buckle up, it's crazy out there!

The past few weeks, I've focused a lot of newsletters on Representative Robin Vos's threat to impeach Justice Janet Protasiewicz and his sudden introduction of a bill (AD 415) to implement a so-called nonpartisan process for developing and adopting maps of electoral districts, a proposal that only looks nonpartisan until we examine the actual bill. And it turns out that the version adopted as amended allows the legislature to revise the proposed maps any way they choose — as long as the Republicans with their near veto-proof majority can persuade at least one Democrat to vote for it — and gives the partisan legislature the final say. The Assembly is currently on hiatus and will not return until next week. And the Senate has so far not taken up the redistricting bill the Assembly passed a couple of weeks ago. So all is quiet on the threat to impeach Justice Protasiewicz and the attempt to fool everyone into thinking the GOP has seen the light now and is in favor of nonpartisan redistricting, two parts of the three-part effort to keep legislative power out of the hands of the voting public: "fire" Meagan Wolfe, the current state administrator of elections; impeach the possible fourth vote on the Wisconsin Supreme Court to redraw the election maps; adopt a bogus version of the Iowa Model for nonpartisan redistricting. We're keeping an eye on all three.

Since last week's newsletter, The Big Lie-bowski has taken center stage again. This time the Big Lie isn't about "rigged elections." It's about the value of real estate. New York Judge Engoron has already issued a partial summary judgment declaring that "Donald J. Trump persistently committed fraud by inflating the value of his assets" (gift article: NYTimes, September 26, 2023).The trial on this civil matter is simply to assess how much the penalties (disgorgement) should be. In the ruling Judge Engoron has already issued, the business certificates (i.e. licenses) of all New York entities The Cowardly Lyin' owns and all business that are"controlled or beneficially owned by the individual defendants" have been cancelled and a receiver will be appointed to oversee all matters pertaining to those entities.

And this just in: Judge Engoron has issued a gag order against Donald Trump. If he violates the order, he will go to jail for 30 days, apparently. See the Washington Post's account here. Or this much longer and more detailed account in The Messenger. Now taken down, the post on Truth Social that prompted the gag order attacked Judge Engoron's staff. It apparently read "Schumer’s girlfriend, Alison R. Greenfield, is running this case against me. How disgraceful! This case should be dismissed immediately!!" In the election denial case, prosecutor Jack Smith requested a limited gag order and followed up with a reply to Trump's filing with an even more urgent argument. You can see Glenn Kirschner's take on the latest on YouTube. Judge Chutkin scheduled a hearing on the gag order motion for October 16.

Also, in Congress, Kevin McCarthy has just been booted from his speakership. In the Washington Post, Phillip Bump headlines his analysis of the Republican party's trajectory over the past decade The future of the GOP is now its past. Even Newt Gingrich, the original Congressional bomb thrower, is arguing that "Republicans must expel Matt Gaetz," calling Gaetz "an anti-Republican who has become actively destructive to the conservative movement." So now there's a pro-tem speaker, Representative Patrick McHenry, until a new speaker is elected. What a day! But the government is still up and running. Justice Thomas actually recused himself from the Supreme Court decision not to hear John Eastman's appeal to keep his evidence of crime (by which I mean his emails) from prosecutors. And Ukraine continues to receive robust support from other nations, including the United States. Some of the more hopeful signs that democracy may yet survive.

So much drama for the media to qvell* over. In the real world, there are still meaningful ways to help realize the policies we desire. If you act quickly, you can participate in Vote Forward's letter-writing campaign for elections this November in Ohio and Virginia. As you might recall, Ohio voters have a chance to pass a constitutional amendment to guarantee access to abortion in that state. Sign up for the Ohio Ballot Initiative. In Virginia, the November election provides a chance to flip the lower house from red to blue. You can participate in several issue-oriented letter-writing campaigns. For example, Climate Change or Reproductive Freedom.

