I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to make an endorsement in the race to succeed Mike Tate as Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), and until this weekend I had intended on not making an endorsement. My reluctance to make an endorsement for DPW Chair was due in large part to my belief that each of the five candidate for DPW Chair possessed different strengths and experiences that I’d like the next DPW Chair to have, and so I didn’t feel there was an “ideal” candidate in the race. However, as I’ve thought about the direction I’d like to see the Democratic Party of Wisconsin take over the next few years and who might be able to best move the party in a new direction, I began to realize that there is in fact a candidate running for DPW Chair who can move the party in a new, more positive direction.
That’s why I’m endorsing Martha Laning for Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
As I noted above, my endorsement of Martha Laning for DPW Chair isn’t made lightly, nor is it an endorsement I make without risk of alienating myself from the establishment of Democratic Party of Wisconsin, but it’s an endorsement I felt I had to make. After evaluating each of the candidates for DPW Chair and comparing their ideas on how to move the Democratic Party of Wisconsin forward, Martha Laning just stood out to me as a solid progressive with the best ideas on how to move the Democratic Party of Wisconsin forward in a way that improves not only the party’s messaging, but also that works towards rebuilding the party across the state.
In regards to messaging, I believe Martha Laning’s ideas on messaging that is not only values-driven but also more personal and relatable for the voters that the party needs to bring back into the fold is the right approach to take to move the Democratic Party of Wisconsin forward. Instead of simply being against Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican allies in the Legislature, we Democrats (starting with the DPW itself) need to define what we’re for. Democrats have a message that should resonate with poor and working people across Wisconsin, regardless of gender, ethnic background, religious beliefs, or whether those folks live in cities like Milwaukee or rural communities like Mineral Point.
What’s more, I’m endorsing Martha Laning because she represents a break from “politics as usual” within the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Much has been made recently of the fact that Martha Laning does not have a perfect voting record and was not a dues-paying member of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin until a year or two ago, but I don’t believe for a second Martha Laning is not qualified to serve as DPW Chair simply because she doesn’t have a perfect voting record or wasn’t a dues-paying member until recently. The fact is, there are 1.5 million voters in Wisconsin who vote for Democrats but who aren’t dues-paying members of the party, and I don’t consider those folks to be lesser Democrats than anyone who happens to pay dues to the party. I think it’s wrong to deem a candidate less “pure” or qualified to hold the position simply because they can’t live up to an artificial standard. The fact is, Martha Laning cares about moving the Democratic Party of Wisconsin forward, and that’s the only standard any of us should care about when it comes to choosing our next Party Chair.
Though I’m not a delegate to the 2015 Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention, I’m proud to endorse Martha Laning, because I think she would serve Wisconsin’s Democrats well as their next Party Chair.