In Wisconsin, DNC Finally Takes Notice

Liz Novak

As reported yesterday, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz visited Wisconsin Wednesday to rally with recall volunteers in Racine and host a fundraiser in Milwaukee for gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. During her visit, she hinted that former President Bill Clinton was in the process of working out his schedule” in order to arrange a visit to Wisconsin before the recall election next Tuesday.

This afternoon, Mike Tate, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), posted on his facebook page that former President Bill Clinton will be in Milwaukee tomorrow.

With official details yet to be released, President Clinton’s appearance is by all means a last ditch attempt to squelch any debate about whether the national party is invested in the recall effort. It seems that the DNC has finally learned, Wasserman Schultz’s ridiculous statement on Sunday notwithstanding, that the Wisconsin recall elections have national implications and its time to send in the big guns.

But will President Clinton’s stop in Milwaukee make a big enough impact to turnout voters?

Milwaukee is the biggest, most diverse city in Wisconsin, with an African American population in the city of Milwaukee approaching 50%. In 2008, Milwaukee County turned out big in the presidential election with more than 70% of the eligible voting population casting a ballot in the presidential election. 

The implications of turning out Milwaukee voters who overwhelming voted for President Obama at a rate of 2 to 1 in the 2008 election, is well understood by the DPW and the DNC. In addition to Milwaukee County, turnout efforts will be focused in Dane County, home to the state capitol and epicenter of the recall movement, which also overwhelming and consistently votes Democratic.

While President Clinton might be able to rouse strong Democrats across the state, it’s less clear if his presence and endorsement of the recall effort have the power to turnout out likely Barrett voters that may otherwise forgo Tuesday’s election.

But there is hope that Clinton’s visit will be a primer for an even bigger appearance to come. With Obama in Minneapolis on Friday, and Chicago this Saturday and Sunday for fundraising, David Axelrod might finally let Obama out of his cage to make a stop in Wisconsin. Might” is the operative word here.

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Liz Novak is In These Times’ Development Director.
Democratic Rep. Summer Lee, who at the time was a candidate for the state House, at a demonstration in Pittsburgh for Antwon Rose, who was killed by police, in 2018. Lee recently defeated her 2024 primary challenger.
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