The Prairie Badger will be archived on December 1, 2014

Effective December 1, 2014, I will no longer be posting new articles here at The Prairie Badger, although I’ll keep the site online for archival purposes.

I will be moving all of my blogging activity (save for the occasional contribution to DailyKos and a couple of other sites) to The Progressive Midwesterner, which you can view here. I’ll write primarily about Wisconsin, Illinois, and national politics there.

Far-right judicial activist Rebecca Bradley would be the wrong Bradley for the Wisconsin Supreme Court

Rebecca Bradley, a Milwaukee County circuit court judge, is running for the seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court held by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, one of the two liberals on the Wisconsin Supreme Court (the court currently has four conservatives, two liberals, and one moderate).

Democrats and progressives need to organize against Rebecca quickly for two reasons: 1) the state supreme court election in Wisconsin is just a few months away (non-partisan primary scheduled for February 2015 if more than two candidates file to run, and, in any case, general election scheduled for April 2015), and 2) Rebecca is a far-right judicial activist who would be a hyperpartisan rubber stamp for Scott Walker and his far-right Republican allies if elected to Wisconsin’s highest court.

You see, Rebecca, who was originally appointed to the Milwaukee County bench by Walker, is a member of the Federalist Society, a far-right organization whose aim is to impose a destructive, far-right, anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-democracy, and anti-middle class agenda via judicial fiat. Rebecca, like her protegé Rudolph Randa, believes that political corruption is a form free speech, that women shouldn’t have the right to control their bodies, and that corporations should have more rights than the American people. That is a downright barbaric view of society, and Rebecca wants to implement her far-right views by judicial fiat.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, on the other hand, is, without a shadow of a doubt, the better Bradley in this race. Ann Walsh is an actual judge who interprets the law, not push some political agenda. I strongly encourage Wisconsinites to vote for Ann Walsh Bradley…you know, the better Bradley…in the upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court race. Here’s her campaign website!

The progressive takeover of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is for real

Rowan Viva, who is apparently not running for Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) this time around (her last attempt at doing so resulted in her not even making the convention ballot), is now organizing an effort to get progressives to register as DPW members in order to get slots as delegates to the upcoming DPW convention next year in Milwaukee:

**CALL TO ACTION FOR FIGHTIN’ WISCONSINITES!**

Please sign up *now* if you may be willing to serve as a delegate at the Democratic Party of WI state convention next June to vote in new leadership and create a grassroots-driven party that will fight for us . . . and win!

You do *not* currently need to be a party member, but you will need to join before the convention.

It only takes one Saturday, and it may be the most important thing you do for our state in the coming year.

Please email your name, phone number, email, address (+county) and current party member Yes or No to progressivedempartyofwi@gmail.com if interested.

This list will only be used to organize grassroots delegates to the state convention and will be kept confidential.

Thank you and please like and share!

(link added by me)

The only thing that is missing is the slate of progressive candidates for Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and other DPW offices.

Tanya Lohr reportedly considering running for Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair

I was notified by a source close to Washington County, Wisconsin Democratic Party chairperson Tanya Lohr that Lohr is considering running for Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairperson at the 2015 DPW Convention. However, Lohr would have to give up her teaching job in order to run for DPW chair, and, if there’s anything that would prevent her from running, it would be that.

My source, who I will not name at this time because I haven’t been authorized to mention the name of my source, is someone who is considering running in the upcoming special election in the 20th State Senate District of Wisconsin, which is being vacated by Republican crackpot Glenn Grothman after Grothman won election to Congress in the 6th Congressional District.

Lohr is the fourth person to either be considering running for DPW chair or rumored to be considering running that I know of (the other three being former DPW Chairman Joe Wineke, DNC member Jason Rae, and recently-defeated State Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink), and she’s, by far, the most progressive of those four. Let it put it this way: if Mike Tate were to not run for another term as DPW chair and Wineke, Rae, Vruwink, and Lohr were the four candidates running for DPW chair, you’d have a shill for the telecom industry (Wineke), a shill for millionaire philanthropists like Chris Abele (Rae), a shill for the gun lobby (Vruwink), and an actual progressive (Lohr). Guess which one I would endorse if that scenario were to occur…

Governor Walker, you are no Fighting Bob La Follette

In an editorial by The Wall Street Journal’s Joseph Rago, Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who is considering running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2016, compared himself to Fighting Bob La Follette, who made Wisconsin a progressive bastion during the Progressive Era of American politics in the early 20th century.

While I highly doubt that Walker is reading this blog post, here are my words for him: Governor, you are no Fighting Bob La Follette.

Unlike Walker, who busted unions, drove down the take-home pay of public employees, made it easier for employers to discriminate against women, and made it harder for Wisconsinites to exercise their right to vote, Fighting Bob fought for progressive ideals such as getting the undue influence of money out of politics, making it easier for Wisconsinites to vote, and championed minimum wage laws, workers’ compensation, and many other progressive ideals. In short, Walker is on the side of the Koch Brothers and other right-wing business interests, who are the modern-day equivalent of the robber barons that Fighting Bob railed against over a century ago.

