Dear fellow Democrats,

This week, Robin Vos owned up to his goal for 2020: a GOP supermajority in the state legislature.

If Vos and Fitzgerald win supermajorities in the state legislature, Republicans will be not only be able to pass any laws they want—they’ll be able to lock in gerrymandered maps for another decade, until 2032.

In that scenario, my seven-year-old son will be graduating from high school before we have another shot at democracy in Wisconsin.

We can’t let Vos win.

Meanwhile, also this week, the team at Pod Save America teamed up with Change Research to poll Wisconsin—and found that here in the Dairy State, Trump and a generic Democratic presidential candidate are in a statistical tie for the general election. Trump is just one point behind.

We can’t let Trump win, either.

Which means we have to have a plan strong enough to do both—and the energy to make it happen.

That’s where all of us come in.

Here’s how I put it in a quote to the New York Times this week:

“In the rest of the country, there’s a Democratic primary going on,” said Ben Wikler, the chairman of the state Democratic Party. “In Wisconsin, we’re already starting the general election.”

Or, as the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram summarized it in their story “Parties start 2020 election efforts,” “the state Democratic Party’s new leader said he’s not taking anything for granted in 2020.”

This week at the state party, we took the vision we’ve been building and kicked off the formal strategic planning process to map out exactly what it will take to win all these fights at once. We’re working with some of the most brilliant Democratic campaigners in the country, a firm called 270 Strategies, which is led by the architects of Obama’s victorious campaigns, to build a month by month plan to get it done.

The goal is clear: bring the FIRE values—Fight, Include, Respect, and Empower—to the Five Fights: 1) spring elections, 2) national convention in the summer, 3) legislative races in the fall, 4) stopping Trump at the same time, and 5) building for the future all the way through.

This won’t be easy. But important things are hard. And this is as important as they come. 

Thanks for being part of the fight.

Ben


Fight on Issues:
Trump’s Economy Hurts Wisconsinites

One year ago, Trump called for a boycott of an iconic Wisconsin company: Harley-Davidson. Their sales took a dive, hurting Wisconsin workers. So this Monday, we held a press conference featuring a Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883 motorcycle on the steps of the Capitol to mark the occasion and explain the impact of Trump’s disastrous policies on our state.

We were even joined by another victim of Trump’s recklessness: a Harley bike!

Senator Janis Ringhand, cheesemaker Anna Landmark, and I explained how Trump’s boycott was part of a pattern: his tax scam bill picked the pockets of hardworking Wisconsinites, and his reckless trade wars have exacerbated the dairy crisis afflicting family farms across Wisconsin.

Here’s some of the coverage we got:

CBS 58 — Wisconsin Democrats Discuss Impact of Trump’s Trade War

WKOW interviews local cheese maker and small business owner Anna Landmark

WKOW — Call out Trump on One Year Anniversary of Him Calling for Boycott of Harley

CBS 58: “Tariffs are making an already terrible situation so much worse for farmers and our business owners in the dairy industry,” said Anna Landmark, the co-owner and cheesemaker at Landmark Creamery…“Big picture [President Trump] needs to repair the trade relationships and that’s entirely on him.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Democrats highlighted the one-year anniversary of Trump suggesting on Twitter that people should boycott Milwaukee icon Harley-Davidson Inc. for shifting some production overseas. The motorcycle-maker attributed the decision to a trade dispute with Europe. “Trump is hellbent on continuing down the road to economic chaos and ruin,” said Ben Wikler, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “We can’t afford another four years of his economic policies. He’s walking us to the brink of an economic recession and if it comes — and when it comes — we know he won’t be able to solve it.”

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Celebrating Social Security
(And Defending it from Trump)

We celebrated Social Security’s 84th birthday this week, and since it was signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Social Security has helped lift millions of Americans out of poverty. Unfortunately, it needs our support now more than ever — in his last 3 budget proposals, Trump has proposed slashing $26 billion from Social Security (and that’s after promising Wisconsinites he’d “save” their Social Security and said “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican”).

Without Social Security, 40% of Americans 65 and older would live below the federal poverty line. Our seniors deserve to retire with dignity and live free of poverty. But Trump wants to gut this essential social program that 1,212,439 Wisconsin seniors rely on.

And it’s not just seniors that benefit from Social Security; over 70,000 children in Wisconsin receive direct benefits from Social Security as well as 160,916 Wisconsin workers who received disability benefits thanks to Social Security in 2017.

This is why Democrats are fighting to protect programs like Social Security that provide immeasurable support to vulnerable communities. While we know Trump won’t stop his crusade to decimate Social Security, Medicare or the Affordable Care Act any time soon, we’re not going to let him get away with it any time soon.

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Preventing Gun Violence

After the devastating mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso this month,
our Democratic leaders have wasted no time in acting to curb gun violence.

Democrats introduced legislation this week to implement universal background checks to all gun purchases. This is a proposal with overwhelming bipartisan support — 81% of Wisconsinites support such commonsense gun safety reforms. 

