into their hands. I now vote my pay check.

    Now take the advice from someone who works for a living and sees things from that perspective. If you want more union help concentrate on the jobs and the economy stupid.

    1. Jobs and the economy ARE the big social issue. So, just a slight quibble with your terminology. I don’t think you were suggesting that other commentators here don’t work for a living. You are among friends as many of us who give advice here, DO work for a living also, although there may be a few retired people commenting.

      1. I was not saying that commentators here don’t work for a living. What I was inferring that the people in the DPW and elected office have forgotten that we work for a living. They seem to just ignore the hard working people that are the foot soldiers in this battle. For us it is about jobs and the economy. For them it seems to be how big they can inflate their ego and how hard they can make it for everyone else.

    2. HK, great comment. Here’s my question: How are you going to reach the husband and wife who like to drink beer, watch football and have barbecues with their working class friends? They aren’t college graduates, but that doesn’t mean you are smarter than they are. They are the target swing voter. And they don’t want to hear about guns, women’s health, unions, prayer in school, and inner city Milwaukee. Those things ARE important, but they are not of primary importance to the swing voters that decide elections. If that isn’t obvious by now…, well that’s one reason Mr. Tate had to go. A UW researcher went around the State interviewing people about politics and their view of Madison — it was very telling and not very encouraging. Find that research – read it. Try to come to terms with the fact that those perceptions ARE reality for voters.

      1. Off-target! Swing voters are a fictitious construct the DPW has mistakenly been targeting for years, putting their real base in a voting coma. If they don’t want to hear (care) about issues, as you point out here, why would you think they’d vote? Republicans win because they understand how counter-productive it is to “reach” or “target” non-voters.

  7. This is an excellent idea and opportunity. Thank you EmmaR and Zach.

    DPW Chair Questions

    1. How will you manage your role between the Assembly & Senate caucuses and the County Chairs Association.

    2. How will you assist in making the CCA a more viable political organization.

    3. The Democratic Party has had the same message for years. Each election year it just gets wrapped in new paper.

    a. What new ideas do you have.

    b. What is your plan for messaging.

    c. How are you going to coordinate your message plan with the caucuses and the county chairs.

    d. What is your quick response plan against Republican rhetoric.

    4. How do plan to bridge the gap between local candidate recruitment efforts and the legislative caucuses.

    5. What is your candidate support plan.

  8. What are your life experiences including formal education, past and current employment, service or religious affiliations, persons, and events which you believe have contributed to make you the person you are today and in what way?

  9. 1. From where you sit, does the state look flat and do you fear dropping off the edge at Hwy. 29?
    2. Can you travel all the way to Hwy. 8 and beyond without hyperventilating and buying bear repellant?
    3. Name three cities north of Hwy. 10 besides Wausau, Ashland, Eau Claire and Green Bay.
    4. Name three Democratic Party assembly candidates who ran in assembly district races north of Hwy. 29 in 2012.
    5. Why didn’t the DPW have an organized GOTV effort comparable to the GOP Leggiepalooza weekly lit drops tour for key Assembly district candidates in 2012?

  10. Another question – how do you plan to work with Wisconsin’s Democratic federal delegation to ensure they represent Wisconsin families and small businesses rather than just special interests and corporations?

    Tammy Baldwin voted for Cromnibus and Ron Kind is on record as anxious to approve any free trade agreement in front of him. TPP creates supranational agencies to override local, state federal rules and recognize the least restrictive rules of member countries. Just think on that a moment. Sound like Democracy to you or massive disenfranchisement? Kind needs the boot and a new DPW Chair could help that along by recruiting a candidate to run against him in a primary.

  11. Good luck, Zach, on reducing the fifty or so down to ten questions.

    I repeat that I would first like a bio on each of the candidates to get a better understanding of the person and his or her abilities elsewhere before I begin asking questions for consideration in a current position. Interviewing people for a position, I have found the applicant’s personal history very helpful in framing my questions for the interview as well as evaluating his or her character.

  12. What will you do to change/modernize our image to something appealing to people that are not active members?

    note to Zach’s readers: I find this very important because I attended a meeting at the state party HQ discussing imaging strategies for the party (well after Tate had taken over) and was stunned to hear from most of the -not even a dozen – people attending, which also greatly surprised me- that they wanted the image to appeal mostly to the EXISTING activists within the party who were – and I’m quite sure still are – over 60! I’m 60 and I don’t want to be around all old people either so I can’t blame younger people for wanting to avoid my age group and up!

    Having been not that long ago involved with a state caucus I would like to ask what will be done to ensure that all the caucuses get a vote and voice on the state admin committee? How will you work at getting the caucuses active and on track? Will you give them enough autonomy to decide their own issues, such as women’s issues being left for the women’s caucus to identify, LGBT, Black etc etc? I guess in general what is your idea for the direction of the caucuses and can we take that as a promise?

    Gender balance has outlived it’s intent in today’s world and has in fact kept women back in some cases within the party, so can we expect some serious changes in the party to make it more fair and available to women to succeed such as eliminating that rule and perhaps making childcare at events something to provide or at least seriously evaluate on an event to event basis?

    Many party representatives get drawn into debates about moral dilemmas related to abortion when the actual question and law are about medical rights and medical privacy. Do you have a strategy for handling this issue as well as other *moral* questions that are about personal issues – such as family members making medical decisions for patients that didn’t have living wills and are now in a vegetative state?

  13. The big question to ask to me is, what is your plan as chair for the party to turnout New Voters to win Elections?

    The campaign operatives in the past have thought it was a good plan not to target college campuses and low income housing because they have not voted from those addresses in the past, and the few housing units that did vote, they believe its the same person that voted 4 years ago on their lists even though conventional wisdom would state that person moved.

    I would ask the candidate “will you implement a caucus endorsement process similar to the DFL?”

  14. How will you assure the DPW recommits to public education? Stop vouchers and draw them back in Racine and Milwaukee. Stop CC mandates and high stakes testing. I think some (Duncan) saw testing as a way to highlight inequities but instead it is drawing already scarce dollars away from direct instruction to purchase computers for testing and wasting precious instruction time with test prep/testing. Corporate ed reform is also paving the way for privatization. No one from any party should be selling out our kids’ education to corporations. We should not be tolerating it from ourselves or anyone.

  15. All the correct answers to any questions we may have for DPW chair are already defined in the DPW platform, an awesome and thorough document defining progressivism in our time, compiled by the delegates representing Democratic Party membership. If you haven’t read the current DPW platform, for shame, you should do it now. That leads to the only question necessary of a candidate for DPW chair:

    Have you committed the DPW platform to memory and will you support it in its entirety in all of your actions as chair?

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