Demz strike at PD

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Stu Levitan
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Demz strike at PD

Postby Stu Levitan » Tue Dec 21, 2004 12:25 pm

Dems strike at Progressive Dane
Full party will vote on exclusion policy
By Judith Davidoff
December 21, 2004

Local Democrats are striking back against perceived slights from Progressive Dane.

The executive board of the Democratic Party has unanimously adopted a policy that would prohibit any of its endorsed candidates from being endorsed by or belonging to another party, confirmed Wayne Bigelow, chair of the Democratic Party of Dane County.

Bigelow acknowledged that the resolution, which will be voted on by the full party at its general meeting Jan. 12, is broadly written but in practice is directed at Progressive Dane, a 12-year-old independent, progressive grass-roots party that endorses candidates in city and Dane County races.

"We're not really interested in working with Progressive Dane anymore," Bigelow said Monday.

He said the proposal is also aimed at the Wisconsin Green Party, a local chapter of the national party that mounted challenges to incumbent Democrats in the Nov. 2 elections.

Ald. Brian Benford, District 12, who is a member of both Progressive Dane and the Democratic Party, said he is appalled by the Democrats' move.

"I find that really disturbing," he said in an interview.

Benford, who rejoined the Democratic Party after he was elected to the City Council in April 2003, said he worked hard to get Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry elected this fall.

"I got at least 100 people to get out and vote who wouldn't have," he said.

Bigelow said the Democratic Party worked with Progressive Dane for years on County Board races with the understanding that neither party would run candidates against each other's incumbents. During that time, the Democrats provided training sessions for Progressive Dane members, he added.

Yet Progressive Dane in the fall election endorsed Green Party candidate Steve Ringwood for county treasurer against incumbent Democrat Dave Gawenda, and Green Party candidate Sally Stix for district attorney against incumbent Democrat Brian Blanchard.

"We found that particularly onerous given that Dave Gawenda, when he was on the County Board, organized training sessions" for Progressive Dane members, Bigelow noted.

Bigelow said his party is also peeved that County Board Supervisor John Hendricks and his Progressive Dane colleagues sabotaged efforts to get County Board Supervisor Scott McDonell elected County Board chair, opening the way for the re-election of Kevin Kesterson and the appointment of a majority of conservatives to the board's land use committee.

Finally, Progressive Dane has recruited a candidate, Christopher Kratochwill, to run against longtime Ald. Ken Golden, District 10, Bigelow said.

Michael Jacob, chair of the elections committee of Progressive Dane, said the Democratic Party proposal sends a bad signal that political parties on the left can't have any disagreements without abandoning all cooperative efforts.

"There is plenty of area for all three parties on the left to work together," said Jacob, who notes he's also a card-carrying Democrat.

Jacob said there was never an unwritten rule that Progressive Dane and the Democrats not run candidates against each other's candidates.

"The unwritten rule is that you don't put your energy into that, but certainly nobody is off limits," he said.

He said Progressive Dane's litmus test for running a candidate against an incumbent is whether the incumbent is serving the district well and whether there is someone else who could serve the district better.

"Ken Golden is failing that test right now," Jacob said.

Jacob said Progressive Dane also thought the Green Party candidates for county treasurer and district attorney had "reasonable concerns" with the incumbents and wanted to be part of the drive to take these concerns to the voters.

"We should be allowed to have reasonable disagreements," he said.

Jacob said Progressive Dane no longer prohibits its candidates from endorsing the opponents of other Progressive Dane-endorsed candidates, as long as the candidate maintains a voting record consistent with the party, participates in party-related activities and actively represents his or her district.

The non-endorsement provision drew criticism a couple of years ago when then Ald. Tom Powell, who was endorsed by Progressive Dane, publicly endorsed Dave Cieslewicz over Bert Zipperer, the Progressive Dane candidate for Madison mayor.

The bottom line, said Jacob, is that such infighting hurts the issues that everyone on the left should care about.

"This is the unsavory side of politics that is the exact wrong direction to head after November, that's for sure," he said. "We all have better things to do."
(end text)

We talked about this with Brenda and Michael on the show last week, and I think we'll continue the conversation this afternoon, 5-7 on 92.1 FM. Trying to get ahold of Wayne. Calls welcome at 321-0921.

ShaneDog
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Postby ShaneDog » Tue Dec 21, 2004 12:29 pm

Wow, how hypocritical of them. It's not like they haven't run candidates against Greens/PD'ers. It's sad to see what the Dane County Democratic Party has turned into over these past few years.

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Postby Bruno » Tue Dec 21, 2004 12:33 pm

The Dems must really be trying hard to live up to the douchebag label that was swirling around them throughout the '04 campaign.

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Postby milk & kisses » Tue Dec 21, 2004 12:45 pm

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

The sheer asshattery of it! At least when PD was doing this kind of shit, they had the "party-building" fig leaf to hide behind. Doesn't really work if you're a big dinosaur of a party.

All this does is alienate people who are members of both parties and raise the stature of PD.

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Postby pulseCzar » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:03 pm

It's like two sisters fighting over who gets to be maid of honor for their other sister. Time to check some bloated egos before you wreck the whole wedding. Meanwhile John Gard is laughing his ass off.

Nice job.

I wonder if I can get a refund on my membership fee.

True Blue
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Postby True Blue » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:14 pm

I guess how you see this depends on where you sit.

Progressive Dane is a political party, just like the Democratic Party. Why should one party be expected to endorse candidates from another party? Especially when the smaller party is running against the larger party.

That really makes no damn sense.

