Why I’m backing Jeff Smith for DPW Chair

First off, Jeff is the only candidate who has won a state level election against a multi-term incumbent Republican in rural Wisconsin. Jeff’s first race was in 2004 when he defeated a handpicked DPW candidate in the 93rd Assembly district primary and went on to lose in the general election. He came back in 2006 and, with no help from the ADCC, went on to defeat 14 year GOP incumbent Robin Kreibich. The significance of this cannot be overstated. Jeff is the only DPW Chair candidate who’s been successful turning rural Wisconsin from red to blue.

Secondly, numbers don’t lie. In the 2014 election cycle Jeff did better than our candidates in 10 other ADCC targeted races based on his performance matched against the expected Democratic performance. And he did this, again, with no help from the ADCC. I worked on Jeff’s campaign and we developed his message and campaign lit/TV ads using local talent and by raising his own money, over $60,000.00. If other Dem Party challengers, and even a pair of incumbents, had matched Jeff’s performance we would have kept two Assembly seats that were lost, won four more, and won back a Senate seat. Think about that for a minute. Go ahead, think about that for another minute or two.

Next up, everybody says they stand with Labor. It’s easy. All one has to do is say it out loud and write it up for one’s campaign website. Jeff has literally and repeatedly stood with Labor. Actions really do speak louder than words.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Jeff is willing to admit to, and learn from, his mistakes. He’ll be the first to tell you that the biggest mistake of his political career was buying into the ADCC program in 2010. He lost a heartbreaking election that year by only 74 votes, after which the 93rd Assembly district was redrawn to favor the GOP. Some of the candidates and their supporters talk like they have all the answers. Sure they do. Right.

During the two plus years I’ve known Jeff I’ve found him to be an open, honest and accessible guy who genuinely wants to hear what others think, who’s willing to incorporate other people’s ideas into his thinking and strategy, and who will give credit where credit is due. He’s very popular in the Eau Claire area with a wide range of Democrats and progressives, and people on his own home turf are mobilizing to elect him as the next DPW Chair.

I’ll be going to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention in June, my first ever as a delegate, and I’ll be voting for Jeff Smith. I highly recommend that you contact your county party chair and find out how you can become a delegate too. You have until May 15th to do so. Get at it. Times a wastin’.


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8 thoughts on “Why I’m backing Jeff Smith for DPW Chair

    1. Here’s an idea we should all consider. Bring fairness and access for all eligible delegates to DPW Convention elections.

  1. Jeffs record isn’t all that great. A few examples.

    1. He’s running for Assembly at least six times that I know of. Of these he’s only won twice. Sure you can say he got close, or there was redistricting, but the fact is he hasn’t consistently won or shown he knows how to win. He’s run a LOT and mostly lost.

    2. Can he work with others? It’s one thing to be a maverick or want to bring new ideas, etc., but you have to still be abel to lead and get people to work together. There’s a lot of evidence that Jeff can’t do this. Why didn’t he get that ADCC support even when he’d been a former colleague running in 2012 and 2014? Maybe because he thumbs his nose at everyone else and doesn’t want to work together. The result: he lost!

    3. The party chair must help recruit viable candidates to win races. Jeff was the the regional political director and involved in recruiting the area near his assembly district. How did he do recruiting wise? Well first, after 10 years + of running and/or representing the area, he couldn’t come up with a candidate in his old district and had to ultimately run himself. Great recruiting job there Dick Cheny. In the Senate district a very nice man, Phil Swanhorst, ran, but never really had a chance to be viable and got less than 40% of the vote in a 50/50 district. Gary Stene ran against an ailing GOP rep in another 50/50 district and barely showed up and also got just 40% of the vote. AD 29, the Dem candidate couldn’t even make it on the ballot. AD 28, didn’t even come close to being competitive. The lone hope in the area, farmer Jeff Peck might have stood a chance if Jeff had done a better job recruiting and not left the GOP to train all their resources on Jeff Peck.

    Jeff Smith can’t even be successful in a small region of the state, how can he lead the whole state party?

  2. Operative Leo Burt (still can’t get over that moniker)

    Who’s calling Jeff Smith a maverick? When I look over the list of candidates and who is getting people to work together, Jeff Smith is exactly that person.

    Peter Barca why he doesn’t get behind any number of candidates. Barca’s got his own game going on. Everybody knows it. Actually, I would love to know how Barca deems candidates worthy of funding. THAT could be a excellent subject for another thread. Thanks for mentioning it.

