By Ryan Ekvall l Wisconsin Reporter
APPLETON — Fresh off their failed efforts to oust Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Democrats aim to rally their base in preparation for the next, all-important battle, the looming November elections.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin held its annual convention this weekend here, days after losing five of the six recall elections. Democrat John Lehman appears to have defeated state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, but the 800-vote margin of victory is still unofficial, and Wanggaard hasn’t conceded defeat.
“The mood is that the majority of the delegates are disappointed in the recall,” said delegate David Sartori, who added he never believed Walker would be recalled.
Sartori said he expects the party to use the convention to regroup and focus on November.
Wisconsin once again is expected to be a battleground state in this year’s presidential race, and Sen. Herb Kohl‘s decision not to seek re-election has put that seat in play as Democrats try to maintain a majority in the U.S. Senate.
In addition, Wisconsin Democrats will fight once again for majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature.
If Lehman’s apparent victory holds, it gives Democrats a 17-16 majority and the opportunity to slow down the Republican agenda. The GOP, however, hopes to regain the majority in November, before lawmakers return to session in January.
But former DPW chairman Joe Wineke spoke to Wisconsin Reporter about several issues, including the hostile environment at the Capitol.
Wineke is vying to represent the state Assembly’s newly drawn 80th district, a seat Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Cross Plains, also is seeking.
Wineke is a former member of the Assembly and succeeded Russ Feingold in the state Senate.
“When I was there, we fought like cats and dogs, but at the end of the day we can go and have a beer and we didn’t hate each other. And today, both parties are this way. They don’t even talk to each other,” Wineke said.
The recent recalls focused attention on Wisconsin politics — and it appears that, at least among the Wisconsin press, that interest remains.
“By the way, I’m just impressed there’s reporters here, because several of the conventions recently there’s like the AP, WisPolitics and no one else,” he said.
Several top Democrats were scheduled to speak at the convention, including: U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin D-2nd District, who is seeking the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Herb Kohl; state Sen. Mark Miller, of Monona; and Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Even Ed Schultz, host of MSNBC’s The Ed Show, made an appearance and, reportedly, was made an honorary Wisconsin citizen by the Democratic Party for his coverage of the recall election.