Universal background checks would make Wisconsin safer for everyone, but Vos and Republican leadership have signaled that they have no desire to consider this legislation. That’s why we need to put the pressure on Republicans to do the right thing; call your legislators NOW and ask them to support Democrats’ gun safety legislation: 1-800-362-9472.

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Fighting Climate Change

This week Gov. Evers announced an executive order to create the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy with the goal of reaching carbon-free energy in Wisconsin by 2050. Gov. Evers made this proposal in his budget, but Republicans, refusing to acknowledge the existential threat of climate change, axed it in their rewrites.

That’s not stopping Gov. Evers, or any of our other Democratic leaders, from taking the necessary steps to curb climate change in Wisconsin.

Under AG Josh Kaul’s leadership, Wisconsin has joined 21 other states in a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s rollback of critical climate protections.

And it’s not just our elected officials leading the charge; this spring, high school students all across Wisconsin walked out of school to protest climate change—part of a global wave of youth protest to focus the world on urgent action to protect the climate. This week demonstrated that when Democrats are in office, the message is heard.

Wisconsin high school activists with the Youth Climate Action Team are planning more protests and organizing this fall, starting on September 20. Learn more here.

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Keeping Health Care Front & Center

This week, my friend and mentor Charlie Daniel invited me to meet with Dr. Ken Loving, executive director of Access Community Health Centers, where Charlie is the former board president. Access, which provided care to 28,000 Wisconsinites last year—including treatment for opioid addiction, free dental health care for kids, and behavioral health care—is exactly the kind of network where expanding Medicaid would make a life-changing difference for people in our state.

The Governor spoke at their annual banquet earlier this year and vowed to fight to expand Medicaid. At the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, we’ll keep fighting to ensure that everyone in Wisconsin gets the health care they need—and to stop Republicans from taking it away.


Include & Respect
Showing Up for Rural Wisconsin:
Lincoln County Dems Picnic

Lincoln County is a classic Obama-Obama-Trump county —and will be a vital battleground in 2020. Thankfully, under the leadership of county chair Melissa Schroeder, the Lincoln County Democrats are organizing to win. Last Sunday, DPW Secretary Meg Andreitsch, DPW Treasurer Randy Udell, and County Chairs Association Pat Kreitlow and I were grateful for the chance to address the Lincoln County Dems picnic, held at a beautiful 100-year-old lakeside cabin that was once a dancehall:

A few days after the visit, one of the great Democrats whom we’d spent time with became the centerpiece of a major story in the New York TimesHans Breitenmoser, who kick-started the movement for county boards to pass advisory resolutions urging a nonpartisan redistricting process—and for county citizens to pass referenda.

As Hans put it in the story:

“History tells us that our legislators are not going to have the courage to do the right thing unless they get nothing but pressure,” Hans Breitenmoser, a dairy farmer and Lincoln County supervisor, said in an interview. “And the only way to do that is a grass-roots movement.”

Thanks for your leadership, Hans!

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Hello, Waukesha!

Little-known fact: Waukesha has the third-most Democrats of any county in Wisconsin.

Waukesha is often thought of as the state’s foremost Republican stronghold. And it’s true that there are many Republicans there. But Waukesha, and neighboring Ozaukee and Washington Counties—called the WOW counties—are one of the most critical electoral battlegrounds in the state. And their Democratic county parties are organizing like the world depends on it.

With many voters, Trump’s racism and extremism is backfiring in suburban Wisconsin. The Waukesha Dems are working to make sure the backfire becomes a blue wave.

Thanks so much to the Waukesha Dems for inviting me back to speak this Thursday night—and to the 107 fired-up activists who turned out to hear me speak and asked terrific questions!

And thanks especially to the High School Democrats of Waukesha County for taking the time to teach me about what they’re seeing and facing. I listened closely. The key issues they noted were climate change, women’s rights, gun violence, and immigration—a topic that touched several of the students personally. And the social media platforms they spent time on were Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube—not Facebook or Twitter like so many other Wisconsin Dems. Unsettlingly, they’re finding Trump ads on social media, clearly targeted to young people. Another reminder that we have to fight on every front.


Empower the Grassroots:
Weekend of Action

Our organizing team put together a fantastic weekend of action last week! The goal was to get first-time volunteers out to the doors. You probably remember your first time canvassing: it can be intimidating. But once you’re out in turf, you realize it’s just about having conversations with fellow Wisconsinites about things you care about.

Thanks so much to all of our field organizers, county parties, and team leaders for their work this weekend—and thanks especially to everyone who knocked a door for the first time!

Shout out to Ozaukee Dems for putting together an amazing fair booth!


Upcoming Events:
Tammy’s Barbecue

Senator Tammy Baldwin’s 12th Annual BBQ is this Sunday! Join me and other supporters in Stoughton to support our great Senator.

It is a ticketed event, to RSVP please click here.

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Madison Pride

There is no longer a Madison Pride parade, but that doesn’t mean community and celebration cannot be had! This Sunday there are multiple Pride events happening around Madison. You can join OutReach’s Magic Festival at Warner Park, learn more here. Or even find a pop-up celebration downtown along State St. here.

No matter how you celebrate, whether at these events or with your friends and loved ones, have a fun, safe weekend!


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