*a yiddish term meaning a kind of celebratory exclaiming, a joyous outburst

In other news, North Shore Fair Maps is holding a vital zoom you really don't want to miss on Monday, October 11, at 7 pm — Math, Science, and Maps — with guest speaker Attorney Sam Hirsch (from the law firm Jenner & Block) providing insights into the second gerrymandering lawsuit filed in August with the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Robert Yablon (from the Democracy Research Initiative) will bring us up to speed on the Legislature's "recusal / impeachment" power play. It really is the maps, stupid, that have turned Wisconsin into a perpetually bitter political battleground. If it's true that Democrats would need a huge majority of the votes in any given election to eke out a tiny majority in the Assembly, then MAGA Republicans can clearly ignore constituents and their policy preferences. Under the 2011 maps and strengthened by the 2021 maps, Wisconsin voters are trapped. North Shore Fair Maps and a coalition of advocacy groups are both calling attention to the matter and fighting it with every tool at their disposal. Join in and sign up

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the legislature's sneak attack

Before I dive into the contentious issues brewing in our state, I want to call your attention to the next big Grassroots North Shore event: Winning the Messaging War, to be held on Sunday, November 12. Our featured speakers are David Pepper (author of Saving Democracy), Melissa Agard (Minority Leader in the WI Senate) and Mandela Barnes (President of Power to the Polls). Although the event itself is still six weeks away, we'd like to hear your questions and concerns. We especially welcome questions for David Pepper who will have to appear in a pre-taped interview owing to scheduling issues. So submit your questions as soon as possible.

Over the past two weeks, the Wisconsin legislature, especially the Assembly, went berserk. In the Assembly, MAGAites hurriedly crafted a bill supposedly designed to implement a fair and nonpartisan process for drawing election districts — AB 415 — at 3am on Tuesday and then presented the bill for amendment and passage Thursday night. No committee hearing. No public hearing. No time to read and think carefully about the bill's effects.

Boss Vos presented it as a nonpartisan redistricting law based on the Iowa model. But according to the Iowa State Auditor, the Wisconsin bill omits KEY PROVISIONS that safeguard against reverting to the same kind of rigged maps we have had since 2011. As two Iowa officials note, "The clearest and most consequential difference [from the Iowa model] is that Wisconsin’s proposal rejects our system of judicial review. In Iowa, the legislature has limited opportunities to accept or reject the maps drafted by legislative staff. If lawmakers fail to reach consensus, the maps are drawn by the Iowa Supreme Court and enacted" (WisDems: Bipartisan Iowa leaders: 'The proposal currently in front of the Wisconsin Legislature cannot be accurately called the Iowa Model').

As the bill heads to the Wisconsin Senate, you might wonder why Vos suddenly chose to adopt a bill that pretends to create a nonpartisan process for redrawing our election districts in time to be adopted for 2024 elections. Here's why: "Vos offered the plan to nullify pending lawsuits over the 2022 redistricting" (Wisconsin Examiner, September 15, 2023). In other words, the goal is to prevent the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWIS) from reviewing the maps it approved when the court still had four conservative justices sitting in judgment. Now that there are four progressive justices, they fear that SCOWIS will throw out those maps and adopt ones that are truly nonpartisan.

The same change in the make-up of SCOWIS prompted the threat to impeach Justice Protasiewicz. Never mind that the only grounds for impeachment our state constitution recognizes are corrupt conduct in office or commission of a crime. In short, Vos has been pulling out all the stops so that the power to stay in power remains in the hands of the MAGAites.


  • In his weekly newsletter on September 22, Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler noted that the Assembly gaveled out of session last Thursday and won't be back in session until October 10. So, for the rest of this week and all of next week, the Assembly cannot impeach anyone! He goes on to say:
    You made this happen. Without your voice, your outrage, and your organizing, it’s entirely possible—and in fact, based on what we’ve heard, more than likely—that Robin Vos and the Assembly Republican caucus would have already voted to impeach Justice Janet Protasiewicz by this moment, and Wisconsin would have been at the center of an explosive constitutional crisis.
    So, keep it up. Keep calling and writing your Assembly representative and the state Senator to let them know how you feel about the bogus effort to take the judiciary out of the redistricting process and the equally bogus effort to impeach Justice Protasiewicz. Even if your elected officials are Democrats. (After all, Representative LaKeisha Myers voted for the amended AB 415, the only Democrat to do so.) Legislative staff keep a running account of public views, even if those views don't always sway legislative opinions. To find your legislators and their contact information, visit the Legislature's home page.

    *   *   *   *
  • Sign up for a Poll Worker Info Session with the Wisconsin Democrats. The Voter Protection Team has added Saturday sessions from 11:00 - 11:30am on September 30, October 14, and October 28. If you'd like to get involved in volunteering with the Dems, this is a perfect opportunity. It's also one of our final big chances to spread the word ahead of the November deadline to submit poll worker nominations. See all the available days and times and sign up. And bring a friend!

