perils and promises

It's the first Tuesday in November, so it must be election day somewhere. In fact, there are a number of pretty important elections taking place in Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi, and Kentucky. In Virginia, control of the state Senate and the House of Delegates is at stake in the chief races in play. Some are speculating that a big win for Republicans could provide a rationale for Governor Glenn Youngkin to announce a bid for the GOP nomination for President. In Ohio, a constitutional amendment to protect reproductive health care — specifically abortion and contraception rights — is on the ballot. In Mississippi, there's another race for governor. In this one, Tate Reeves, the Republican incumbent, is facing "Democrat Brandon Presley, a state utility regulator and cousin of rock ’n’ roll legend Elvis Presley." Reeves is neck-deep in a financial scandal and wasn't all that popular the first time he ran, winning with just 52% of the vote in 2019.

In Kentucky, the biggest race is between the incumbent Democrat Andy Beshear and the Republican challenger Daniel Cameron, a Mitch McConnell protege. Beshear has wanted the focus to be abortion rights, which he supports and his opponent does not. Cameron wants to focus on inflation. It will be interesting to see what comes of this first head-to-head messaging war.

In fact, messaging occupies the core of every campaign. In preparation for the coming elections, Grassroots North Shore is hosting a Zoom event about messaging: Can Democrats Win the Messaging War in 2024?. The program is at 7:00pm on Sunday, November 12, and features an interview with David Pepper, former chair of the Ohio Democratic Party and author of two vital books: Laboratories of Autocracy and Saving Democracy: A User's Manual for Every American. In addition, we'll hear from Melisa Agard, minority leader in the state Senate, and Mandela Barnes, head of Power to the Polls. The outcomes of some of the elections described in the first couple of paragraphs may offer some fresh insights. All you have to do is sign up and attend!

In a rousing speech to kick off a One Year to Win canvass in Glendale last Sunday, Ben Wikler, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, reminded us that the November 5, 2024 election may truly be the most important one ever. Now we do hear that said almost every four years, but our democracy continues to be under threat nearly everywhere you look. The Brennan Center for Justice offers this analysis of the recently elected Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson (MAGA Mike to those in the know): "Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is not just a casual election denier, a cynical pol winking at the MAGA mob. Johnson was the congressional architect of the effort to overturn the 2020 election, advocating an interpretation of the Constitution so outlandish that not even the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority could swallow it." Johnson was behind the so-called "independent state legislature" theory that even our deeply right-wing Supreme Court couldn't countenance. And that was far from the only effort MAGA Mike pursued to reverse the 2020 results. The Brennan Center analysis will step you through the most important ones and discuss why this matters for the 2024 election.

The House of Representatives and the US Senate jointly complete the process of electing the US President. But a lot happens before we get to that ceremonial act. On October 2, NBC News's Jake Tapper wrote, "Former President Donald Trump is lashing out at political and legal foes in increasingly violent terms as his campaign to return to office accelerates.... The aggressive turn began a week ago on Truth Social, where Trump alluded to the execution of his former top military official." And the "problem" has only increased in the last few weeks. As Ruth Ben-Ghiat wrote in her Substack Lucid, "Autocrats seek to create a climate of fear in societies so that silence about their crimes will become the norm. They use the threat and reality of violence not just against their usual targets —the press, opposition parties, judges, and more— but against the elites of their parties as a means of keeping them in line. Those elites, in turn, threaten others to prove their loyalty to the leader and maintain their position in the hierarchy of thugs."

In his biography of Senator Mitt Romney, McKay Coppins wrote that "Romney attributed some of the two-faced behavior of his colleagues to their fear of violent retribution from their voter base..... One senator wanted to vote for Trump’s second impeachment but feared for his family’s safety if he did." We must urge our leaders to speak out, to take TRE45ON's words — "I am your justice.... I am your retribution" — seriously. On March 4, as he said these words, attendees at CPAC went absolutely wild. Project 2025, bankrolled by the Heritage Foundation, fleshes out what that justice and retribution would look like.

In Wisconsin, we can just glimpse a ray of hope as the Supreme Court of Wisconsin gets down to work. Oral arguments concerning the challenge to our current election maps, Clarke v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, are scheduled to be heard in Madison on Tuesday, November 21. You can access links to the many briefs for this case. At issue in the challenge is not gerrymandering per se; rather it is the way 55 of the 99 Assembly districts and 21 of the 33 the Senate districts "'consist of a patchwork of disconnected pieces that do not share a common border with other parts of the same district' and therefore run afoul of the 'Wisconsin Constitution’s plain-text ‘contiguous territory’ requirement'” (Democracy Docket, October 9, 2023). A second issue with profound implications concerns the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government. When the Supreme Court imposed the current legislative map in 2022, the Court chose the one the legislature had passed, the governor had vetoed, but the legislature failed to override the veto. In essence, petitioners argue, even though the legislature could not muster the votes the Court in effect overrode the veto for it. We cannot predict the outcome of this complicated case, but we can hope that if it is decided promptly, we could have new Assembly and Senate districts for the 2024 elections.

