Yesterday we brought you the story of Mike Tate's long overdue and ungraceful eventual exit from the Democratic Party chairmanship. Today Joe Wineke declares his candidacy for the post!
January 16, 2015
Dear Fellow Democrat
I am writing to let you know that I have decided to run again for Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
When I chose not to seek a third term as Chairman in 2009, I left feeling that things in our State were in pretty good shape. During my tenure, we had retaken both Houses' of Legislature, added a 5th Congressional Seat, held the Governor's Office, and had both U.S. Senators.
Six years later, we have lost the Governor's Office, one of our Senate Seats, and both Houses' of Legislature. We can...and must...do better.
I am not running for Chair to point fingers at others. I am running because I truly believe we have an opportunity to lead an effort that will create positive change for the people of Wisconsin, beginning right now.
First...let's quit playing defense all the time.
The public agrees with us on the issues, but we are constantly letting Republicans define the message, and by definition, defining us. We do that by playing offense.
Second...we do that through messaging.
Message matters. We need to create an "Opportunity Agenda" based on putting people first. Our "Opportunity Agenda" will be based on economic, educational, and equal opportunity for all. In musical terms, we must create a symphonic message based on these themes. Variations to our symphonic theme will be based on:
· Economic Security: People know they are falling behind. We, as Democrats, have not given enough people the belief that we will help them succeed. Supporting the working class is paramount to their security. Better wages, reducing student loan debt, support for the right to collectively bargain, making housing more affordable and attainable need to be key to that effort.
· Educational Opportunity: Democrats need to stand behind public schools. Let the Republicans side with the rich and powerful on this issue. We need to remind people that public dollars should go to public schools...period. Rural schools in Wisconsin have reached a crisis point. If we quit playing on the edges and show the public whose side we are on, we can win this issue. We are currently losing it. I believe that the Democratic Party renaissance will begin in rural Wisconsin and the issue is education.
· Equal Opportunity: Political parties must stand powerfully behind core issues. Equal opportunity for all, whether one is straight, gay, black, white, Native American, or anything else must be defined by Democrats. Republicans have been allowed to pander to prejudice for too long. Let it define them and define us.
If handled properly, the core issues of the "Opportunity Agenda" will rise to a message crescendo that will help lead us to victory in 2016 and beyond. Of course, there will be other issues that will matter in our fight to reclaim Wisconsin, but it is far better to stick to a handful of powerful issues than to get bogged down in a hundred battles at once.
Third...we need to rebuild our Party from the bottom up.
Neither a "top down" Party, nor a "top down" message, resonates with average people. We need to create a better message, more effectively using modern communication mediums on social media, like Facebook and Twitter. I propose the creation of a Social Media Advisory Council within the Party to create a daily message based on our "Opportunity Agenda".
Fourth...there is an old saying that states, "You can't beat somebody, with nobody".
When I was Chair, we fielded a variety of candidates in every legislative and local race we could, not just competing in the "so called" competitive seats. Not to mention, we were pretty darn successful in doing it, filling the vast majority of seats for the Assembly and Senate. In 2014, we left 31 of 60 Assembly Republicans off with "free rides". If I am elected Chair, those days are over. We won't win a lot of those seats, but we might just steal a few. In addition, it is a smart way to build a local party base that will likely increase our percentages in GOP counties enough to get a few more percentage points at the top of the ticket.
2016 has the potential to be a very good year for Democrats in Wisconsin. Republican control in Washington and Madison will expose the stark difference between the two parties. We can win Wisconsin in the Presidential election and retake the Senate seat Ron Johnson currently holds. We can also gain seats in the Legislature and add seats in city, county, and school board elections.
I want to lead that effort. I strongly believe that if we follow the plan I have laid out in this letter, we can become a majority party again....and I will put my money where my mouth is...if we don't add seats to what we already hold electorally, I will not seek re-election as Chair. Promises that are made, must be kept. I will do just that.
I intend to be a full-time chair if elected in June, 2015. I will run an aggressive campaign aimed at meeting as many of you as I can during the course of the next six months. I ask for your support and guidance. I have been around politics long enough to know that I don't have all the answers, and will make some mistakes. We all do. But, I will work as hard as I can to make a better and stronger Democratic Party in this State.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, don't hesitate to contact me.