    *   *   *   *
  • The Wisconsin Senate recently voted to fire Wisconsin Elections Administrator Meagan Wolfe. She is being pushed out of her job as the state’s top election official. She is non-partisan and non-ideological and carries out decisions made by the Commissioners. A significant part of her job is ensuring that local clerks and other election officials have the resources and technology they need to conduct a safe, accurate, and successful election.
    Here's what you can do:
    Please write a thank you note WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe. Feel free to use one of the sample messages on the page linked above or personalize the message to put it in your own voice.
    Mailing Address:
    Administrator Meagan Wolfe
    Wisconsin Elections Commission, Second Floor
    201 West Washington Avenue
    Madison, WI 53703

As I was finishing this newsletter, a news flash arrived. Apparently when it convenes on Thursday, the Senate will not take up the redistricting bill the Assembly passed late last week. That's a huge relief. As Ben Wikler says, the public outcry about impeachment has the upper hand right now. And it seems we might have at least temporarily derailed the bogus Assembly bill also. Make your voices heard. Call and write your legislators!

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It's all about RIGGED MAPS

Today's newsletter is entirely devoted to summarizing the ongoing battle for fair election maps for our state. If you care about this issue — and you should, since every other issue we care about hangs on restoring fairness to our election districts — you need to call, write or email your state senator and your assembly representatives to oppose firing Meagan Wolfe, to oppose impeaching Janet Protasiewicz, and to oppose a sham nonpartisan method for drawing election maps. To find who represents you, how to contact them, and where they currently stand on the threat to impeach Justice Protasiewicz, go to Defend Justice.

The state of Wisconsin is in a fierce battle to retain even a semblance of representative democracy, a governing structure that relies on the ability of voters to choose representatives to its various governing bodies. (See Wikipedia: "Representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy, is a type of democracy where elected people represent a group of people, in contrast to direct democracy.") At the moment, we have a representative democracy in the executive branch of statewide governance. Four of the five top executive positions, three Democrats and one Republican, won their positions in the 2022 election. (The fifth was appointed after the person who was elected resigned.) At the apex of our judicial system, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is comprised of seven justices, all of whom have been elected to their seats. When Justice Janet Protasiewicz won her election against Dan Kelly by a resounding 11% in April 2023, the court's center of gravity shifted left. But that shift had been underway for the last several supreme court elections: for Justice Dallet in 2018 and for Justice Karofsky in 2020 — the one exception being the election of Justice Hagedorn in 2019. Clearly the resulting make-up of the court reflects the choices Wisconsin voters have made over the last six years.

The legislative branch of our government, however, is decidedly undemocratic in that the district maps have been drawn — first in 2011 and again in 2021 — to ensure a Republican majority. Recently Craig Gilbert asked Are Wisconsin's election maps 'rigged'? The answer, as he shows in the article, is YES: "the outcome had already been decided before any votes were cast. Forget about who the candidates are, forget about what the issues are, forget about what the polls say. The results in these legislative races were already 'baked in' by how the districts were drawn."

Our current legislature is again making an open frontal assault on representative democracy. In recent weeks the Senate and Assembly have taken three steps to help ensure that control of the legislature remains firmly in Republican hands and that state elections are overseen by someone the legislature chooses.

First, the senate, in the grip of a super-majority, voted on September 13 to fire Meagan Wolfe, the administrator of the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) (GOP-led Wisconsin Senate votes to fire nonpartisan official targeted by 2020 election skeptics). Originally, Wolfe was unanimously confirmed by the senate after it rejected her predecessor who had worked for the Government Accountability Board (GAB). To understand the scope of the ongoing power grab, we need a little bit of history. The GAB was originally created as a reform measure in 2007 and "had a nonpartisan structure unique among election boards in the United States, with G.A.B. led by six former judges appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate" (Wikipedia). Republicans subsequently decided that GAB was inadequate because it pursued investigations into former governor Scott Walker's recall campaign. So it abolished that agency and created the WEC in 2016, undoing the nonpartisan approach and substituting a commission comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans all of whom were to be appointed by partisans.