ShaneDog
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Postby ShaneDog » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:16 pm

I can't say I'm surprised at this move. When PD came on the scene, the Dems had two choices, recruit high-quality progressive candidates to run as Dems, or cede the left to the PD candidates and run moderates. For the most part they chose the latter, giving us candidates like Sue Bauman. Unfortunately for them, they picked the wrong strategy. Now that they are becoming increasingly marginalized, they are trying to assert their power but it's looking more and more like they are being sore losers. I wouldn't be surprised if they timed this to coincide with the hatchet job editorial in the WSJ last week ripping PD. Here's what I suggest to patch things up:

Agree to disagree on some things. Agree that those things will not be grounds for getting mad at each other no matter how council members vote on the issue.

Find common ground. Both sides need to figure out what they agree upon and agree to support each other on those issues, even if supporting means voting for something that does not 100% comply with party platform (this is mostly aimed at PD folks who won't support something sponsored by Dems that although weak is a step in the right direction).

The Democrats need to realize that the continuum has shifted to the left in Madison and start running more progressive candidates. They need to stop whining about this and just deal with it.

PD members need to defend and thank Dems who support their issues, even if they didn't get the official PD endorsement. They also need to consider not running candidates against "friendly" Dems.

Dems needs to stop taking money from landlords and other wealthy interests. As Eric Minton showed, money isn't going to help you win elections and being associated with landlords is a huge black eye in Madison. You can still be business/landlord friendly without taking money from them, m'kay?

That's all I could think of for now, but I think its a start.

ShaneDog
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Postby ShaneDog » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:17 pm

True Blue wrote:I guess how you see this depends on where you sit.
Progressive Dane is a political party, just llike the Democratic Party. Why should one party be expected to endorse candidates from another party? Especially when the smaller party is running against the larger party.
That really makes no damn sense.

It's not wrong for them to not endorse specific candidates who are endorsed by PD, it's wrong for them to have an official policy that forbids them from endorsing candidates also endorsed by PD. There's a big difference between those two things.

True Blue
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Postby True Blue » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:19 pm

ShaneDog wrote:Now that they are becoming increasingly marginalized, they are trying to assert their power but it's looking more and more like they are being sore losers.

Your assumptions bear closer inspection as they're not based on the facts. Democrats are hardly marginalized in Madison or Wisconsin.

They are different political parties. One party has no obligation to build the other party. Especially a hostile party. That really seems quite obvious.

ShaneDog
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Postby ShaneDog » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:21 pm

True Blue wrote:
ShaneDog wrote:Now that they are becoming increasingly marginalized, they are trying to assert their power but it's looking more and more like they are being sore losers.

Your assumptions bear closer inspection as they're not based on the facts. Democrats are hardly marginalized in Madison or Wisconsin.

I would argue that they becoming marginalized in Madison, and even in the state legislature where they can't seem to stop something the marriage amendment that have polls showing that a majority of Wisconsinites oppose a marriage amendment that outlaws gay marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships.

True Blue
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Postby True Blue » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:25 pm

ShaneDog wrote:It's not wrong for them to not endorse specific candidates who are endorsed by PD, it's wrong for them to have an official policy that forbids them from endorsing candidates also endorsed by PD. There's a big difference between those two things.


OK, I hear what you're saying. You are saying it is wrong to have such policies. But the distinction is not clear.

The Democratic endorsement brings with it financial and training support to help people run successfully. They choose not to give resources to candidates who are (typically) far more loyal to the PD party than the Dem Party. When those candidates win with Democratic help, PD gets all the credit, the elected then votes with PD, etc yadda yadda. It really does nothing for the Dem party.

Also, the history has been that many PD candidates seek the Dem endorsement simply to deny it to the Dem candidate. They show up at the last minute and join and pack the room, not to be seen again until the next endorsement meeting. Hard not to get cynical about that.

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Postby Michael B Jacob » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:26 pm

True Blue wrote:I guess how you see this depends on where you sit.

Progressive Dane is a political party, just like the Democratic Party. Why should one party be expected to endorse candidates from another party? Especially when the smaller party is running against the larger party.

That really makes no damn sense.


Or...why should affiliation with like-minded, if slightly different, organizations make one unsuitable? PD - and to a lesser extent the Greens - have always welcomed progressive people who also see value in the Dem Party. For that matter PD has encouraged progressive who are strong environmentalists to associate with the Sierra Club, to demonstrate their commitment to working families by pursuing support among organized labor, to show their commitment to their nieghborhoods by being active there and (gasp!) becoming members of their neighborhood association. Multiple affiliations need not be incompatible.

Another question for Dems surfing the forum: how does this policy get implemented, assuming PD and the Greens are not sending along their membership lists to the Dems and Progressive Dane members haven't yet gotten their PD tatoo? A simply stated question to Dem members coming before the Dem Party Exec Committee such as "Are you now or have you ever been a member of Progressive Dane?"

MJ

True Blue
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Postby True Blue » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:27 pm

It bears mentioning that everyone should try to keep a cool head on the discussion and avoid a return to smear politics such as we saw in the past 12 months.

(Come to think of it, what the hell am I doing?)

ShaneDog
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Postby ShaneDog » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:27 pm

True Blue wrote:Also, the history has been that many PD candidates seek the Dem endorsement simply to deny it to the Dem candidate. They show up at the last minute and join and pack the room, not to be seen again until the next endorsement meeting. Hard not to get cynical about that.

Well if that happens, it's a shame. I can see how that would be annoying and disrespectful.

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Postby milk & kisses » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:30 pm

Michael B Jacob wrote:how does this policy get implemented... "Are you now or have you ever been a member of Progressive Dane?"
Yellow star on the overcoat, baby. Old-school.


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