My reasons for endorsing Bryan Kennedy as the next chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin are pretty simple.
He’s obviously got guts, having run twice against GOP eternalist Jim Sensenbrenner, achieving the second highest vote percentage ever against the amorphously paleolithic Sensenbrenner during his interminable 40 year stint in Congress.
He’s obviously a progressive with integrity, having cast his delegate vote for Senator Bernie Sanders at the DNC convention in Philadelphia last year.
And Kennedy obviously knows how to win, having served three terms as the elected President of Wisconsin’s American Federation of Teachers, three terms on the Glendale River Hills School Board, and most recently as Mayor of Glendale, a suburb north of Milwaukee.
But it’s Kennedy’s commitment to year round issue based organizing, including in rural areas, that really won me over. For at least ten years my wife Shelly and I have implored democrats at the local and state level to invest in a brick and mortar organizing infrastructure, infused with local people, that can do ongoing community outreach to educate voters about the DPW platform.
As both a professional and volunteer organizer I’ve knocked on many thousands of working class doors in northwest Wisconsin over a lot of years, frequently off-list, and I firmly believe that the potential to bring in new voters, and to win over large swaths of independents, is both tremendous and largely untapped. But it takes a face, and a name, some familiarity, and a consistent presence. You can’t create progressive political majorities with TV ads, glossy mailers, and well meaning out-of-state young people flown into the district three months before election day.
Yet in spite of tons of anecdotal evidence and solid research demonstrating that face to face contact is the best way to engage and mobilize people, all our words have fallen on deaf Democratic Party of Wisconsin ears. The machine grinds on of its own accord, millions of dollars continue to flow to consultants, and the losses continue to pile up.
Bryan Kennedy has a solid, concrete plan to change that. I’ve read his 20 page blueprint for change and his rural organizing plan, and I’ve talked to him at length over the phone. He’s the real deal. We had a conversation during which I actually got to talk. He actually listened. He intends to recruit ward captains in every voting ward in Wisconsin. He intends to give local people the resources to reach local voters in ways that make sense to them. He intends to grow a bench of local candidates who get support from Madison instead of marching orders. I’ve already volunteered to be one of the thousands of ward captains he intends to recruit. I’m convinced that he’s a true progressive, that he’s determined to win, and that he’s on a winning path.
So count me in, sign me up, and let’s get this thing done. I hereby endorse Bryan Kennedy as the next chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.