Building A Democratic Leadership Bench-- In Wisconsin


In Friday’s #DemForum, Bernie Sanders reiterated that to be truly successful, Democrats must reinstate the “50 State Strategy.” This letter is about that— rebuilding the Democratic party from the ground up— starting at ground zero for conservative skullduggery, Wisconsin.”

The whole country had a chance to look at Scott Walker a few times over the last couple of years, most recently as he stumbled through-- and then out of-- the Republican presidential primary, where even early backers like the Koch brothers were horrified by his terrible performance. How did this clown even get elected governor of a sensible state like Wisconsin? Well... it all started when he ran for the state Assembly in 1990 and lost to now-Congresswoman Gwen Moore in a landslide. He was only 22 and he figured out he'd have to find a whiter, more bigoted and more right-wing place to run from. So he moved west to the wealthy suburb of Wauwatosa (90% white), ran for its much more conservative Assembly district and won-- five times. He was a union-bashing ALEC member right from day-one and made a name for himself as a right-wing extremist in the state legislature.

In 2002, when Milwaukee County Executive, corrupt, conservative Democrat Tom Ament, resigned over a pension fund scandal, Walker was a shoe-in because voters were eager to punish the Democrats. (No Republican had ever won the office before-- or after). Walker used that position to launch a bid for the governor's mansion in 2010 and won with 52% of the vote.

In 2011 wealthy conservative Democrat Chris Abele-- son of the founder of Boston Scientific-- defeated right-wing Republican Jeff Stone with 61% of the vote. He's not as bad as Walker... but almost. And he wants to run for governor in 2018. Keep in mind, he worked with reactionary Republican lawmakers in the Wisconsin Legislature to subvert the democratically elected school board by giving him the power to close schools, fire teachers, and open charter schools in their place. This piece of legislation would have only moved forward if the County Executive had been willing to use these powers, and Chris Abele stood up and said he would. He also cooperated with the Republicans in the legislature to strip oversight from the democratically elected Milwaukee County board over county land sales. He has sole authority on a number of them, and first used this power to sell prime downtown real estate to the Milwaukee Bucks billionaire owners for $1. (No, I did not forget any additional digits-- one buck for the owner of the Bucks.) And, in an effort to secure public financing for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena, Abele put $80 million of Milwaukee County taxpayer money on the table, and wanted to help pay for it in part by allowing Scott Walker’s state government to collect outstanding property taxes from residents who can’t afford to pay their bills.

Now our old friend, state Senator Chris Larson, is running for this job. Chris, a Milwaukee County native and the youngest member of the state Senate, served as Democratic leader in 2013­-14. He was first elected by defeating conservative Democrat and Scott Walker ally Jeff Plale. The big money was with incumbent Plale, but Chris beat him by knocking on doors and having thousands of conversations with his neighbors. We got to know Chris during his first term in office when he was one of the "Wisconsin Senate 14" who fled Wisconsin to stop Walker’s disastrous "budget repair bill." Chris is campaigning on ending the takeover and privatization of Milwaukee Public Schools and for an array of progressive quality of life issues important to working families. 

"I want to take back the county for the middle class. We have a county executive who campaigned one way and governed another way very quickly. In the past five years he broke promises and broke away from who he was. He’s changed. I think he’s grown out of touch and I think he’s grown more out of touch over the last five years. I think it’s important to have a county executive who is going to be a steward for the county for the long term and actually care for the parks and restore them to greatness and expand transit so that people have access to jobs that’s affordable, and also to usher in a long-term vision that’s balanced. A county executive has to actually listen to people and be responsive to their needs. That’s why the first pledge I made out of the gate was to do a public listening session in each municipality in each year we’re in office, a la Russ Feingold."

The election is in April. If you'd like to contribute to Chris' grassroots campaign, you can do it through the Blue America ActBlue page for Milwaukee County Executive. We promise it goes to an important, just cause.



Blue America Endorses Russ Feingold


If there was one race that indicated that the 2010 midterm GOP sweep was a sign of the end times, it was the fact that Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold had been unseated by a Tea Partying cretin by the name of Ron Johnson. The plastics manufacturer bought himself the seat with nearly 9 million dollars of his own fortune and many millions in outside PAC money. One would have thought that a grown man building a statue of Ayn Rand and running on the “Atlas Shrugged” platform would have put them off, but like all the winning Tea Partyers that year, his dishonest claim that Feingold’s vote for Obamacare would result in everyone over 65 being thrown into Lake Michigan (or something just as bad) meant that he got a shot.

