Kathleen Vinehout endorses Martha Laning for DPW Chair (VIDEO)

During an interview with WisconsinEye on March 19, Democratic State Senator Kathleen Vinehout shared her thoughts on the state of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. During that interview, Sen. Vinehout endorsed former Democratic State Senate candidate Martha Laning to replace Mike Tate as Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Here’s Sen. Vinehout’s interview. Her endorsement of Martha Laning starts around 5:00 into the interview.

EDIT: Credit for tipping me off to this goes to commenter Nonquixote.


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32 thoughts on “Kathleen Vinehout endorses Martha Laning for DPW Chair (VIDEO)

    1. Steve, good morning

      I don’t recall if you commented, but I was one voter who was absolutely not enamored with what appeared the be the political consultant class pick of candidate Burke at the time. I don’t care to go back and check, either. Water over the dam.

      1. (On Edit) I see some support (likes) from readers for McCabe’s DPW pick. McCabe endorsed Jeff Smith about 10 days before Laning announced. Might mean nothing but it is a fact.

        Also, you appear to be criticizing Vinehout for failing to endorse Burke, but ten days ago responding to Cat Kin, your appearance of NOT to be supporting Burke much in the first place, so your criticism of Vinehout failing to endorse Burke, if that was your intent, rings pretty hollow.


        “That candidate is not Martha Laning, any more than the gubernatorial candidate we needed was Mary Burke.”

      2. Endorsing Burke would have been tantamount to endorsing the flawed and unfair tactics of a prejudiced Chair. Either way, Burke was unelectable with a failed leadership.

    2. Any Democratic state senator or state representative endorsing Mary Burke wouldn’t have amounted to a hill of beans difference in the final result. I don’t get the fixation on this point.

      1. Maseman,

        My point is that a true leader, such as Vinehout apparently wants to portray herself, would have done the right thing last year and held a press conference calling on her supporters to rally around Burke. That would have been the mature, graceful, team-spirited, magnanimous and grownup thing to do, like Hillary Clinton did when Barack Obama eventually prevailed in the 2008 Dem presidential primaries.

        And Vinehout is more than just a state legislator, she was a gubernatorial candidate in the 2012 recall, and by her own words would have run in 2014 if not for the unfortunate car accident that sidelined her.

        So her silence last year calls into question her character, in my view, and I’m going to raise that question whether her ardent fans like it or not. I worked hard on Jeff Smith’s campaign for Assembly last year. So did a dozen or more other volunteers. I’m pretty comfortable speaking for all of them when I say that Vinehout’s assertion that we hurt her campaign is outrageous, absurd, nasty, vindictive, and, I’m guessing, totally unsupported by any evidence she can provide.

        I hope I’ve answered your question.

        1. To your 12:21 pm Steve, I definitely read that post at the time. That you were choosing to knock doors for someone (Burke) you were describing even then as a LOTE candidate, in your own words in that post, something like “we’ll figure out what to do with Burke and Tate after the election,” nobody is questioning your party loyalty or willingness to work.

          For instance I worked hardest for “D” senatorial candidates, being what I saw as the best chance of maybe taking a legislative chamber to break the state GOP power monopoly.

          To your comments here, whatever Vinehout’s reasons for not publicly endorsing Burke then, were her reasons and don’t translate in the least to disqualifying her current effort with Laning and her opposition to the Rae faction, now.

          All I’m sensing from you is some bruised ego at the moment. If I was thinking like you, I’d ask Jeff to speak to Vinehout and clarify the reasons behind the assertions she made about Jeff in the interview.

          Vinehout NOT acting as you require to fit within your description of “leadership,” (mature, graceful, team-player, yada, yada) to many people is a huge plus and a sure sign of an independence that in the current DPW situation, is all the more to be desired, to restrict Tate 2.0 (Rae) from holding that power beyond the convention.

          1. YES, nonquixote!

            Senator Vinehout does not deserve the destructive or hyper terms used by Steve. So what else is new?

            Senator Vinehout is one of the best if not our top legislator, in being informed and informing, in my opinion. Her ethics are a model we all would do well to imitate. Any criticisms she may have of the state political process or leadership are truly “dignum et justum est.”