Walker is no Gaylord Nelson, no Bill Proxmire, and no Russ Feingold. Nelson championed clean air, clean water, and protecting the environment, but Walker wants to pollute Lake Superior by opening an open-pit iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills region of the state. Bill Proxmire fought against actual wasteful spending, such as presidential inauguration ceremonies that were more lavish than necessary and on a U.S. Army study on how to buy Worcestershire sauce (although some of the government spending Proxmire criticized actually benefited the American people), but Walker thinks that social safety net programs are more wasteful than actual wasteful spending, like handing out corporate welfare to political cronies. Russ Feingold fought to protect the civil liberties of the American people, but Walker had the Wisconsin Capitol Police arrest people for exercising their First Amendment right to sing.

Walker is no James Groppi and no Lori Compas. Groppi and Compas both understood what it really means to be a progressive and fight for progressive values. Walker doesn’t understand what it means to be a progressive, because he’s a hard-line conservative who has fought against Democrats and progressives throughout his entire political career.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time that Scott Walker has lied about his political beliefs and whitewashed Wisconsin’s political history to promote his far-right corporate agenda and his presidential ambitions.

DPW Chair Mike Tate to announce future plans in January, praises Scott Walker in Mike Gousha interview

In response to high-grade rumors that he won’t run for another term as DPW chairman, embattled Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) chairman Mike Tate announced that he’ll decide whether or not to run for another two-year term in January of next year.

In the same interview in which he announced a timetable for a decision on whether or not he’ll run for another term as DPW chair, Tate, whose track record as DPW chairman has been absolutely awful and has refused to take responsibility for the Democratic losses in the November 2014 elections, praised Scott Walker in his interview with WISN-TV’s Mike Gousha:

…But you have Scott Walker, and they’re someone in my — it’s difficult for my party to understand, but people have a genuine affection for him. Especially in the Green Bay market and northern Wisconsin, they think this is a guy who came in and took bold action…

Yes, you’re reading that correctly…the chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin publicly praised Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a televised interview. Sadly, Democrats praising Republicans is far too commonplace in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin…Tammy Baldwin ran a TV ad praising Republican Congressman Reid Ribble in her 2012 U.S. Senate Campaign, Martha Laning bizarrely claimed in one of her ads that good ideas have come from Republicans in her unsuccessful state senate campaign in the Maintowoc/Sheboygan area this year, Mary Burke ran an ad praising former Republican President Ronald Reagan when she ran against Scott Walker this year, and I could list numerous other examples of Wisconsin Democrats praising Republicans and giving them political cover. I’ve heard more Republican-praising from Democratic candidates in Wisconsin than championing of progressive values and ideals, and I find it to be downright annoying.

Also, the only reason many people in Wisconsin have an affection for Scott Walker in the first place is because Mike Tate pushes corporate candidates like Tom Barrett and Mary Burke who whine about Walker dividing Wisconsin, preach compromise with the very Republicans that are destroying everything that is/was good about Wisconsin, and so on. Instead, Democratic candidates in Wisconsin should be proudly and unapologetically championing progressive ideals every step of the way, talking about how a sweeping progressive agenda would benefit Wisconsinites, and making Scott Walker’s far-right agenda look as absurd as possible and, most importantly, refusing to compromise the core progressive principles that Democrats in Wisconsin are supposed to stand for. Democrats in Wisconsin lack a unified message that can be used to bludgeon Republicans and help Democrats get elected, and Democrats in Wisconsin are not going to have a unified message until millionaire philanthropists like Mary Burke and Chris Abele, corporate hacks like Tom Barrett, Ron Kind, and Lena Taylor, and incompetent party bosses like Mike Tate are purged from the party and progressives are in control of the party.

Robin “Boss” Vos isn’t fond of corporate welfare for proposed Milwaukee NBA arena…for all the wrong reasons

I agree with Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin “Boss” Vos on something…he’s not fond of the idea of handing out Wisconsinites’ taxpayer money to the owners of major sports franchises like the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, who have been forced by the NBA to either build a new arena in Milwaukee or relocate.

However, I strongly disagree with Boss Vos’s reasoning behind his apparent opposition to handing out corporate welfare for a proposed new NBA arena in Milwaukee:

“As I said this week, having one of the Bucks new owners go and greet Barack Obama on the tarmac in the middle of the Mary Burke campaign probably wasn’t the wisest decision,” Vos said Sunday on “Up Front with Mike Gousha.”

[...]

“I think it makes it harder for me to sell to our caucus,” Vos said. “Don’t forget, for people who live in most of the rest of Wisconsin, they look at Milwaukee as a place that already gets too much of our money. And now what you’re doing is making an even more difficult decision happen for a lot of folks around the state. So they’ve got to be a lot smarter with their technique. I mean, I want to bring those jobs and keep them in Wisconsin, but having us give hundreds of millions of dollars to big-time donors who give to Democrats, but also have billions of dollars of their own? That’s a hard sell. So I don’t think they need to do anything that makes my job more difficult.”

