Last week, I was hit by a lightning bolt. (A figurative one, not a literal one.)
I was at a conference of state party chairs in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I met the state’s wonderful new governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham—who gave a speech about what Democrats there have done since they won total control of the state government last fall. In short: they passed their entire progressive agenda. In one term. Bill after bill, signed into law.
In Minnesota, they did the same thing in 2013. And here in Wisconsin, we’ve done it too: in 1975, and in 1911. Legislative sessions that went down in history, and changed lives.
We have a lot to do over the next couple of years here in Wisconsin. But hearing about New Mexico’s triumph was a reminder to me of what we’re fighting for, no matter how long it takes: the moment when, as former state legislator Mary Lou Muntz once told me about that 1975 legislative session, “we write our values into the law.”
We’re going to keep fighting until we do it again.
The change we need, the change we debate and think about and work towards—it’s all possible. And, together, we’re going to build a Wisconsin Democratic party, and a movement capable of achieving it. That’s our North Star.
Thank you for being part of it.
Ben Wikler, Chair
Fighting on Issues:
Trump kicks off re-election campaign
President Trump officially launched his re-election campaign this week in Florida. Here in Wisconsin, we responded—by holding him to account on the issues. On a press call on Monday, we walked reporters through three of Trump’s most fundamental broken promises: Trump has tried to take our health care, he’s fleeced the public to give tax breaks to his wealthy friends, and he’s set off a trade war that is hammering our dairy farmers without making trade fair.
Trump has fanned fears and divided us by race and ethnicity to distract from the truth—that Trump only cares about himself.
It’s hard to overstate how important Wisconsin will be. Dave Wasserman, a data expert at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report says “there’s a very plausible scenario” where Wisconsin is the “tipping point” state in the Electoral College.
We need to show Trump that we won’t be complacent, that we will hold him accountable in 2020 for what he’s done to our state. As I said on WPR, it’s like the first Star Wars movie: we’ve got the plans for the Death Star. There’s one way to get to the heart of it and win. And that way is by winning the state of Wisconsin.
The People’s Budget
After weeks of cutting and slashing the People’s Budget, Republicans are set to bring their version of the budget to the Assembly and Senate floor on Tuesday. Their version of the budget fails to expand Medicaid, properly fund our schools or provide a sustainable solution to our transportation crisis.
Keep contacting your legislators. The fight for the will of the people isn’t over. We will hold Republicans accountable for refusing to listen to their constituents.
Lame-Duck Lawsuit Shot Down
Today conservatives’ hand-picked majority on the Supreme Court shot down a challenge to lame-duck laws passed by Republicans in December that kneecapped the incoming Democratic administration and blatantly ignored the will of voters.
As Democrats, we need to remember this moment. Republicans’ crusade to undermine our democratic norms and rig the system in their favor has been a decade in the making. If we don’t stop them in 2020 and 2022, the damage they can inflict may be irreparable.
In 2020 and beyond, we’re going to be fighting for our democracy itself.
Inclusion & Respect
Wisconsinites Celebrate Juneteenth
This past Wednesday was Juneteenth, a holiday that marks the actual day the last enslaved African-Americans were freed in Texas. It took two whole years after the Emancipation Proclamation for Union soldiers (including many Wisconsinites) to travel through the South and spread the word of freedom. Many southern slaveholders refused to free the people they owned, which is why June 19th, 1865 is a day of celebration.
This Wednesday and past weekend, communities across the nation and Wisconsin gathered to celebrate independence and freedom. Vice Chair Felesia Martin and I had the honor attending Juneteenth celebrations in Milwaukee and Madison.
Today the legacy of slavery and segregation is still felt by Black Americans. Wisconsin’s grave disparities in our education system, poverty and incarceration rates, and infant & maternal mortality rates are striking, and the reason Wisconsin often makes national headlines. Let’s come together and celebrate the victories of the past, while continuing to fight for a stronger, more equitable future, because this fight is far from over.
Thank you, Justice Abrahamson
This week we celebrated and thanked Justice Shirley Abrahamson for her decades of service on our state Supreme Court. She is a well-respected, active, passionate Judge, and was the first woman to be elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court!
On Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers, Gov. Jim Doyle, I and many others gathered in the Capital to celebrate Justice Abrahamson’s years of service. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg even delivered a video tribute:
“As lawyer, law teacher and judge, she has inspired legions to follow in her way, to strive constantly to make the legal system genuinely equal and accessible to all who dwell in our fair land.” – United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Perhaps most importantly, Shirley Abrahamson broke the glass ceiling and paved the way for future women to sit on the bench alongside her. She has fought relentlessly for fairness and equity both on and off the Court. May we carry her torch forward!
Our First Ever Official Pride Event
Second Vice Chair Lee Snodgrass attended the first Pride event ever held at the Capitol on Monday where Gov. Evers officially declared June as Pride Month. We are forever grateful to have a governor that not only recognizes the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals, but is also willing to fight for them.
Empower the Grassroots
This week, Felesia, Lee and I had the pleasure of meeting with Democrats from all across the state. We’re wasting no time in getting to know our grassroots army!
On Monday, I went to the LaCrosse Democratic Party Picnic. It was great to catch up the innovative ideas LCDP is implementing, including the “Blue House” initiative to win county and municipal races. That’s a model worth learning from all over Wisconsin.
On Thursday, Vice Chair Felesia Martin I had the privilege to speak and answer questions at the Sauk County Dems Meeting in Baraboo, chaired by our friend Tammy Wood. What an inspiring, energizing group! Thanks for the invitation to speak, and to all for great questions and support.
Today, Felesia and I met the 30 amazing, diverse young people who will be organizing with DPW this summer as part of Organizing Corps 2020. These are students who just finished their junior years in college, more than half young people of color, who will go through terrific training programs and do hands-on organizing work in Milwaukee and other parts of Wisconsin—and might well go on to work on campaigns and run for office themselves. An inspiring group!
Up & Coming Events
Saturday, June 22 – Tuesday, June 25 — Stand Up for Public Schools: March to Madison. Republicans have cut $900 million from Gov. Evers’ education budget, including an 83% reduction in Democrats’ investment in special education funding. Educators, parents, and concerned community members are marching 60 miles to Madison to demand Republicans give our schools the support they deserve. Chair Wikler will be joining marchers on Tuesday, June 25 to stand in solidarity.
Tuesday, June 25 — Chair Wikler will join Jefferson County Democrats at their annual picnic! Sen. Janice Ringhand and Rep. Don Vruwink will be speaking. Please join us!
Friday, June 28 – Sunday, June 30 — WisDems Weekend of Action! Find an event here.