Emerge Wisconsin recently learned they were the subject of an open records request by the Republican Party of Wisconsin. The request appeared to be targeting the Emerge Wisconsin Alumnae. There are currently eight Emerge women who are serving in the state legislature: Representatives Penny Bernard Schaber‘07, Jill Billings‘11, Dianne Hesselbein‘09, La Tonya Johnson‘12, Melissa Sargent‘12, Mandy Wright‘12, JoCasta Zamarripa’10, and Senator Nikiya Harris‘11.
“It is interesting that the GOP are targeting Emerge Wisconsin, an organization focused on training Democratic women to run for office,” states Wendy Strout, Emerge Wisconsin Executive Director. “Since they have a history of attacking women’s rights, it was only a matter of time before they started attacking women’s ability to run for office.
Emerge Wisconsin recently graduated their seventh class of Democratic women ready to run for elected office. The goal of Emerge is to increase the number of Democratic women in office. They do this by inspiring women to run and honing their skills to win. Emerge is also traveling the state providing a “Taste” of their trainings in counties like Brown, Door, and St. Croix.
Since 2007, Emerge has been the premier training program for Democratic women in Wisconsin. Emerge recruits and trains women from across the state to run for office on a local, state, and national level and provides them with the tools and network support needed to succeed in the world of politics. Emerge graduates have gone on to win races ranging from Village Trustee to State Senate. Nationally, Emerge has expanded to thirteen states to train the next generation of female Democratic leaders across the country. Emerge is located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Virginia and WisconsinThis attack by WISGOP was undoubtedly spurred by this article touting the success of Emerge Wisconsin in getting women elected:
“In many ways running a campaign is like starting a small business,” Wright said. “Emerge really helped me organize the campaign. You have to be pretty motived, and Emerge really helped me with that. The networking is also helpful. There were 30 of us in class and 10 that ran for Assembly or Senate, so we kept in touch. It was really, really helpful to hear, ‘I ran into this problem and this is how I problem-solved it’.”The reporter, as any good reporter would do, contacted WISGOP to get a statement from them. As one might expect, it showed just how out of touch they are with women and women's issues:
“We have women all across the state in all levels of office,” said Wendy Strout, executive director of Emerge Wisconsin.
The Emerge program began in California and now is one of 13 states with Emerge programs. Emerge Wisconsin has been in operation since 2007. Since then 56 percent of the graduates have run for public office and 59 percent have run successful campaigns.
“Women across the country are not happy with what’s going on. They are looking for a way to make a change. So you’re going to see women across the country getting more active,” Strout said. “Our goal is to continue increasing the number of Democratic women at all levels of government. We are nowhere near 50 percent of elected officials, yet women are 50 percent of the population, or 51 percent of the population in some places.”
Of course, Republicans also want to provide more opportunities for female candidates. Jesse Dougherty, press secretary of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefish is leading the charge to bring more Republican women into public office.Obviously, what woman wouldn't want to be involved with a party who wants to keep their pay substantially lower than men's and wants to have a doctor sexually assault them with a ultrasound wand? The only things that the Republicans haven't done - yet - is pass a law that women must remain pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen.
“We are holding training sessions across the state and women are a major aspect of that training,” Dougherty said. “Women will have a strong voice in our party.”
But as they say, haters are going to hate. And there is not a more hateful group than the Teapublicans and one of the things they hate most are strong women who will stand up for themselves.
For the purpose of full disclosure, I do work for Emerge Wisconsin and am damn proud of it. However, this post is not to be in any construed as anything but coming from me.