I was pleased to see Puddytat's Tuesday diary about former State Senator Van Waangaard finally conceding his
voter-fraud disinformation media blitz loss to John Lehman in the Wisconsin State Senate recall election over a month ago. Finally, the recall election is over, and the Senate is in Democratic hands! In a sense, this means the end of Fitzwalkerstan, as Lehman will be sworn in on Monday and the balance of power in the Senate swings to the Democrats, knocking Scott "Big Fitz" Fitzgerald out of the position of Senate Minority Leader (while his brother "Little Fitz" Jeff, who has been Speaker of the Assembly, will not be running this fall due to his floundering run for US Senate.)
The election is finally over, so on to the election! Believe it or not, we're barely a month away from the August 14 primaries. This diary grew out of a comment from rosarugosa on Puddytat's diary, requesting a list of worthy Assembly candidates "where the election might be close and a little cash could make a big difference." I'm going to take the opportunity to look a little more generally at the Assembly picture, and then list a few races that fit the criteria, plus a few more that don't but are worthy of support anyway!
Follow me past the cheese curd for more...
So here's how things look from where I stand.
First off, flipping the Assembly would be a Herculanean affair -- and yes, I do think the Augean stables analogy is appropriate! We had a Democratic Assembly in 2008 with the Obama wave, but the majority was Republican for quite a while before that. Right now, the composition is 58R, 1I (caucuses R), 39D. We've also, alas, had an ugly foul secretive GOP-controlled redistricting that will be in force for the coming election.
However, there are some excellent reasons for energy and optimism. First is that we're running something akin to a 50-state strategy here -- looks like this is where Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca funnelled his energy instead of running for Governor in the recall. Out of 99 races, in ONLY TWO of them will a Republican run unchallenged (Districts 58 & 59). Democratic campaigns will be running in nearly every nook and cranny of the state! Compare to 2010, when 13 Republicans ran unopposed. Even more so, compare to the TWENTY-THREE seats that the Republicans are leaving to Democrats unchallenged this year, when they only left 8 unchallenged last time around.
These counts and much more are tallied from the Government Accountability Board official list of candidates for the upcoming election (pdf).
Another reason for optimism is the bench-building work of organizations like Emerge Wisconsin and Wisconsin Progress, fueled this cycle by progressive passion in the face of the Walker/Koch cabal's plutocratic attacks on our state. Emerge Wisconsin is one of 10 state affiliate programs nationwide, dedicated to increasing the number of Democratic women in office. To this end, Emerge Wisconsin recruits, inspires and trains Democratic women to run, from local levels to state and beyond. Wisconsin's program launched in 2007, and claims a 70% success rate among alumnae who have run for office. This year, there are twenty-two Emerge Wisconsin Alumnae running for Assembly (that almost sounds like an Emerge Wisconsin caucus!)
Some of the Emerge Wisconsin alumnae overlap with the candidates supported by
Wisconsin Progress, a state-based recruitment and training organization that focuses on progressive candidates and networking. They were recently written up in a Wisconsin State Journal article: Group gives green political candidates the tools they need to win. ("Green" in this case means "inexperienced"!) Wisconsin Progress is working with 20 Senate and Assembly candidates for the 2012 election, and is considering helping 10 more:
The organization targets districts where it feel Republicans are vulnerable. Wisconsin Progress also won't shy away from forcing primaries, backing candidates it favors against more moderate Democrats. It looks for people in the area who fit their platform, can commit the time needed to get elected and have the intangibles that inspire voters.For more background on the Assembly outlook, I'll refer you to a New Year's Day diary by CentralWIGuy, WI Assembly Election 2012. At that point, of course, we didn't know who the candidates would be, but we did know about the maps, and the diary went into good detail on outlining the lean of the districts. Gpack3 had a nice compact comment with race-ratings as well! CentralWIGuy's summation:
There was a time when few such candidates had the appetite for a full-on campaign, [executive director] Spector said. But one of the side effects of the recent political upheaval is that it created a new generation of activists ready to run for office.
Based on the above, even in the BEST CASE Democratic scenario, and we win everything that is safe and even everything that is in play, we would hold 49 of the 99 seats of the Assembly. Not quite a majority, but close. As the decade progresses, we will have to really work on some of the districts in the Solid/Likely R list that could flip when current legislators retire or resign (including my own in the 86th district). Things look bad, but they are NOT totally out of reach.So, given all that, here are some races to watch, and consider lending your support!
Maureen "Mo" May-Grimm of Mineral Point, challenging freshman GOP-er Howard Marklein of Spring Green for the 51st Assembly seat. Gpack3 rated this district as Lean D. May-Grimm is an Emerge Wisconsin alumna and supported by Wisconsin Progress. Her campaign slogan is "People Before Politics" and the number-one issue listed on her website is campaign finance reform. She will be facing Pat Bomhack of Dodgeville in the August primary.
Maureen May-Grimm's Act Blue Page
Maureen May-Grimm's Campaign Page
Carol Beals of Platteville, challenging incumbent Republican Travis Tramel of Cuba City for the 49th Assembly district. Gpack3 rated this district as Tossup. Beals ran for State Senate in 2010 but was defeated by the most moderate of the WI GOP state senators, Dale Schultz. She is an Emerge Wisconsin alumna and supported by Wisconsin Progress. Beals is unopposed in the primary; the incumbent does have primary opposition.
Carol Beals ActBlue Page
Kelley Albrecht of Burlington, in a valiant battle in the 63rd Assembly district against Republican incumbent Robin Vos, Wisconsin State ALEC chair and party-leader-apparent of the Assembly Republicans. The list of misdeeds to Vos' name is long, but one that particularly rankles with me is his arrogant opposition to lifting the Family Care caps even after the feds ordered it done. The 63rd is Strong R, but Albrecht is undeterred. Her campaign slogan is "Protect the Dream" and the number-one issue listed on her campaign site is investing in good jobs. She is unopposed in the primary.
Kelley Albrecht's Campaign page
Kelley Albrecht's ActBlue page
Diane Odeen of River Falls, challenging Republican incumbent Dean Knudson of Hudson for Assembly District 30. Odeen is an Emerge Wisconsin alumna, and also the wife of DK-er Mike Kahlow! In a comment on the diary that prompted this, Mike said that the district in its current boundaries went for Obama in '08; Gpack & Central WI Guy call the redistricted boundaries strong R though. Odeen says she's running to return Wisconsin to its progressive values: "good schools, strong communities, stewardship of our environment, and a clean and open government – a government that is transparent and easy to participate in, and that helps make sure the rules are applied fairly and everyone has an opportunity to make the most of themselves." She's running unopposed in the primary.
Diane Odeen's campaign page
Diane Odeen's ActBlue page
Mandela Barnes of Milwaukee, challenging Democratic incumbent Jason Fields of Milwuakee in the primary for the 11th Assembly District. This is a two-way Dem primary with no Republican opponent in November. Fields has sided with the GOP on payday loan (de)regulation and on school vouchers, including the ALEC-sourced Special Needs Scholarship Program, and has received campaign contributions from disgraced former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen (R-VoucherLobbyist) and members of the DeVos and Walton families. Barnes, a community organizer, has the endorsement of Wisconsin Progress. His top issue priorities for providing progressive leadership in the 11th district: jobs through local investment, public education, public transportation.
Mandela Barnes' campaign page
Mandela Barnes' ActBlue page
These are but a few of the many worthy races. We won't get to all 97, but be sure to add your recommendations in the comments!