    Again, when I look over the slate of candidates, most of what you’ve said falls to the wayside.
    Question for you.–

    Who’s your sterling candidate for chair?

  3. And Leo-

    Just in case you’re wondering about Jeff Smith’s ability to lead and get people to work together, people are joining and/or rejoining the party because Jeff Smith is running. They want their voices heard. They want real change. The corporate slate aren’t going to do it.

    I’m not going to say they’ve been plagiarizing his ideas, but their own have certainly morphed and have moved in alignment with Jeff’s vision. Why is that? Because his vision resonates with members.

    Jeff Smith is going to bring the party back to the people.

  4. Sterling candidate? I don’t know that there is one. This is a job that entails I think much more than most people want to acknowledge and that few of them are actually up to. If I choose to go to the convention I have no idea who I’ll vote for. Each has their strengths along with some great weaknesses. My assessment of each:

    1. Joe Wineke. I don’t like Joe at all. His often been aligned with the wrong people like the Operating Engineers who are not true friends always. He also can be very divisive such as when he chose to take on an incumbent Assembly member who also had been a strong fighter for progressive ideals. That was not a party unifying action at all. On the other hand, Joe has done the job before with some success (I won’t attribute all the wins that happened when he was chair to his leadership, but he has been there during successful times). He will be a good on message spokesman for the party and knows the pivotal fundraising aspects of the job. I’d never vote for him unless I felt like someone really bad would win and there was no other choice.

    2. Jason Rae. I think Jason’s great weakness is needing more experience on many fronts. He won’t be the strongest speaker for the party, not because of lack of conviction but just lack of gravitas given his age. I think Jason knows the job probably as well as anyone who hasn’t done it yet can. He’ll be an ok fundraiser and while people don’t like who he knows, it will mean he will be a somewhat successful fundraiser. Jason brings some diversity that the others don’t. He did grow up in a rural area even though he lives in Milwaukee now and I believe he’s a tried and true progressive that few give him credit for. Unlikely I’d vote for him though.

    3. Jeff Smith. I’ve already written about him so not a lot to add. I’ll say that being chair requires a big fundraising lift, whether people want to admit it or not. Jeff has raised money for his local races, but I have grave doubts that he’d have a clue or be able to raise the money to keep the party functioning well. I won’t vote for Jeff as I believe the party would be broke before we got to 2016 (or the DNC would have to come really bail us out).

    4. Stephen Smith. Seems like Stephen is the forgotten candidate, so rarely mentioned.A great guy and as progressive or more than all the others. I just don’t think he either would be able to raise the money, but he’s run businesses to he’d probably be smart enough to delegate some things to others. Stephen’s big weakness is being able to be a great succinct spokesman. He’ll be rambling at best and damaging at worst on this front. Probably the greatest long shot. Can’t see voting for him.

    5. Martha Laning. An interesting new comer that I am surprised so many have turned on so quickly. When she got into the Senate race she was lauded and seen as a savior. A great find as a candidate. Didn’t do real great in a district that should be competitive but may in fact just be trending away from us right now very quickly. I think everyone who’s actually met Martha (I haven’t really myself) has spoken very highly of her and never doubted she was a democrat. Also interesting how Vinehout who’s normally held up as a savior in her own right, is vilified for supporting Martha. I could see voting for her but I’d want to learn more too. The tide may have turned on her too quickly to have a shot though either.

    Maybe Sara Johann will run to add even more mediocrity to the field!

    1. Thank you, Leo, for your opinion.

      I would dispute your “mediocrity to the field” as being helpful in making a selection although I have no vote. Perhaps saying, “less experienced” or some other phrase would be more charitable and specific in evaluating our political brothers and sisters bid for the Chair.

      We need a plan, short and long term, to restore honesty and equality in the Wisconsin voting process.

  5. Vinehout is not being vilified for supporting Martha Laning. Vinehout’s actions pre- and and immediately post Martha Lanings entry into the race and how the the campaign roll out was orchestrated including her Wis Eye video give one the impression of that all was highly coordinated and not all quite above board. The whole Solinger-Vienhout-Laning thing, it’s weird. THAT is what Vinehout is being questioned on. Not vilified. But it does make one wonder.

    Thanks for your opinion regarding everyone currently in the race.

    BTW- Leo Burt- You missed my “sterling” reference. You do know who Leo Burt is, don’t you? The real Leo Burt is still wanted by the FBI Not a very popular person in Wisconsin.

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