IF WE HAVE NEW MAPS, we have a shot at electing legislative bodies that are more responsive to the electorate and our priorities. Of course, even with new maps a differently constituted Supreme Court could undo what we hope will happen this year. That's why EVERY ELECTION and EVERY ACT of ISSUE ADVOCACY matters. Although we're heading into an election hiatus, Grassroots North Shore is busy looking ahead to next year. The spring nonpartisan primary will be held on February 20. The spring nonpartisan election and the preferential presidential election will take on April 2. People hoping to be elected to nonpartisan positions can begin circulating nomination papers on December 1, 2023. After January 1, you can go online to to check your registration and to request absentee ballots for the whole year. We won't have election-specific information for you until the middle of January, but right now you can visit our page that covers campaign contribution limits for every local, state, and federal office.


Tuesday, November 7

Wisconsin Poll Worker Info Session, 5:00 - 5:30pm

Serve your community and protect democracy by becoming a poll worker for the 2024-2025 election cycle! Working the polls and helping your neighbors cast their ballots is one of the most impactful ways to support voting rights in your community. Join our 30-minute Info Session to learn more about being a poll worker and how you can get involved for 2024-2025! PLEASE NOTE: you must be a Wisconsin resident to be a poll worker here. For volunteer opportunities for out-of-state residents, please visit!

Caroline Gómez-Tom for County Board, 5:30 - 7:00pm
Transfer Pizzeria Café, 101 W Mitchell St, Milwaukee

Join Caroline as she recaps the work she's been doing to serve District 14 in the six months since her election and how she plans to continue serving her community for a second term. Donate today to help Caroline continue to serve District 14. To contribute offline, checks can be made out and mailed to:
Caroline Cares for Milwaukee, PO BOX 210852, Milwaukee, WI 53221-9998

Wednesday, November 8

Fair Maps Coalition's November Meeting, 7:00pm

There's a lot going on in the Clarke redistricting case.Hhear about it at the meeting. Register. (The registration form may say Nov 1, but ignore that, and put the meeting in your calendar for Nov 8!)

Thursday, November 9

Redistricting in Wisconsin, 6:20 - 8:00pm

The League of Women Voters WI is holding three briefing sessions in preparation for the elections in 2024. This first program focuses on redistricting, with a presentation on its history, a talk on the issue from a legal perspective, and one from a Petitioner on the case being argued at the Court on Tuesday, November 21. Register for this session. There will be two more sessions — on Saturday, November 11, from 9:45am - 12:00pm on Citizen Action at the State Level and on Tuesday, November 14, from 6:15 - 8:00pm on Overcoming Barriers to Voting & Election Administration Challenges. You can register for all three here.

Saturday, November 11

Citizen Action at the State Level: Proposed Wisconsin Constitutional Amendments, 9:45am - 12:00pm

The second of three briefing sessions the League of Women Voters WI is holding focuses on how the Wisconsin Constitution is amended, presents three potential amendments, and provides perspective from Ohio: How was Ohio's Campaign Effective at Raising Awareness? Register for this session.

Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Kinnickinnic Ave and Lincoln Ave, Milwaukee

Stand for Peace demonstrates for peace at a different intersection in Milwaukee County every Saturday.

Armistice Day observance, 7:00 - 7:30pm
Milwaukee City Hall, 220 E Wells St, Milwaukee

Sponsored by Veterans for Peace and a coalition of peace and justice groups. Speakers: Medea Benjamin, co-founder of national women-led peace group CODEPINK, and Mark Denning, educator, lecturer and curriculum specialist in Native American history and culture. Music by Holly Haebig and Harvey Taylor. Free public event. All welcome.

Sunday, November 12

JFK Dinner, 4:00 - 7:00pm
The Avenue, 795 Fond du Lac Ave, Fond du Lac

Doors will open at 4 p.m. for Cocktails, followed by dinner at 5 p.m., with program to follow at 6 p.m. Keynote Speaker will be Jesus Salas, author of Obreros Unidos: The Roots and Legacy of the Farmworkers Movement. This will be a great time to meet like minded Progressives. This will be a fundraiser to unseat Glenn Grothman! Purchase your ticket here.

Can Democrats Win the Messaging War in 2024? 7:00 - 8:30pm

Grassroots North Shore presents an online discussion of messaging tactics and challenges in the 2024 elections, both national and statewide. Featured speakers David Pepper (Saving Democracy), Melissa Agard (WI Senate Majority Leader), and Mandela Barnes (Power to the Polls), offer knowledgeable, insider views of how to win the all-important state and national elections in 2024.Sign up.

Monday, November 13

Fact or Fiction: Dispelling Abortion Care Myths, 6:30 - 8:00pm
6737 W Washington St, first floor conference room, West Allis

Join us for a discussion with experts on the medical and legal aspects of reproductive health care. In this first in a series of forums, we will examine some of the facts and myths around this complicated, and often contentious, topic in order to work toward effective public policy. Free admission. Registration required for in-person and Zoom attendance. Register here.

