Getting ready: Training opportunities for Democrats

North Central Wisconsin Regional Training

Saturday, September 21st
9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Eau Claire Democrat Resource Center
440 Broadway Street
Eau Claire, WI

Join Democratic volunteers and activists from across Northwest Wisconsin to help plan our grassroots movement and build our organizing teams.

This event is open to anyone who is passionate about strengthening the progressive fabric of Wisconsin, regardless of volunteer experience.

Register now >>

National Democratic Training Committee Blue Bench Training and Environmental Caucus Meeting

Saturday, September 28th
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center
1001 Amber Avenue
Stevens Point, WI

This “Blue Bench Training” is being conducted by the National Democratic Training Committee and will cover all aspects of strengthening local Party infrastructure, including:

  • How to create a message
  • How to grow the organization
  • Candidate/campaign training for potential candidates, campaign staff, and volunteers

Participants will be able to gain additional tools that can be used to provide support with several departments, including communications, digital, field, and fundraising.

For any questions, contact DPW Training and Development Arkesia Jackson at

Register now >>

Organizing for Effective Advocacy—A Conference

Saturday, October 19th
9:00 AM – 2:30 PM
Unitarian Universalist Society of River Falls
N8010 US Highway 65
River Falls, WI

This conference will empower first-time and longtime Democratic organizers to effect political change in our community, state, and country.

Speakers will include:

  • John Calabrese, former candidate for state district 29 representative, presenting “The duty of a citizen to keep money and politics separate”
  • Dr. Grace Coggio, Communication Studies Director at UW-River Falls, and Krista Cleary, CNM, presenting a workshop on civil conversations and effectively engaging with people who hold different viewpoints
  • Analiese Eicher, executive director of One Wisconsin Institute/One Wisconsin Now, presenting Tools for Effective Advocacy
  • Doug Kane, author of the new book of essays, Our Politics, and husband of former State Senator Kathleen Vinehout speaking about organizing effectively for change
  • Juliet Tomkins sharing an update on local grassroots organizing
  • Maureen Ash closing the conference

Registration begins at 9:00 am; the conference kicks-off at 9:30. Lunch will be provided for purchase from Miller Rogers for $7.

For more information, contact Maureen Ash at

Toxic Tom Tiffany

What do you call a state Senator who’s a shill for mining and chemical companies?

Toxic Tom.
The infamously unelectable Toxic Tom Tiffany announced his bid for the 7th congressional district this week, and we made sure everyone knew just how wrong he is for Wisconsin.

We launched and accompanying digital ads to highlight his record of writing legislation for polluters, slashing health care for seniors, and raising taxes on the middle-class to give wealthy corporations huge tax breaks.
We know Republicans love gerrymandering, but it’s hard to gerrymander your way out of a record like that. They couldn’t find a candidate more unelectable if they tried.

The special election for this seat (the date of which will be announced later this month) is going to be an uphill battle. But with someone like Tom Tiffany as the Republican front runner, we stand a better chance at making gains in this very red district.

And we have the perfect opportunity for you to get involved.

Road to future of the Democratic Party runs through northern Wisconsin

John Nichols, Cap Times

September 3, 2019

Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy will quit his House seat later this month, and the special election to replace him offers Democrats a golden opportunity to frame out the next politics of the state — and the nation. If a Democrat wins the seat, or even comes close, the message will be that Democrats are renewing their fortunes in rural America.

Democrats have a base to build from in Duffy’s 7th District. But to get the result they want, and need, they will have to show up, organize and invest the resources that are required. That’s a tall order. But it’s an essential one for a party that narrowly lost the state in the last presidential election.

Duffy’s sprawling northern Wisconsin district is one of the most rural in the country. It leans Republican but it has plenty of blue voters. Donald Trump carried it in 2016, and Mitt Romney narrowly won it in 2012. But Barack Obama took it in 2008. The district has its share of small-town conservatives. Yet it’s got hotbeds of old-school rural progressivism that send populist Democrats to the Legislature. Native Americans have deep roots in the region, and there are small but growing Asian-American and Latinx communities.

That’s the base to build from in the 7th. The race will be hard. But this one must be run and it must be run well. Ben Wikler, the new chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, knows this. He said, “Democrats are fighting for every square inch of Wisconsin — rural, suburban and urban alike.” His commitment is vital. But there also must be a commitment from national party committees and strategists. They have to recognize that to win rural regions of Wisconsin and other states, the party must run smart.

The party can’t afford to repeat past mistakes. For instance, Democratic strategists must recognize that abandoning progressive principles will get Democrats nowhere. The key is to mobilize new voters and to build the party back up in communities across Wisconsin where it was winning until recently.

Only a decade ago, maps of U.S. House seats showed vast swaths of blue in the rural regions of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota. From the 1930s through the 2000s, Democrats secured House seats not just in big cities, college towns, and selected suburbs but also in farm country and the small towns of the Great Lakes states, the Upper and Lower Midwest, and the Great Plains. Long after “the solid South” began to swing from Democrats to Republicans, states along the Canadian border and just south of it continued to elect progressive populist Democrats to the House and Senate.

But today, despite Democratic gains in 2018, the congressional map is way redder across the Great Plains and the Upper Midwest than it used to be. From 2010 to 2016, Democrats lost five U.S. Senate seats in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. And they’ve kept losing Northern-tier House seats. Northern Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District — a Democratic stronghold dating back to Harry Truman’s presidency, with just one two-year break — flipped Republican in 2018.

So how do Democrats reverse what can only be described as a losing streak in rural America? They have to run campaigns that speak to the distinct character of the rural and small-town districts of Northern-tier states such as Wisconsin. To do this, they must reject cookie-cutter Washington programs and strategies — especially when it comes to talking to farmers.

There was a farm crisis before President Trump started his trade war, and the party needs to recognize that fact. Wisconsin lost almost 700 dairy farms in 2018, a rate of nearly two a day. Now, as the president’s incoherent policies make things steadily worse, anger is rising. That anger has, in past elections, created an opening for Democrats, and it could again in the 2019 special election to replace Duffy.

But Democrats need to offer more than criticism of Trump and “feel your pain” platitudes. They must talk about the real economics of rural America — recognizing that farm policy is vital, but that it’s also necessary to renew small manufacturing, small business and infrastructure. And Democrats must make it clear that they will keep rural schools and post offices open because when they leave, small towns begin to waste away.

There’s a hopeful sign in the fact that at least some Democratic presidential candidates “get” rural. Elizabeth Warren’s New Deal–style commitment to building out broadband is terrific. Bernie Sanders is great on sustaining small farmers. However, while individual candidates are solid, the party is not. Its 2016 Democratic platform barely mentioned rural concerns, and the party’s messaging even now is agonizingly vapid.

To get it right, Wisconsin Democrats should borrow from the plans developed by Sanders and Warren — and invite these progressive contenders to make campaign swings through the northland. They should listen to rural advocates, especially the National Farmers Union, the National Family Farm Coalition, Native American tribes, and groups that represent the burgeoning Latinx population — such as Wisconsin’s Voces de la Frontera. They can link up with labor organizations that have members in the north, including the National Association of Rural Letter Carriers, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Postal Workers Union, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.

Above all, they must seize every opportunity to win races where they won not so long ago. They can do that by running hard for Duffy’s seat, and by making a commitment to keep running until the map flips blue.

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times.