But that reform also apparently did not seem to do, because it failed to satisfy the election deniers and skeptics repeatedly — and falsely — questioning the results of the 2020 election. So the senate voted to remove Meagan Wolfe from her position. In response to the senate vote to fire her, Attorney General Kaul immediately filed a lawsuit arguing that "Senate Republicans don’t have the authority to oust Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe and accused them of attacking the state’s elections." The AP article informs us that "Senate rejection would normally carry the effect of firing her." Because the WEC had not nominated anyone to serve as the administrator, however, "a recent state Supreme Court ruling appears to allow her to stay in office indefinitely as a holdover." The history of the constantly changing structure of election administration in Wisconsin shows how Republicans keep trying to control our elections, presumably to influence outcomes in their favor.

Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has been threatening to impeach Justice Protasiewicz if she does not recuse herself when the lawsuits challenging the current electoral maps are adjudicated by the Supreme Court. There are several reasons why this effort undermines the state judiciary. Perhaps most importantly, it amounts to yet another effort to overturn an election. Just watch Rachel Maddow and Ben Wikler explain. The effort has attracted a slew of national media. Here's Reid J. Epstein in the New York Times: Why Republicans Could Impeach a Liberal Judge Before She’s Heard a Case (gifted article). In the Washington Post, Scott Bauer and David A. Lieb publish GOP threat to impeach a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice is driven by fear of losing legislative edge (gifted). And Washington Post opinion columnist Jennifer Ruben posts Wisconsin GOP entertains a constitutional crisis. Again. (gifted). See also a New York Magazine article: Will Wisconsin Republicans Pull Off the Ultimate Power Grab?

And as if that weren't enough indication that the legislature is desperately trying to retain its lopsided power through rigged maps, Speaker Vos surreptitiously concocted a bill he claimed would be a nonpartisan method of drawing new election maps based on the "Iowa model." Vos presented the bill, AB 415, to the Assembly without a committee hearing, Democratic input, or public scrutiny. The bill passed with several amendments, but decidedly DOES NOT present a truly nonpartisan process for revising the rigged maps currently governing our elections. Representative Deb Andraca immediately warned that "the 'Iowa Model' that Robin Vos is proposing is actually a Trojan horse that threatens to undermine democratic fairness. Vos' 'Iowa model' harbors a perilous loophole that hands over unmitigated control of drawing districts to legislators, granting them the leverage to redraw and replace maps entirely on the third round of the drafting process."

Jessie Opoien and Molly Beck explain Why Wisconsin Republicans suddenly embraced redistricting changes and Democrats want no part of it in a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel piece. "The move is aimed at bypassing lawsuits before the state Supreme Court that seek to rewrite the current GOP-favorable maps that were adopted in 2021." In fact, the bill that passed does not truly embody the Iowa model. In a bipartisan statement, two Iowa politicos say "the proposal currently in front of the Wisconsin Legislature cannot be accurately called the Iowa model because it lacks the elements that have been the foundation for our system’s success. The clearest and most consequential difference is that Wisconsin’s proposal rejects our system of judicial review. In Iowa, the legislature has limited opportunities to accept or reject the maps drafted by legislative staff. If lawmakers fail to reach consensus, the maps are drawn by the Iowa Supreme Court and enacted" (WisDems: Bipartisan Iowa leaders: 'The proposal currently in front of the Wisconsin Legislature cannot be accurately called the Iowa Model'). But in the bill the Wisconsin Assembly passed on September 14, the Assembly can redraw the third round maps any way they choose, as long as there is at least one Democrat willing to vote for the maps. Andraca calls out this feature: "This loophole acts as a gateway to continued gerrymandering, allowing them to reject nonpartisan maps and instead sanction their own, bias-laden versions. This isn’t simply a flaw in the system; it is a purposeful mechanism that Vos identified to facilitate an undemocratic seizure of control."

So there we have it: the legislature's three efforts to undermine what should be our representative democracy: 1) fire the state's administrator of elections and put in her place someone more amenable to political pressure from the right wing currently controlling our legislature; 2) remove Justice Protaseiwicz to prevent the Supreme Court of Wisconsin from potentially tossing out the rigged election maps and adopting fair maps in their stead; and 3) pass a Trojan horse bill that purports to institute a nonpartisan process for drawing new maps but which in truth simply allows the legislature to continue to draw unfair election maps after a lengthy, drawn-out process. This third gambit is sure to end up in the courts after all but too late to have new and fair maps in place for the 2024 elections. So as our Grassroots North Shore Co-chair Debbie Patel says, we can turn to the courts now or we can turn to the courts later. The big difference is what maps will be in place for the next elections. Josh Marshall, at Talking Points Memo, has posted a thorough interview with Ben Wikler discussing the many aspects of the GOP strategy. It runs about 14 minutes but I highly recommend watching it.

