Monday, March 26, 2012

Doug La Follette Will Announce Candidacy for Governor Wednesday Morning

I attended Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette's "People's Input Session" this Saturday at the Capitol in front of Lady Forward, where he told us that he plans to announce his candidacy for governor Wednesday morning at 10am next to the Wisconsin Constitution on the second floor of the Capitol Rotunda. After listening to La Follette and much thought and research, I believe La Follette is the only Democrat that will run who can beat Scott Walker on June 5 and then make the most progress moving Wisconsin forward.

This election is not a slam dunk by any means, maybe if Feingold was running, but that's not going to happen. Everyone else is in a statistical dead-heat with Walker in the latest polls. So we have to pick wisely, and we'll have less than a month after the May 8 primary to convince Wisconsin voters to elect our choice. It's my belief that there are three keys to this election and subsequent execution in office: independents, divisiveness and fundraising, and it's these keys that lead me to believe Doug La Follette is our wisest choice.

Independents are definitely the critical key to this election. The candidate voted for by the majority of independents will win the recall election. Democrats and Republicans are both pretty much locked in and fired up, and with the state pretty much split down the middle, convincing independents to elect a Democrat is the surest way to victory in June.

To understand the second key, divisiveness or unity, it helps to take a step back and think about why over a million people signed a petition to recall Walker and the millions of Wisconsinites who are just not happy with the way things have been done in Wisconsin recently. There are a lot of specific issues: collective bargaining rights, education, gerrymandering, environmental protections, voter suppression, etc. However, most if not all of these issues wouldn't exist if the far-right no-compromise Walker had insisted that legislation be drafted and passed openly and democratically. Many of the issues, such as collective bargaining rights, would have never passed under the light of day or after reasoned debate.

The problem is deeper than just the issues, it's the divisiveness that created those issues. The root of the problem is the way things are being done in Wisconsin since Walker took office, and we can't fix Wisconsin until we fix the way things are done.

A large majority of Wisconsinites can agree with that whether they're Democrat, Republican or independent, although some extremist Republicans "stand with Walker." We'll never convince them to vote Democrat, but we can convince a large share of the reasonable people in Wisconsin by offering a significant change in the way things are done. We need to choose a candidate who can convince Wisconsinites that he/she will insist that everyone work with each other in the open to find the best solutions to our problems without letting special interests get an unfair voice.

Independents will love this. That's what they want. Someone who will listen to everyone to find the best solutions to our problems. The essence of being independent. Independents are especially sick of the divisiveness in Wisconsin. They just want to go back to the relatively calm and quiet Wisconsin that doesn't include political attack ads every time they turn on the TV. We can give independents what they want.

Democrats and progressives will love this, because the majority of progressive positions are supported by reason and science. So, any legislation that is crafted will inherently be progressive, and it will be passable. Therefore, a lot more can actually get done. Of course, not everything will necessarily be exactly perfect, but we'll get the lion's share of what we want, if not more. This is our "platform."

Some Republicans will at least favor this over Walker. There are many Republicans who can be heard or who have been quoted saying something like they may agree with Walker's policies, but they don't agree with how he makes it happen. If some Republicans vote for the Democrat candidate, we will have a very good chance of winning. However, the better reason is that the less these types of Republicans fear the Democrat candidate, the less motivated they'll be to turn out and vote for Walker. We can easily tip the scales with a less divisive and more independent candidate.

Now, I'm sure a lot of Democrats and progressives are thinking, but I'm really ticked off, and there's a lot of other people like me. With everyone so fired up, and so much damage done by Walker, why shouldn't we pick the most liberal candidate possible? Independents. The answer goes back to the first key, we can't win without them, and we won't get their support if they think they're going to get the same thing from both parties. They'll stay at home, and we're left with a flip of a coin. The closer they see our candidate to Walker's divisiveness, the less interest they'll have.

Take your motivation and turn a coin flip into a sure thing. Walker and his Super PACs will be flooding the airwaves with "Stand With Walker" brainwashing. Voters will need to be convinced to vote against Walker by a real person talking to them, particularly face-to-face. If we focus our energy on convincing independents to vote for our candidate like we did collecting recall signatures, we can easily beat Walker. But all of that energy will be for nothing if we're not offering a significant change.

