Special Update from Your
Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair

Dear Friends,

As we head into the New Year, and as this one draws to a close, we thought we’d take a second to reflect on the wonderful year we’ve had and how much we’ve done to prepare for all of the challenges and opportunities that 2020 will bring. Starting in January and continuing up until today, we have a lot to be proud of as we look back.

We kicked 2019 off with the inauguration of four brand-new State Constitutional Officers: Gov. Tony Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Attorney General Josh Kaul, and Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. When you add in Secretary of State Doug LaFollette, this was the first time that all of our statewide constitutional officers had been Democrats since 1981.

This new team immediately went to work and rolled out the People’s Budget. It called for putting money back in the pockets of everyday Wisconsinites, investing in our kids and their teachers, and expanding Medicaid to make sure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare.

Most importantly, the People’s Budget sent a strong signal that for the first time in a long time, we had a governor who listened to the will of the people. More than 70% of Wisconsinites wanted to expand Medicaid, which would bring affordable health insurance to more than 80,000 people, reduce premiums for everyone, and save our state over $324 million, allowing us to invest more than $1.6 billion on healthcare for Wisconsinites.

But Republicans did what they always do and disregarded the best interests of Wisconsin families by removing items like Medicaid Expansion from the budget. Nevertheless, we organized hard, held Republicans accountable to their votes and reaffirmed our demand that we have leaders who listen to the people.

In the Spring, we had an off-year election where we unfortunately came up short — State Supreme Court Candidate Lisa Neubauer lost her race by just 6,000 votes. The slim margin further highlighted the fact that in 2020, we can’t afford to take any vote for granted. And while this was a disappointing result, we turned out 40,000 more voters than we had in 2018 when Rebecca Dallet cruised to victory.

The spring also brought good news: in March, we learned that the 2020 Democratic National Convention would be hosted in Milwaukee! This would not have been possible were it not for the hard work of so many of our elected officials, community leaders, and DPW staff. With this decision, the DNC sent a strong signal that Wisconsin will not be taken for granted this time around.

Photo: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Speaking of conventions, we held our own state convention in June. At the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee, we started building the foundation our party will depend on in the future, starting with electing new leadership  me, Chair Ben Wikler, Vice Chair Felesia Martin, and Second Vice Chair Lee Snodgrass. We thanked our outgoing chair, Martha Laning, for her years of service and wished her well in her future pursuits.

Under our new leadership, we’ve launched an immense organizing program in the last six months. As of this writing, we already have 23 field staff and well over 200 neighborhood teams in place throughout the state.

We worked with our county parties to show our organizing strength through campaigns like #1Year2Win when we knocked on the doors of 50,000 Wisconsinites in one weekend — more than all the doors we did in 2015 and 2017 combined. The scale of these efforts were unprecedented, especially for an off-year before an election.

The stakes for the 2020 election couldn’t be higher. When we have a president in Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans who, at every turn, carry out their most cruel instincts, like taking food stamps from poor families, or stripping our healthcare away, or ripping children away from their parents and caging them at our border. Our ideal of a Wisconsin that does better when everyone does better is under assault more than it has ever been. Defeating Trump will be the most important work of our lives.

We have to expect the 2020 election to come down to a razor-thin margin. It will be the toughest fight we’ve ever experienced. However, if we do everything we can do, if we don’t take anyone for granted or write anyone off, we’ll not only win — we’ll build the kind of party and movement that can change Wisconsin for the long term, for the better.

We’ve built our party around our four values of FIRE: to fight on the issues year-round, every year; to include and respect all members of our vast coalition — urban, rural and suburban alike; and to empower our grassroots network with the tools and technology they need to succeed.

And we’re bringing these principles to the fights ahead in 2020 and beyond — winning the Supreme Court race in the spring, inspiring thousands of volunteers at the 2020 National Convention to join us for GOTV, stopping Vos’s supermajority, defeating President Trump, and organizing for the future.

2019 was full of exceptional productivity and excitement for the Wisconsin Democratic Party. We couldn’t be more optimistic about our chances. Whether you’ve donated a couple of dollars or spent a weekend or two knocking on doors (or dozens of hours every week!), every little bit has helped us get one step closer to success in 2020. So thank you for a great year and for being with us in this fight. And have a Happy New Year!

–Ben


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