  1. Thanks Zach,

    For those who may have missed it there has been some discussion of this interview on a different thread at BB. When I saw this video Friday, I thought it important enough to post immediately somewhere, simply for wider exposure. Any further conversation would probably be easiest to follow here.


    I noticed that Mr Camp on his blog labeled Laning a corporatist a few days ago. Perhaps the definition fits, but someone with such organizing and managements skills is also needed to push a more progressive agenda and at least get a wedge started to loosen the DNC grip on DPW politics this person will be invaluable.

    Sen Vinehout, may be seeing Laning as her proxy, as was suggested in the other conversation thread, but I think the good Senator (and I say that with all deserved respect due her) realizes the mountain of work she is up against in the Senate, I’ll again suggest she is looking for the coalition needed to stand up against the DNC political consultant class, faction, that rules the DPW today.

    I’m also seeing a few people who have picked their chair favorites already, not quite willing to see the larger picture I feel Kathleen is trying to get across in this interview.

  2. NQ,

    The ” good Senator ” would have done much better being out in the open about the Feb 28th Stevens Point event she discusses in detail in the interview. I’m not alone in feeling that way. Can you imagine the outrage if Mike Tate had pulled such a stunt? Invite people to an event, purportedly to determine the future of the DPW, only to find out two weeks later it was a dress rehearsal for his preferred Chair successor? But it’s okay because ” the good Senator ” was behind it?


    Transparency and fairness are progressive values. We need leaders who practice those values, and who have the maturity and grace to try to unite us even though their personal ambitions might not be fulfilled.

    A lot of Eau Claire County Dems, including some of her supporters, asked Vinehout to publicly endorse Burke last year. She never did. I’ll let the reader decide what that says about Senator Vinehout.

    1. I see we were typing at the same time again. I appreciate your take on what happened for sure. I refrained from commenting on that thread, because like Jim, I’m not an insider and will likely never know exactly who did what, except for what people choose to reveal, Vinehout for instance, in the interview here. I appreciate the dialogue.

      Choirs to attend to while the sun shines, BBl.

  3. Mary Burke ran a horrible campaign. Where was her voice during the RTW debate. Not a word. Where was Jim Doyle after Walker blamed him for denying the Kenosha casino. Not a word. Endorse Burke? Who did Burke endorse? Not me. Vinehout was running in a newly redistricted 31st and still suffering from her accident. Her endorsement would not have helped Burke and I have to believe it would have hurt her. She was smart not to endorse Burke. The last thing we needed was to loose another Senate District. I don’t have a problem with Kathleen’s endorsement of Laning.

    1. Joe, I’m wondering why you think Mary Burke should have voiced her opinion during the RTW debate, given that she’s no longer a candidate for governor and has made it clear she has no desire to run again. What would be gained from her voicing her opinion?

      1. Zach, Burke was the standard bearer of the Democratic Party. The news media would have been all over any remarks she would have made about RTW. Most people still don’t understand the bill and Mary could have shed a lot of light on the whole issue. It would still have passed but we have to educate the public and I see this as a missed opportunity.

        1. Disagree with you there Joe in a bit of an unorthodox way. Burke carried Tate’s vision, if any vision at all, and didn’t get beyond it. She always seemed to me to be the “reluctant,” politician, absolutely a wonderful person, intelligent, business savvy galore, but someone who can accomplish her personal goals (and undoubtedly has in many respects) without dealing with politics any further than she already has.

          The reason for the pathetic turnout from left leaning folks are the result exactly of the current “standards,” of the Democratic Party and the absurdity of what electoral politics has been for a couple of decades.


  4. What a bind. And after the pro-charter school background reveal. And even after the pro-Rae anonymous source. Since I’m an outsider, I can only wonder how far ahead he (Rae) must be. So for me, Senator Vinehout’s long-term vision seems worthy of objective and thoughtful consideration – not least because she tells us how she herself can win state-wide office. I never believed in Vinehout’s near-run but I can see most obstacles fading if she is supported by a well-organized and funded, positive pro-change, DNC-held-at-arms-length DPW.