The third key is in part due to the Citizens United ruling, but it's also critical to the first two keys. We need someone who isn't going to get caught in the same funding mess that Walker is in, whether it's corporations or unions. Someone who has taken money from special interests during their campaign will be perceived as giving those interests an unfair voice, whether they actually do or not. It only makes sense, because there's no other logical reason for a special interest to contribute to the efforts of a campaign. Their members already have the right to personally contribute. Any additional contribution by those members through the special interest group can only be seen as a desire to get an unfair advantage in the election or subsequent decisions in office. The only way to effectively convince voters that a candidate isn't accountable to any special interests is to refuse money from special interests, and this is key to motivating independents to vote in the recall for our candidate.

Walker already has over $12 million in his pocket for the recall, and that's without the now Citizens United-powered Super PACS. No Democrat will be able to come close to matching Walker's arsenal. So, there's no point in even trying to compete financially. Instead, the Democrat candidate should focus their energy on fundraising from regular people and refuse money from corporations and special interests. The little extra bit of ads, many times not inline with the supported campaign, that we'd get aren't worth the trouble, negative perception, and lack of focus on the people of Wisconsin. A Democrat candidate can likely raise far more funds this way than by cozying up to any special interests - and that's Feingold's argument.

We can't afford to support a candidate who is beholden to special interests.

Less divisiveness, more openness, more knowledgeable input, and no special interests, focused on education, jobs, health and the outdoors. This is the platform that we must run on to win, and we must select the candidate that can best deliver and execute the message. It's the surest chance we have of beating Scott Walker, and it will also be the surest chance we have of moving Wisconsin forward again as quickly as possible.

A less divisive candidate who is not beholden to any special interest group will be the most effective progressive governor possible in the environment we're in. Remember, governors don't write legislation, they set the tone. The governor can insist that legislation is drafted and debated in an open and thoughtful manner, and such a governor would. We may not always get everything we want, but we won't get anything we strongly dislike, and we'll get needed legislation passed. This is the Wisconsin way.

A less divisive candidate will inherently work across party lines more and be more accepted by the other side. Such a governor will actually be able to get the two parties to work together, because they'll see that noone is being shoved aside. A new atmosphere of working together to solve our problems will fill Wisconsin. That doesn't mean one party won't refuse to work with the other, it'll be our job to hold them accountable. If a majority of Wisconsin elects a governor with the desire to work together, anyone refusing to work together will openly defying the will of the people of Wisconsin. Such a governor will make the Republicans' current position of no-compromise very difficult.

Unfortunately, our "inevitable candidate" is someone who will have a very difficult time pulling this off, Kathleen Falk. Soon after the signatures were turned in, Falk jumped to become the first candidate in the recall against Walker. Falk quickly sought and received endorsements from unions before any other candidate had announced, before an election was even set, before the signatures were even looked at by the GAB, for any chance to disuade any other Democrat from running. Then, on the day that the only other candidate currently, Kathleen Vinehout, planned to announce her candidacy, Falk announced that she signed a pledge with unions to veto any budget that didn't restore collective bargaining rights. Falk's announcement overshadowed Vinehout's as intended. The pledge also solidified the image that Falk is "in bed with the unions," it wasn't necessary, and could likely be broken by Falk in order to fulfill her legal duty as governor if elected.

Now, Falk is mired in controversy with a union Super PAC that supports her. I don't know how Falk passes as a less divisive candidate who's not beholden to any special interests. I don't know how we can sell Falk to independents other than the anti-Walker candidate. You tell me, please.

For these reasons, I can't support her, and we can't support her, unless we want the election to be no different than the flip of a coin. Falk won't cut it. If she doesn't make another critical mistake before the election, we'll be biting our nails right up to the last moment. If she does, she'll have an even bigger hole to climb out of in a very short period of time. If I had to make a bet, I'd bet Falk loses to Walker. I don't like that, especially since she's the "inevitable" candidate, but I can't envision a scenario where Falk attracts more people to vote than Walker's arsenal of brainwashing. Outside of Madison, it can be pretty brutal.

