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Uppity Wisconsin - Progressive Webmasters

« Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Ziegler's Republican Roots Are Showing Despite Graul's Dye Job | Main | Blacks in Wisconsin Prisons »

January 15, 2007


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What alternative universe do you live in? The only PD member who is not a Democrat is Konkel. I have never viewed PD as political party anyway, more as a League of Women Voters with a platform.

A PD endorsement has never been to distinguish a PD from a Democratic candidate, but a progressive from regressive candidate irregardless of party. It was only recently that the Dem party made a rule those with a PD endorsed candidate could not seek the Dem endorsement.

Its like this, there is no way in hell that a Dem will get my vote without a PD endorsement. Its kind of like a progressive seal of approval.

Austin King

Paul, you couldn't have gotten this more wrong. I've been a member of the Democratic Party for many, many years, and have a better attendance at Democratic Party of Dane County meetings than any other member of the Council, by a longshot. That's not just trivia either - I know the members, have worked with them on numerous joint efforts, and have generally built a certain level of rapport and trust.

All sides seeking endorsements worked to get their supporters there. Zach Brandon was even on Vicki McKenna's show encouraging her listeners to come to the meeting. Of the 200 people in the room, I would wager that fewer than 30 were also members of Progressive Dane (and there is a lot of overlap between the memberships). In any case, yes, I worked to get supporters to the meeting, but so did Wayne Bigelow, Tim Sullivan, Zach Brandon, and people with whom I disagreed on endorsements. Other people that agreed with me also worked to get their supporters there, as you know.

As for Lauren Cnare, wow. "Rabid attack"? Paul, you weren't there, obviously. I pointed out that she was a nice woman, to whom I wrote a $50 check in 2005, but who has been a consistent disappointment on the issues. She voted against the budget, voted against childcare tuition assistance, voted against Metro, agreed to sponsor the return of the racist loitering ordinance, and voted against paid sick days. Most recently, she was one of just THREE alders to vote against the Justice for Patty resolution (joining Thomas and Compton). Her conservative credentials are pretty-well established at this point. I didn't even mention that she ran against me for Council President, and haven't thought about that in a long time (for the record, I asked her to serve as Council Pro Tem, even after she ran against me, and she declined). This was about accountability to Democratic values from people who take the party's endorsement and resources - and I don't do nearly as good a job defining those values as, say, the adopted platform, which addressed many of the issues raised above.

And I don't mean to be snip, but what "real solutions" has Lauren Cnare proposed to combat poverty? She hasn't sponsored a single ordinance or resolution that I'm aware of, and she voted against the bus system, childcare, and plenty of other line items in the budget that I think most people would agree are essential to alleviating poverty and enabling low-income people to work. You might disagree with my efforts, but I've sponsored and fought for an increase in the minimum wage, paid sick days for low-income workers, and housing policies to create low-income housing like the affordable housing trust fund.

Can you back up any of these claims you're making? I've got roll-call votes. Is an honest discussion of someone's voting record a "rabid attack"?

Lauren Cnare, Zach Brandon, and many of the other folks that the membership overwhelmingly rejected last week (2/3rds of the room is needed, and in many cases didn't even muster one-third; even if not a single PD member or any friend of mine showed up, they would've lost the endorsement) are good people, but they have consistently and blatantly rejected basic Democratic Party values as embodied in the platform. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the membership saw fit to expect better.


Many if not most of the people turned out to the meeting on the "progressive" side of things last Wednesday were already members of the Dane Dems or had been in the past - as importantly, many if not most of these people have been active Democrats on local, state, and national elections. Not exactly a coup or takeover attempt. Unmentioned in any coverage (didn't see you there Paul :)) was that the people who spoke up, including Austin, for the progressives were all longtime Dane Dems members who are regular attendees to the membership meeting and are active in the goings-ons of the county party. Austin King may have spoke the most, but he was not the only leader of the party behind this all.