There is considerable opposition to corporate welfare for a proposed NBA arena in Milwaukee in both major parties in Wisconsin, in fact, I saw on social media that, to my surprise, a Milwaukee-area Democratic state legislator publicly state that he or she would only support corporate welfare for a new arena “if it went to referendum and won”, in effect, opposing corporate welfare for a proposed NBA arena in Milwaukee as a matter of principle. Since I don’t have permission to publicly state exactly who the state legislator in question is, I’m not going to divulge who it is beyond the fact that it is a Milwaukee-area Democratic state legislator.

While I’m strongly opposed to corporate welfare as a matter of principle, Boss Vos only opposes corporate welfare when Democrats benefit from it. Boss Vos has no problem whatsoever with handing out corporate welfare to Republican-owned businesses, after all, he supported the creation of Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), which has handed out considerably more corporate welfare to businesses in Republican state legislative districts than businesses in Democratic state legislative districts.

Not only did Boss Vos prove, once again, that he is a vindictive jackass by playing dirty, Chicago-style politics and implying that the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks would have to cease donations to Democrats and donate to him and/or other Republicans in order to get corporate welfare, he appears to have violated Wisconsin state law in doing so.

Bruce Murphy of Urban Milwaukee features me in article about growing Fire Mike Tate movement

Although I am a lifelong resident of Illinois, I’ve followed and written about Wisconsin politics on a regular basis from my computer since not long after the people of the State of Wisconsin showed up in Madison to protest Scott Walker’s anti-worker and anti-middle class agenda.

For the first time that I’m aware of, the Milwaukee-area online publication Urban Milwaukee mentioned a blog post that I wrote, and the blog post in question was about the growing movement of progressives calling for the resignation of Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) chairman Mike Tate because of his horrible track record at running the party. Bruce Murphy, who writes the “Murphy’s Law” series of columns for Urban Milwaukee, mentioned my blog post about the Fire Mike Tate movement in this column.

I’m sure there’s some of you who are asking yourself this question: Why would a lifelong Illinoisan get involved in a movement to call for the chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to resign? There are several reasons why:

  • I’m been interested in Wisconsin politics since the 2011 protests in Madison.
  • I’m very progressive and damn proud of it.
  • I believe that Wisconsin has a very progressive electorate, even though very conservative Republicans are able to win statewide elections and win large majorities in the state legislature. It’s worth noting that, in Jefferson County, which saw nearly 36,000 total ballots cast, Medicaid expansion (the “county” referendum on the Jefferson County Clerk’s page) got over 6,600 votes more than the Democratic gubernatorial candidate did.
  • Mike Tate has been an absolute failure as the leader of one of the weakest-state level Democratic Parties in the entire country…I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, and I’ll stand by what I’ve said about him.
  • Mike Tate was one of the big reasons (although not the only reason) why Mary Burke lost to Scott Walker last week, as Tate, by pushing Burke’s candidacy before it even began and while at least two other people were considering running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, effectively taking away Burke’s only real advantage as a gubernatorial candidate (the fact that she was largely a political outsider before running for governor) and turned her into the ultimate political insider.
  • Mike Tate and other Democratic Party leaders in Wisconsin have practiced Chicago-style machine politics, something that, as a lifelong Illinoisan and proud progressive, I’ve long despised.

Murphy’s column noted that Joe Wineke, Mike Tate’s predecessor at DPW chair, may run for his old job. Regarding the possibility of Wineke running for his old job, I’m not fond of him at all because he was formerly a corporate lobbyist for Big Telecom company AT&T. However, I will say this about Wineke: he seems to realize that Democrats in Wisconsin (as well as most other parts of the county) have not been aggressive enough at promoting progressive ideals on most issues. I think Wineke would be a slight improvement over Tate, although Wisconsin Democrats deserve a better leader than either Tate or Wineke.

Here’s some people I’d like to see run for DPW chairperson, in order from least likely to run to most likely to run:

  • John Nichols, progressive political author/columnist – I’m not sure if Nichols is a member of the DPW (I doubt it), but he knows what the winning Democratic formula in Wisconsin is.
  • Lori Compas, executive director of the Wisconsin Business Alliance – Compas is not a member of the DPW (meaning that she’d have to officially join the party in order to be eligible to run for state party chair), but she is a brilliant political organizer.
  • Melissa Sargent, state representative – Sargent is one of the most progressive state legislators, not just in Wisconsin, but in the entire country. More importantly, Sargent seems to understand how campaigns work and understands that it is very important for Democrats to advocate for progressive policies.
  • Chris Taylor, state representative – Considered to be a rising star in the Democratic Party, Taylor is also one of the most progressive state legislators in the entire country. Taylor also has considerable experience running political operations, as she ran Planned Parenthood’s Wisconsin political operation prior to entering electoral politics herself.
  • Bryan Kennedy, At-large DPW Administrative Committee member and former American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin President – I heard on social media a few months ago that Kennedy was considering a possible run for DPW chair, but I’ve gotten no feedback from him since then. Kennedy has described himself as a “labor progressive”, and I think that he’d be a good chairman for the DPW.

Make no mistake about it, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin needs real leadership change, and, despite the fact that I am a lifelong resident of a neighboring state who has never even been to Wisconsin, I’m more than willing to provide my blogging skills to an effort to make real change in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin happen.

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