      1. Just sitting back and watching events unfold. So your response is to question the Senator’s character and comparative ease of her district, really? At some point do all the wrongs you’re compiling make a right?

    1. Coffee break, choir was before noon, more chores still on the to-do list this afternoon.

      Hello EmmaR, my thoughts on Vinehout prior to her injury are different than after the fact. Had Kathleen been in for a primary, some very much and still needed, “defining,” of the issues would have happened, regardless of the outcome.

      She is consistently attempting to sound a populist message throughout her tenure, though. She would not be backing Laning without immediate good reason, I trust that. I see this interview as the latest wake-up call for cooperation, and as I said several times, to have any chance against the DNC wing of the party. Plain and simple call, not so plain and simple to accomplish. Not any time to waste to work it out.

      1. NQ,

        I can’t wait for Laning/Vinehout’s first press release as the new DPW co-Chairs denouncing Obombya’s drone war and the TPP. Should be a keeper. 🙂

        1. I would guess that they’d be attempting to get a state-wide game plan for winning state seats, built into a functioning reality, as a first priority.

          IMHO, what should be happening behind closed doors, immediately is a meeting of all the candidates opposing Rae, to first admit they aren’t going to do it, any of them, on their own and then figure out an alliance to work together for the common purpose.

  5. Anyone know how long Ms. Laning’s been registered Democrat and a member of the Democratic party? That’s a question all five-candidates should face.

    I assume Ms. Laning has voted regularly, but someone should probably confirm that, again for all five-candidates. Whether or not people vote is a matter of public record. How long have they been voting in primaries and off year elections?

  6. Let’s be clear about what Sen. Vinehout’s message is, giving more autonomy to local county chairs.

    Does she want to end the job-killing-government regulations against marijuana? She can start by polling her own 31st Senate District, which went for Walker.

    “Ted Cruz’s Cannabis Conversion Reflects The Political Prudence Of Marijuana Federalism”


    Cruz joins another GOP presidential contender, Rand Paul, in wanting to legalize marijuana. I bet legalization polls very well in Senate District 31. Does she think county chair in poor communities in Milwaukee are going to oppose legalization?

    Does she want Dems to run on a federal job guarantee?

    “….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…”


    I think that will poll very well in Senate District 31.

    What about a negative income tax for every American over 18? Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, every other adult gets a monthly check for $1,000 from the federal government. That would heal a lot of income inequality real fast and it’s not welfare, because everyone gets the same amount.

    Per, “Rethinking the Idea of a Basic Income for All,”
    and going back to Milton Friedman, there’s a lot of support for this kind of idea among libertarians and conservatives.

    Although it was understandably dwarfed by Emancipation, another great achievement of the Republican, Abraham Lincoln, was the Homestead Act (1862).


    It literally gave land away at almost no charge to Americans. As long as Dems want to avoid talking about policies about that will actually interest voters, make a difference in their day-to-day lives, I don’t expect our GOTV efforts to work.

    1. John C,

      Relevant issues certainly for a more populist party going forward, in your two Monday comments, but not, I’d argue, the main point of Kathleen’s interview here.

      Yes, giving county chairs more autonomy is a desired outcome and a goal to achieve in re-working the party structure. But this interview is PRIMARILY that NONE of that is going to happen without a coalition to stop the corporatist/consultant class in June, urgent, first and foremost.

      What I haven’t seen yet from people with more understanding than myself, is an assessment of the breakdown of current party control, as in the percentage of existing (entrenched “corporatist,” power, “consultants getting paid regardless of results,” as Vinehout describes it) the number of voting D’s in support of Rae or against him. Rae undoubtedly has the corporate power to run these numbers. The other candidates can collaborate to do the same, or do it themselves, but that assessment will determine how large of an association of the other candidates it will take to beat current consolidated consultant class power.

      John, extrapolating to issues beyond June 5-6, right now is entirely premature and missing the immediate point.

      1. nq,

        I certainly hope you’re right and I’m wrong.