North Shore Fair Maps: A Democracy 3-fer, 7:00pm

North Shore Fair Maps monthly meeting presents a Democracy 3-fer. In one night, we’ll hear about three pro-democracy efforts in Wisconsin. Repeat guest Sara Eskrich (Democracy Found) provides an update on Wisconsin’s Final Five Voting effort. The Wisconsin Map Assessment Project (WIMAP) reveals their white paper on the 2020-2022 redistricting cycle. And Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski tells us what she’s learned about her new responsibilities, and how she is using them to strengthen democracy in our state. Register.

Tuesday, November 14

Overcoming Barriers to Voting & Election Administration Challenges, 6:15 - 8:00pm

The third briefing session the League of Women Voters WI is holding focuses on election administration and protecting election workers; current barriers to voting and what can be done; and the LWVUS moonshot goal overview: abolishing the Electoral College; and the status of achieving the National Popular Vote. Register for this session.

Wednesday, November 15

EMERGE Wisconsin Woman of the Year 2023, 6:00pm
Greenhouse 7, 524 S Layton Blvd, Milwaukee

Join us as we celebrate the acheievements of Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski, as well as take the time to reconnect with our Emerge family at the return of Woman of the Year! Buy tickets.

Friday, November 17

League of Progressive Seniors Workshop & Discussion, 9:30am
Knickerbocker Hotel, Juneau Rm, 1028 E Juneau, Milwaukee

Neglect and Abuse: Partisan Policies are Leaving WI Children Far Behind. Presented by the League of Progressive Seniors and Souls to the Polls WI. Join us on an update on how Wisconsin is underfunding early childhood care and education and why this matters to seniors. Expert panelists will discuss how we can make sure children from birth to 3 years of age have a chance to excel, what's needed for growth, and what is really happening. For more info and to RSVP, email [email protected].

Oz Dems Monthly Meeting, 7:00 - 8:00pm
1930 Wisconsin Ave., Grafton

Join us at our Grafton Office as we gather to hear speakers and catch up on the local and state politics influencing Ozaukee County – while spending time with like-minded people. All interested people are encouraged to attend.

Saturday, November 18

Learn (on Zoom) to Register WI Democrats (In Person)! 12:00 - 1:00pm (CST)

Want to do something concrete to fight voter suppression and elect more Democrats in the crucial state of Wisconsin? Learn to register Democrats, the Field Team 6 way! It's the #1 most direct, effective way to swing elections – and it's also incredibly fun. We'll introduce you to Field Team 6, let you in on all the secrets of successful voter registration, and answer all your questions. You'll leave the call fired up, and knowing everything you need to lead your own voter drive! Sign up.

Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
92nd St and North Ave, Milwaukee

Stand for Peace demonstrates for peace at a different intersection in Milwaukee County every Saturday.


Saturday, November 25

Stand for Peace, 12:00 - 1:00pm
St. Paul and Water, Milwaukee

Stand for Peace demonstrates for peace at a different intersection in Milwaukee County every Saturday.

Wednesday, November 29

On the Issues: Wisconsin Election Outlook, 12:15 - 1:15
Eckstein Hall | Lubar Center (1215 W Michigan, Milwaukee) and online

Lubar Center Director Derek C. Mosley will talk with Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll and professor of law and public policy; Craig Gilbert, Lubar Center Fellow, and longtime journalist in Washington, D.C., whose election analysis appears in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and Julia Azari, professor of political science at Marquette University and a regular contributor to national discussions of politics. They will discuss Wisconsin's 2024 election outlook, including the effects of changes in voter demographics and highlights of polling data on some of the state's most significant issues. Sign up.

Saturday, December 2

League of Women Voters: Elect Her Workshop, 10:00am - 1:30pm
Jake's, A Lakeland Community, 529 Ontario Avenue, Sheboygan

Voters deserve a choice when going to the polls. All too often local offices are left unopposed or even vacant as not enough people in our communities have stepped up to run for office. We're doing our part to change that. In addition to our run for office toolkit and resources on our website, LWVWI will be co-hosting a nonpartisan Elect Her workshop in collaboration with Running Start, LWV Sheboygan Co and Sheboygan County Youth Voters. During the workshop, participants will learn campaign strategy, leadership skills, like public speaking and networking, and will leave with a plan to run for political office. We will be utilizing Running Start's proven Elect Her curriculum that gives young women the confidence, capabilities and connections they need to run and win!

Friday, December 15

Waukesha Dems Drag Show, 7:00pm
Schuetze Recreation Center Activity Room, 1120 Baxter St, Waukesha

NOTE: this event was originally scheduled for Nov 11. Join us for our first ever drag show and only fun-raiser of 2023! This will be a fun night of bingo, games, photo ops, and fun! All funds raised will go to support our 2024 plans to win local races before re-electing Tammy Baldwin and Joe Biden! Waukesha County will be #Crucial to winning Wisconsin, your donation sets us up for success. There will be prizes, fun, BBQ catering, and MORE! Buy tickets.

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