What, exactly, is wrong with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin?

Last week I posted a piece about how I thought DPW Chair Martha Laning should resign. The feedback both here and on Facebook was predictable, and ran along lines we’ve heard previously.

It goes like this: the chair doesn’t really have much power, the systemic problems the party faces are beyond the chair’s control, if we want to really change the party we need to deal with both the systemic problems and the power brokers behind the scenes, etc. But here’s what we don’t know, and what we haven’t been able to find out over the last several years.

If the chair doesn’t really have much power, then exactly what does the chair actually do? How does the person in this position spend their day? And how do the 15 other staff currently listed on the DPW website spend their day? With 16, presumably, full time staff people on the job, we currently have 640 hours a week of staff time devoted to advancing the cause of electing democrats across the state.

And if the chair of the DPW and her staff don’t really have much power, then who does? Do they have names? Are they at the helm of organizations that run parallel to the DPW? If so, what organizations, and how do the people that staff these organizations spend their day?

I can almost guarantee you that the bulk of the 14,000 members of the DPW statewide couldn’t answer these questions, and neither can I, even though I’ve been asking them since well before Mike Tate left office.

It’s time for some answers. It’s probably time for a radical restructuring of the entire edifice of both the party and its allied entities, but we won’t know what’s needed until there’s some stark transparency about what’s going on now.


Related Articles

14 thoughts on “What, exactly, is wrong with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin?

  1. Wouldn’t it be fair for the members of the state Democratic Party to request an accounting of what each and every staff member does with their time? If not, why not?

  2. Couldn’t agree more. Unless the DPW is asking for a donation or complaining about the republicans they’re silent.

  3. Where do we go from here? I wish I knew. It’s not just the DPW…the whole Democratic Party needs to reform nationwide, or it will go where the Whigs have gone.

  4. Steve, I appreciate your effort to find a solution to the recent loss either at the leadership level or other areas.

    One we must consider as a primary cause is that of Wisconsin’s gerrymandering and the slow course of appeal justice.

    Laning or even St Jude (patron of lost causes) could not have overcome the rigging of the vote process by the Republican gerrymandering.

    1. Gerrymandering has zero effect on statewide or nationwide offices such as governor or president…

      I believe we have to place major blame on the national Democratic Party for all but ignoring Wisconsin during the campaigns…where was Hillary? where was Obama? They took us for granted and it bit them in the *ss.

      The Democratic party desperately needs new blood…not necessarily just younger people, but older folks who have never been a real part of the party other than voting for candidates…we need that mix of ages at every level of the organization…national, state, local.

    2. Very true. In my area, I saw some very hard working quality Democratic candidates who lost to GOP incumbents, some of whom did literally no campaigning whatsoever. None of the Democrats got more than about 38% of the vote, despite plenty of GOTV activities, advertising, yard signs, doing well in debates, etc. Very uniform results across the board. If that doesn’t tell you that gerrymandering works, I guess nothing will.

      It’s also very telling that some of these losing Democrats still got more votes in their districts than either Hillary or Russ. The top of the ticket was a downward dragger in this election.

    1. Simple, they have forgotten the working people that Tommy, Reagan and Trump get. They listen to the dingbat left and talk bout Climate Control, redistribution, instead of jobs, education and crime.

    2. I’ve seen that article posted in multiple places, but what I don’t see anywhere is anything about the author. Who in the hell is the Forsetti in the article linked above, titled ” Forsetti Justice?” What justice might he be pursuing? It’s an exceedingly long winded rant by an anonymous author making claims that cannot be verified at all. We just got done with an election that saw no less a public figure than Stephen Colbert decry the influence that fake news on Facebook might have had on voters. This is worse than fake news, it could well be fake opinion.

  5. There is a lot wrong with the DPW. The party refuses to change the way they do business and intolerant of any criticism.

    There are many things that needed to change when Lanning took over and it appears that she picked up where Mike Tate left off and the majority of Democrats seem to be OK with that even though we continue to loose one election after another.

    How in the world did Feingold and Clinton loose Wisconsin? I hear people say they lost because they ran poor campaigns. What role did the DPW play in these races?

    Until the DPW cleans up its own house, we will continue to be the minority party of Wisconsin.

  6. Well…
    DPW staff working this month on State Senate recount in LaCrosse. Takes time and money to fight a recount with main task of finding provisional ballot voters and getting them to clerk’s office to vote.

    Also working on collecting data to figure out what happened. Voting data, surveys, etc… to collect info before determining how to address loss that had similar outlines in numerous midwest states.

    There’s no conspiracy here. Small staff working hard to put Democrats in best position possible to win elections.

  7. Much of the power within the DPW rests with the
    Administrative Committee. The details are in the
    Constitution and bylaws. As I recall they have extensive final authority and delegate it to the chair.
    The targeted races in the assembly and the senate
    are run by the respective minority leaders through the assembly dems campaign committee and the
    Senate dems campaign committee. Clinton and Feingold ran their own campaigns. That leaves the
    Party chair helping candidates run in races where the candidate would need a miracle to win.
    Campaigns should move from
    top down control to empowering local volunteers.

  8. I have read your blog post and it is spot on. So— Martha Lansing and her lemmings have no power, but the Republican Party of Wisconsin does, is that the idea?
    It is a ludicrous statement and even worse a ludicrous proposition that someone would head the Democratic Party of Wisconsin only to be humiliated and taken to the woodshed, month after month, year after year and we hear nothing in protest. We hear no words of action. Nothing, but give us donations so we can continue to do nothing.
    It is also a preposterous idea that the Martha cannot do her own job description. It is like a surgeon saying he cannot operate or a teacher saying she cannot teach and really saying nothing so we don’t even know about it and never hear about it, BUT THE AUDACITY OF TAKING A SALARY AND BALD FACED LYING TO THE PUBLIC OF WISCONSIN IN WHAT THEY ARE DOING ON LINE, WHEN THEY ARE ACTUALLY DOING NOTHING.
    Finally, anyone can get out the vote. Anyone. 40,000 Democratic voters in Milwaukee did not vote in November Is Ms. Lansing claiming she could not get off her fat butt and go door to door to get out the vote? Or she could not get volunteers?
    You are right. Buck passers. Nebishes. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is the most neutered State Democratic Party Office in the country. It is embarrassing and what is worse, Ms. Lansing and the rest of those idiots don’t even feel bad for taking a paycheck for destroying peoples lives and the democratic party in the state. It is truly disgusting.

Comments are closed.