        Also, I apologize if I in any way de-railed the critical discussion about DPW Chair that needs to happen right now. Not my intent, but I’ll try and be more careful until after the decision’s made.

        Per prior comments, imho, the real “corpororatization’ of the Democratic party goes way beyond “Nation,” but I was remiss in not mentioning my appreciation to Sen. Vinehout for mentioning it explicitly and linking Jason to it. IMHO, Nation’s the tippy-top of the iceberg. IMHO, the real decisions are getting made by big law firms, (Foley Lardner, Reinhart,….) and accounting firms, (Deloitte,…) and they work with folks at Hewlett Packard who run Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. IMHO, HP sends all that Medicaid IT work to India. Again, just the tip of the iceberg and all those trans national corporations only want to know how much more revenue they can squeeze out of Wisconsin state taxpayers.

        My $0.02 on Sen. Vinehout and Ms. Laning. IMHO, Sen Clinton’s campaign was unprepared for the backlash that hit Tate. Then, they thought they could get Jason Rae in. When that started to go south, my gut is that they tapped Sen. Vinehout (and probably promised support for her 2018 run for Governor). IMHO, if Ms. Laning’s elected, imho Sen. Vinehout will be the defacto DPW chair. More importantly, I doubt there will be any significant changes from what Jason Rae would have done, or what Mike Tate would have done. I certainly hope I’m wrong about that.

        I want to be clear, Sen. Vinehout is smart and she knows the real landscape much better than I. Asking who will fund the Democratic party is a really tough question. If you don’t get donations from multi-national corporations, where do they come from. Also, those folks, working with local law firms have lots of ways to hurt people who try to talk about this stuff. I don’t think there are any easy answers.

        Whoever gets the chair’s job will have to make a lot of tough choices. If someone put down an address in this thread, where I could send Jeff Smith $50, I’ll try to scrape it together. Not sure if that’s legal in this environment or even an issue. I appreciated Sen. Vinehout saying during her interview that she would work with whomever is elected. IMHO, Jeff would be more resistant to the corporatization of the Dems than any of the others. Steve Carlson’s support of Jeff carries a lot of weight with me. Sen. Vinehout repeatedly referred to Ms. Laning as a “fresh face.” She also talked about “leadership” and “management.”

      2. The current leadership of the Party is all about power and control. They call all the shots. If you challenge them, they change the rules. No one knows where the 40 million that Tate raised was spent. They chose Mary Burke for Governor. They work with the ADCC and SDCC and ignore most of the other Democrats in the state. The Party says it’s difficult to recruit candidates and then don’t support candidates when they do step up. In short, they only want to elect “their” people and would rather loose an election than help an “outsider” get elected. Vinehout, more than anyone else, understands this.

  7. Most people on this board know that I champion Kathleen Vinehout. But I must say that she appealed “to the people” in her recall Governor’s run and only got 3% of the vote. Republicans know how to appeal to the media controlled herd and Kathleen really doesn’t. She’s really a case of being a great incumbent performer who, when put up against another candidate, simply outshines in background and achievement every time.

    The glue of the Democratic party, labor unions, has faded and left a loser aura on Democratic events. I simply don’t think Kathleen’s appeal to the people mantra will work because, right now, there doesn’t seem to be an upside to alignment with any Democratic group. Tate hoped Mary Burke would help with a social appeal that is currently lacking in Democratic circles. But Burke was never well enough known in the media for a winning social appeal to take hold.

    I’m reminded of Groucho Marx’s comment, “If that club would include somebody like me, I wouldn’t want to be a part of it.” Developing a Democratic “Club” that people want to be part of will be the new Dem Chairman or Chairwoman’s major task. Maybe Lansing has that ability, I don’t know. But I agree with Kathleen, none of the other candidates seem to be capable of creating that desirable “club” with the positive feeling that commands attention, respect and commitment “from the people.”

    I admired Ron Kind’s campaign, Democratic values dignified and well defined, all the while under the typical vicious Republican attack linking him to President Obama’s “failed” policies. I don’t know if Kind would have won if he hadn’t been the incumbent, but being the incumbent didn’t help a lot of Democrats under that type of well funded attack.

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