The unreported story is that the regressives had their turnout machine in operation too. Capitol staffers, former Common Sense Coalition ED Mike Quigley (WTF?), and the old guard establishment types were there to try to block things. Far from being a 50-50 meeting, the issue there was that endorsements take a 2/3 supermajority, not a simple majority. Overwhelmingly, the rank-and-file members voted for progressives, just as they always do, in the 60%+ range. Only the presence of the regressives stopped things. It's not like the progressive turnout put things over the 50%+1 majority.

Claiming that this is an ethical or moral failure by PD is total hogwash. First off, PD has nothing to do with this, except in the sense of the relationship of the party "leadership" of the Dane Dems to PD; not the least of which is their almost pathological, definitely knee-jerk reactionism to anything PD. Second of all, organizing people and activating them around candidates and issues (something the Dane Dems have not done particularly well in the past few years) is exactly the kind of thing the new blood in our party want to see. We the rank and file made this happen, and PD had nothing to do with is. In fact, the candidates in question for endorsements (Vicky Selkowe, Satya Rhodes-Conway) have been active, present Democrats (their opponents sure have not been, when it comes to party activity). Further, those candidates in question of not being endorsed (Cnare, Thiel, Palm, Brandon) have hardly represented and advocated Democratic values, even in some of the loosest representation. Some better than others, but certainly not at or above the point of what the rank and file think is worthy of their endorsement, backing, institutional support, and money.


I thought City Council elections were supposed to nonpartisan. What happened to meeting your neighbors, shaking hands, and talking about potholes and property taxes? I hope most Council candidates aren't worrying about whether they're good progressives or good Democrats, and instead are simply working on being good citizens and good neighbors.


Talking about potholes and property taxes over potluck dinners might be part of council races in Madison, but that's not the only thing. It might work in Verona, but Madison is a big city that is addressing some issues that go beyond that.

Potholes/public services = necessary but sufficient for an alder/mayor

Ideology and politics will creep in - and to me that's a good thing. When "bigger" issues come up, people make decisions and sort things out using their worldviews and politics. We should know what those are ahead of time and hold people accountable, based upon the city we want to have.


Sorry, that should have said:

:potholes/public servies = necessary but NOT sufficient for an alder/mayor


I know you can't (and shouldn't) keep ideology out of local elections. I just hate to see ideological bickering and grudges between people who actually agree on most issues. And I hate litmus tests: someone votes the "wrong" way a few times and gets treated like a pariah. Politicians need to be able to work with people they disagree with, whether they're in the US Senate or the Madison Common Council.


CHarlie up there is right - ther is far too much encroachment of partisan politics on "non-partisan" races. I know of a candidate who chose NOT to show overt party affiliation (Dem) when running for a race of this type. The party got pissed and got actively behind someone who would sing its glories while campaigning for the board. Mr. Independent got his butt kicked. So did the concepts of Democracy, reasonably level playing fields and maximum participation.

Isn't it also true that a meeting was packed a while ago by Wineke supporters to help block some reform effort or other and maintain current power structures within the party in spite of rumblings of unrest among many members?

When I was young I perceived that Democratic party as the "Party of the People", the Republicans were the "Party of Business and the Military". Now I am forced to conclude (against what I would intensely prefer) that the Republicans are not The "Party of Business, and the Military, AND Religious Extremists". And the Democratic party is the "Party Of, By and For It's Own Self"

Narcisissitic self-preservation seems to be the sole activity anymore. Getting and keeping power, whith which very little is done, is the real goal. Power for Power's Sake.

Greens and Independents who openly admit to voting Democratic much of the time are publicly ridiculed when common sense tells us that it is moronic to do anything but court those people's goodwill and continued voting support. The only reason that you would marginalize them, or Democrats who also are Progressive Dane members is because they, their involvment, threaten existing power structure within the party.