Five years later the state is drowning in regret, with Johnson mired in less than 40% approval , his constituents embarrassed and ashamed.

And they want Russ Feingold back! He is leading Johnson in every poll that’s been done this year, the most recent a PPP Poll that puts him up 9 points. He’s up 14 points among Independents and even manages to get Republicans in the double digits. Let’s just say that Wisconsin knows they made a mistake.

Luckily, Feingold is rested and ready to take his seat back. He announced this week and Blue America is enthusiastically endorsing him as we have in every race he’s been in since we first started. Nothing would be more thrilling to us than to see both Wisconsin progressive stalwarts, Russ Feingold and Tammy Baldwin, in the US Senate together.

If you’re wondering if Feingold has trimmed his sails in the last five years, wonder no more. The first thing he did after he announced was come out swinging without hesitation against the Trans Pacific partnership trade deal:

"The economy has definitely been improving, and things like the stock market are doing better. But the economy has to be good for working-class and middle-class families who work every day, send their kids to a school like is in front of my house, and they have to be able to enjoy their lives. That's why you don't pass a trade agreement that ships even more jobs overseas."

In case you still think he might not be the kind of Senator who will join that growing bloc of progressives in the Senate, perhaps this endorsement will put your mind at ease:

Elizabeth Warren said "Just the idea of having Russ by my side in the Senate makes me happy. But I don’t kid myself: We’ve got a really, really big fight in front of us for that to happen."

She’s asking her supporters to get behind Feingold early to help him offset the gusher of cash the right wing money boyz are preparing to throw at Ron Johnson.

We’re asking you to help too.

Russ Feingold was a great Senator and we know he will be a great Senator again. Blue America is proud to endorse him. We hope you’ll join us and give what you can to help put this man of conscience and integrity back in the Senate where he belongs.



Turn Up The Heat On Congress Over FISA

Run, don't walk...

Christy at FDL has all the pertinent numbers.

There has always been a tension between individual liberty and governmental power. National security issues are a natural fault line, given the difficulty of protecting the nation while simultaneously upholding the values of freedom and liberty. And politicians, bless their hearts, always try to find ways to consolidate their power while pretending to do so in the public interest -- and not their own and that of their cronies who benefit in some way from their decisions.

They miscalculated this time regarding how many people in America are paying attention to civil liberties concerns these days. And it is our job to make certain that they learn just how badly they have misjudged this.

It is one of the many reasons we are working so hard to build incentive through our Blue America FISA actions. (You can donate here.)

UPDATE: Sen. Russ Feingold has a factsheet on FISA and why it's a bad deal for Americans.



Chris Carney, Comcast and Warrantless Wiretaps

Blue America has been asking for donations to help in our nonpartisan campaign to hold members of Congress accountable when they vote against the Constitution. For the past two weeks we've been running TV spots, radio spots and newspaper ads in Chris Carney's northeast Pennsylvania congressional district to make sure his constituents know that he is behaving like a Republican rubber stamp, not like the Democrat they thought they elected in 2006. Today the ACLU, as well as Senators Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold issued strong statements showing what a complete sham the "compromise" the Republicans and a handful of reactionary Democrats have worked out. On top of that, as Glenn Greenwald explained yesterday, Comcast-- Carney's #2 campaign donor-- is protecting him from his own constituents by censoring the debate and refusing to allow the Blue America ads to run (although all the radio ads, 7 full page newspaper ads and the non-Comcast TV ads have all been running). Listen to the Blue America radio ad that has been running all over Carney's district.

I'm sure you can guess which side of this battle John W. McCain is on. If you would like to stand with Blue America, most congressional Democrats and Barack Obama in preventing warrantless wiretaps on American citizens and preventing retroactive immunity for criminal allies of the Bush Regime please consider even a $5 or $10 contribution to the Blue America vs Retroactive Immunity fund today.




Paid for by Blue America PAC, blueamerica.crooksandliars.com, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.