I forwarded nine questions to the candidates for the Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. I will share them with you this week as we get ready for the state party convention on June 2/3.
To try to be fair I am publishing these in the order they were received. First up is Joe Donovan!
1) Why are you running for chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin?
The leadership of our party has not been attentive to the priorities of the people we serve. I hope to bring attentive, innovative, and effective leadership to our Party to restore trust and regain voter confidence in our Party.
I bring a skill set that will dramatically grow our Party membership. We will train and prepare our volunteers so that their efforts are more effective. We will recruit and support candidates with messaging that reflects the hopes, aspirations, and values of Wisconsin residents. When we are working for the priorities of working people of Wisconsin, we will win elections up and down the ballot.
2) What experience and skills do you bring to the role to insure your success as chair?
I was fortunate to have parents who were very active in the Democratic Party in Marinette County. I was campaigning with my father putting up yard signs and knocking on doors for John F. Kennedy when I was eleven years old. I have years of county party organizing experience serving as an officer in the Marinette County party and also as chair of the Milwaukee County West side democrats.
I co-founded an Employee Owned company (Donovan & Jorgenson Inc.) in Waukesha County in 1985 with a mission to conserve energy and reduce air pollution by promoting and installing solar systems, heat pumps, and high efficiency furnaces. I served as President and executive director from 1985 to 2016 helping grow the organization to 70 full-time employees and more than 50,000 customers in Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties. The company remains the largest residential HVAC provider in the state of Wisconsin. I am prepared to bring my experience and give a full-time commitment to build our Party.
2016 was a big disappointment for Wisconsin Democrats with Donald Trump winning the state and Senator Ron Johnson’s re-election.
3) What could we have been done better in 2016?
In April of 2016, our State Party Chair made a horrendous mistake not to support the majority of Wisconsin democratic voters choice of Bernie Sanders. Democratic voters of Wisconsin sent a message that they wanted change. When they were ignored by Party leadership, they sent a message to our party in November and we now live with the consequences that decision. That decision caused resentment towards our Party, and it is critical that we change leadership to make it clear that we understand the need for immediate change.
4) What did work or what worked better than expected in 2016?
There isn’t much that worked better than expected in 2016.
5) What other takeaways do you see from the 2016 election cycle?
It is clear that many County Party organizations are not getting the support needed from the State Party to build their organization. It would be very helpful if the next State Party Chair has County Party organizational experience.
6) Watching social media we often see a dichotomy in the public perception on the DPW’s role in picking candidates. Some feel that the party finds candidates and foists them on the membership while others think the party doesn’t do enough to recruit qualified candidates. What do you think the party’s role is in developing candidates?
The developing of candidates starts with the understanding of issues, the party platform, and the priorities of the people being served. In the constitution of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, it clearly states that the County organizations have the responsibility of recruiting candidates, but the State Party is there to provide the support necessary.
7) 2018 promises to be a tough election cycle. How do we defeat Governor Scott Walker and Speaker Paul Ryan while re-electing Senator Tammy Baldwin?
We win in 2018 by clarifying to independent voters why voting democratic is in their best interest. We strengthen our platform, our membership, and political effectiveness. We convey our messaging more clearly, making sure we have Democratic candidates running for every State office, and getting people out to vote.
8) Do you foresee any changes in the DPW during your chairpersonship?
Yes, communication with and appreciation of county organizations is critical. Making it clear that we are all interdependent. We need to set measurable membership goals and be more attentive to county organizations that need help or guidance. We need improved websites. We need to hire local organizers whenever possible. We must grow our Party membership, and we will if I am elected State Chair of our Party.
9) What other thoughts would you like share with the readers of Blogging Blue?
The choice of our chair on June 3rd will send a message to Wisconsin voters. If we re-elect the current chair, it may be interpreted as “content with how things are going”. If we make a change, it may be interpreted that “we can do better”. I believe we can do better, and am prepared to bring my successful experience to our party and build an organization the will elect candidates in the so we can implement our Party platform.
For more info on Joe, click here!