I'm confused, I really am. You know that sequence in Disney's Alice In Wonderland where the little creature has a broom nose and it sweeps up the trail of it's own footprints? Alice looks behind her and she cannot see anymore the path they took to get where they are?
Why do I keep thinking of that now? WTF.


I meant "Republicans are NOW the party of..." the word "not' is incorrect. I'm wearing my wrist guard, not drinkin' :)


You can draw some conclusions on the Democratic Party, but it's not particularly useful to you to look at one instance. One point I have made about our local party is that we SHOULD be a model party because of the atmosphere in which we operate. We have the ability to do ideologically pretty much what we want - this is Madison and all. But ideology isn't the whole picture. Process is the biggest failing in Dane County Dem politics, and that leads to failures in policy.

Right now, the establishment amongst the leadership exercises some of the perogatives of leadership in a way that baffles me - keeping out the reformers, expecting no democratic process and challenges to incumbents, etc.

It is the reformers, who in this past Wednesday's meeting aligned with the "PD faction" (if you can call it that), as there is a lot of cross-membership there, who are pushing for more democratic inclusion, who do not push litmus tests but instead "value" tests (again, if you can call it that) and "process" tests (e.g. don't reinforce right-wing talking points).

The reformers, who were, yes, once ambushed by Joe Wineke (he of the establishment bent) at a Democracy for Wisconsin meeting on a matter of endorsing for state party chair, want an open party that is indeed that "of the people" on policy, process, and politics. Insider control and factionalism serves not the Democratic Party nor those of us who care deeply about its enduring success.

Again, let me stress that most of this is about PROCESS not politics/policy. The conservative-moderate (whatever the hell you want to call them) faction is maligned partly because they do not represent Democratic values (and set up foils on the left), and partly because they and establishment leadership freak when someone wants to challenge them on process (e.g. challenge a sitting elected who was once Dem-endorsed).

No one is pushing anyone out of the party for ideology. Sorry if it came across that way from anyone.

Actual Lauren

Just to sum it up, as a newly labeled "Bad Democrat" here's what I've been doing - to help regular folk and those living in poverty. Secured funding for the old WTA program when no one else wanted to touch it, secured the dollars for the very successful Madison Apprenticeship Program, steered residents to housing programs managed through the city, found housing for a resident burned out of her home, protected public health with the smoking ban after countless conversations with residents of a conflicted district, assured that residents in a particular neighborhood had the opportunity to learn about new neighbors from different parts of the world, worked through a neighborhood plan that will enrich a changing place, voted yes for every Allied Drive proposal to date, pounded the pavement and made phone calls for Democratic candidates and supported the school referendum, pointed out the blatant unfairness of city dollars spent on planning councils, supported the public pool even though it's unlikely any third district residents will ever use it, brokered consensus deals on park no mow areas, co-sponsored the Plan B ordinance, supported home loans for undocumented immigrants because everyone deserves an opportunity in America, defended a neighborhood's right to have a voice in a development proposal, made phone calls for Fair Wisconsin, drove residents to meetings with city officials, and faithfully represented the voice and views of residents of the third district, yes, against King's Patty and sick leave efforts.

I've always held that being a Democrat is about raising the voice of the people - all people. Being a Democrat is about tolerance. Being a Democrat is about the open and civil discussion. It's a very simple and proven role for elected officials. I'll continue to do these things, just flying under my own flag. Or, just being a bad Democrat.


I would like to point out that the vote against Zach Brandon's endorsement was a landslide. I'd also like to note that while Austin got the ball rolling against Zach, there were at least two other speakers that I thought were more effective. The recounting of Zach's visit to the Vicki Mckenna show drew a bit of shocked silence. Furthermore, no one spoke in favor of Zach Brandon. I mean, people spoke in favor of Cnare and I doubt she made an effort to turn anyone out...people spoke on behalf of every candidate except for Zach Brandon. This should tell you something about who's out of touch.