I like Kathleen Vinehout, although I must admit I don't know a lot about her. She might be a good candidate on paper. But, she has a lot of ground to make up on Falk, and she just doesn't have the time to do it. If we're going to find someone who can beat Falk, we need to look elsewhere, and we need to look fast.

However, it doesn't take long to see that Doug La Follette would be a great candidate and governor at this pivotal moment in Wisconsin. One can easily tell from listening to La Follette that he is genuinely an independent thinker. He's also equipped with the intellect and experience required to sift and winnow complex issues. One of La Follette's primary assets that he's campaigning on is his desire and ability to make decisions and policies independently based on sound reasoning for the benefit of the people of Wisconsin. La Follette wants to bring back the Wisconsin Idea, which is exactly that, using Wisconsin's resources to find the best solutions to our problems in an open manner, instead of the far-right cookie-cutter legislation that's been passed since Walker took office.

La Follette can and does attract independents with his message, and he's been elected to Secretary of State consecutively since 1982. So, he has a statewide base of support, and he has a lot of experience campaigning statewide. La Follette modernized the Secretary of State and has fought hard against both Democrats and Republicans to keep the constitutionally defined office in tact. In fact, La Follette would restore the powers that have been taken away, reducing the power of the governor back to what the Wisconsin Constitution conceived. That's just one example of his independence, and I believe La Follette makes the strongest case for a candidate that can attract independents without selling progressives short.

La Follette doesn't accept money from corporations or special interests. So, he's a clear winner on the third key.

La Follette is our ticket to beating Walker in June and moving Wisconsin forward. He's a true grassroots and "peoples" candidate with the capability to heal Wisconsin by focusing on the things that Wisconsinites value most: education, jobs, health, and the outdoors; and doing it through reason and discussion not party politics.

I really don't think any other Democrat is going to jump in the race at this point, and the sooner we start supporting a viable candidate the better. Herb Kohl isn't going to, otherwise La Follette said he wouldn't run. Tom Barrett probably isn't going to jump in now. If he waited this long, it was only so that he could ensure he'd still have a job as mayor after the election April 3. And that doesn't make me feel too confident about his motivation or chances. There's a lot of Internet buzz asking Peter Barca to run, but he's not even on most people's radar. I just don't think there's enough time for him to convince voters, and I believe that's why he won't get in. Blame Falk for stepping in so early and causing everyone else to back off.

La Follette really needs your help to spread the word as early as possible.  So I encourage you to learn more about him at your earliest convenience, and if you think he's a better candidate than Falk, spread the word before it's too late.

A lot of people on the left are fired up, but a lot of people on the right are fired up, and a lot of independents could care less. We need to convince independents to come out and vote against Walker. A divisive or extreme liberal, particularly a "Madison liberal," will not excite the independents, who want calm and progress, not more party politics - from a different party or not.

By tapping into this feeling, we can beat Walker in a landslide. Given a choice between a far-right no-compromise Walker and a candidate like Doug La Follette, I believe Wisconsin will overwhelmingly choose La Follette.

You can read more about our Secretary of State Doug La Follette on his website and Meet the Walker Recall Candidates: Doug La Follette by Dane101. There is also a recent WisEye interview that really gives you a sense of the candidate and what he stands for.

La Follette plans to distribute nomination papers on Friday to begin collecting 3,000 signatures to get his name on the ballot. We'll only have a few days to collect enough signatures, so everyone's help is greatly appreciated. Email Doug at if you can collect some names, and he'll email you papers on Friday.

La Follette doesn't take money from corporations or special interest groups so your support in this effort is all the more essential, and as always, he greatly appreciates it. If you'd like to contribute to his campaign, you can donate online at ActBlue or send donations to 1211 Rutledge #3, Madison, WI 53703.

Update: (March 28, 7:38PM) Doug La Follette announced his candidacy this morning. Read this post to see what he said and what Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate said about La Follette, that is Scott Walker could learn a lot from La Follette.

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