Wisconsin Democrats elected a new chair at their party convention in Milwaukee over the weekend. Martha Laning, a community activist from Plymouth, acknowledged her party has taken a beating in recent years.
“Yeah, they did,” Laning said. “We need to have a message that is driving to our values, that really resonates with the residents and the citizens of our state. What’s really key here is that we are seeing the house of cards that the Republicans have built, falling.” Scott Walker’s tax cuts, said Laning, are hurting Wisconsin communities.
Laning’s business background – she has an MBA – will inform her plans moving forward. “Reach out to our customers and find out what their needs are. We work as a team to evaluate if we need to make any changes, and then we pick the best people to fill those positions, and that’s what I plan on doing.” she said.
The 52 year-old Laning got 721 delegate votes. Milwaukee political consultant Jason Rae was the closest of four other candidates, with 428 votes. Former party chair Joe Wineke of Dane County received 191 votes, while candidates Jeff Smith and Stephen Smith got three and six votes, respectively.
Laning succeeds Mike Tate, whose term as party chair saw the DPW’s fund-raising effectiveness grow, even as the party suffered electoral setbacks, including the loss of Russ Feingold’s 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, and three victories for Governor Scott Walker. Questioned about how much she’ll earn at the head of the party, Laning said she planned on working full-time in the position “at least until we get this under control.” She wasn’t clear what her salary would be. Tate earned $122,000.