Oh yeah, this was not an organized effort by Progressive Dane. In fact, the PD steering committee had a meeting at the same time as the Dem meeting. So to act as if their was an organized effort by PD to stack the meeting is either a misunderstanding or a tremendous oversimplification of the situation and local poltics.

Russell Wallace

Paul, I'm rather surprised by your post, but it fits with a rather interesting pattern I've noticed. Former, current, and future (so they think) elected officials who are not associated with the reformists/insurgents/troublemakers/infiltrators (interesting choice of word you made there, BTW) tend to be very threatened by this movement, regardless of their own history or ideology. My take is that there was more than a bit of "There but for the grace of God go I" feeling stirred up when Zach and Lauren got shot down. It may not even be a conscious thing, but it's strong enough to push people to places where you'd never expect to see them otherwise.

I'm working on a post about this phenomena for my blog. I'd appreciate if you'd give it some serious thought and reply with a comment. Maybe I'm just full of crap, but maybe I'm not.

Russell Wallace

I should also mention that the thing that pissed me off most about Zach wasn't his votes, or even his playing footsie with Vicky McKenna, but the fact that he endorsed Jed Sanborn against a Dem (OK, she was a PD/Dem, but she had our endorsement) in my district last cycle.

The big tent can only be so big.

Ben Masel

Honest question... Why does the County Party decide endorsements for City races, and not just a City subset?


Clarification on this I wrote earlier:

"In fact, the candidates in question for endorsements (Vicky Selkowe, Satya Rhodes-Conway) have been active, present Democrats (their opponents sure have not been, when it comes to party activity)."

I spoke too quickly. I knew better and I want to correct it. Satya's opponent, Mike Basford has been an active Democrat. My bad for sure. Thankfully, Mike is actually the one that caught it and pointed it out to me.

once was a PD'er

I used to be ignorant of PD's demand for total allegiance and hypocritical endorsement behavior for a while, but not after what happened with a previous alder who was a PD member, Tom Powell. I couldn't come up with a link that provides the facts about what happened, but I think Ald. Powell endorsed someone who was running against a PD endorsed candidate, and was kicked out of PD for it. I can't support political organizations that do not allow independent thought and choice amongst their membership. PD lost a lot of credibility and at least 2 members with that action.

Russell Wallace

Hey Once, political parties aren't charities that exist to be nice to people. They're mutual aid societies built (usually) on an ideological base, and therefore endorsements come with the quite reasonable expectation that you're not going to work against the interests of the party.

If I stop and pull you out of a car wreck, but you immediately turn around and steal my car, I might not be quite so quick to rescue you next time. It's not about freedom of thought and choice, it's about the fact that I helped you and you returned the favor by screwing me.

Like it or not, politics is a Darwinian process. Parties that don't look out for number one don't succeed for long. The issue is complicated by the fact that parties are not static organizations, but continuously evolve and change. Nonetheless, it's naive to think that parties shouldn't try to reward behavior that helps them, and punish behavior that doesn't.


I remember that happening to Tom Powell, "once a PDer." I believe he endorsed Mayor Dave in the last election and so was kicked out of PD. He was upset and dropped out of politics, which was a shame because he was a very good representative, both as an alder and a county board member. And my opinion of PD dropped because of it. I have never heard of either the Dems or the GOP doing that sort of thing.


Powell didn't drop out of politics because of PD's treatment of him. There were other reasons, all of which have been reported in the media.

Dennis Shook

Dear Paul: We have talked a couple of times over the years during my other gigs at the kenosha News and Waukesha freeman. i am now with the Shepherd Express in Milwaukee and I am doing a story about what Milwaukeeans can expect now that Vicki McKenna will be on local radio. Could you send me an e-mail with your number and a good time toca ll so we can talk? Thanks, Dennis Shook(1-414-276-2222, ext. 214).

kristopher irizarry-hoeksema

I am sorry I saw this years later. Austin King is such a fraud, glad Soglin called him out.

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