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We have to fight back

We're facing a democracy emergency and we need EVERYONE to take action to protect it.

As you know, the MAGA crowd that dominates our legislature is planning to overturn the April 4 election for Wisconsin Supreme Court that we held just five months ago. Judge Janet Protasiewicz was elected by a landslide. But Speaker Robin Vos threatens to impeach her — before she has heard a single case — if she does not recuse herself from two redistricting cases (Clarke v Wisconsin Election Commission and Wright v Wisconsin Election Commission). Both cases were filed with the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWIS) in early August and are now waiting for SCOWIS to decide whether to hear them.

Here's what the Legislative Council says about the grounds to impeach a civil officer of the state: "The Assembly may impeach an elected official by a majority vote based on specific reasons: corrupt conduct in office or for the commission of a crime or misdemeanor" ( Wisconsin Legislative Council, IM-2014-03). Has Justice Protasiewicz committed a crime or misdemeanor? No. In the five or so weeks that she has been a member of the court, has she engaged in corrupt conduct? No. So what the Assembly threatens to do, frankly, is just a display of raw power, an attempt to lock in their control of the legislature and deny the ability of Wisconsin's voters to choose their leaders.

Here's what impeachment will mean. If she is impeached — which requires a vote of 50% in the Assembly — she will be suspended from the court until the Wisconsin Senate acquits her. The GOP holds 65% of the assembly seats, way more than necessary to vote for impeachment. In the Senate, at least two-thirds of the senators would need to vote to convict her. But here too the GOP has enough members to meet that threshold. A conviction would remove her from her seat on the court at which point Governor Evers could appoint someone to fill the vacancy. However, if the Senate delays holding the trial, she would remain on the court while suspended from all Supreme Court duties. While she is suspended, the court will be deadlocked with three liberal members and three right-wing ones. As Philip Bump wryly noted in the Washington Post on September 6, Wisconsin’s gerrymandering rides to the rescue of its gerrymandering.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is mounting a vigorous campaign to persuade assembly representatives to announce opposition to the impeachment and state senators to announce their intention to vote to acquit her should the senate hold a timely trial. And that's where you come in.

This Saturday, September 16, from noon to 3:00pm, canvassing will take place in and around Whitefish Bay (targeting Senator Dan Knodl and Assembly Representative Paul Melotik) and in Wauwatosa (targeting Senator Rob Hutton). Please join one of these canvasses. The goal is to talk directly to voters and to urge them to contact their representative and senator to voice their opposition to impeachment and removal. In addition to canvassing, please call and/or email and/or send mail to both your assembly representative and your state senator. Even if they're Democrats! If you don't know who represents you, you can look up the information and find the contact information for them at legis.wisconsin.gov. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has set up a system that will simplify calling and will offer some instructions on what to say. The website Defend Justice displays each representative and senator's public position on the issue. The site also includes a section on the news, a utility for finding your representative and senator, a petition you should sign, and of course a link to donate.

The MAGAites have concocted their insistence that Protasiewicz recuse herself on the already debunked notion that her view of the current election maps shows that she has prejudged the case and that the money the Democratic Party gave her campaign somehow taints her judgment on the law and the facts of the election map cases. The first complaint about comments Protasiewicz made during the campaign have been litigated in the past. Because she did not announce how she would rule, what she said as her opinion on the matter falls under the category of free speech. Here's the crux: in line with Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion in a case at the US Supreme Court, "judges are entitled to express views on disputed legal issues, whether on the campaign trail or elsewhere, and that this does not preclude them from impartially deciding cases" (Explainer: Judicial Judicial Recusal in Wisconsin and Beyond, Senior Staff Attorney Derek Clinger and Faculty Co-Director Robert Yablon for the State of Democracy Research Institute).

The campaign contribution excuse doesn't hold water either. In a table of the Explainer, Clinger and Yablon demonstrate that Justice Rebecca Bradley's campaign in 2016 took $2.6 million from the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform. The contribution amounted to 46.2% of her total campaign funds. The $9.9 million the Democratic Party contributed to the Protasiewicz campaign accounted for only 19.4% of her funds. Clinger and Yablon note that "members of the court — both conservative and liberal — have likewise been backed by large campaign funders and then participated in cases in which those funders have an interest."

In 2019, the Republican State Leadership Committee spent $1.25 million on behalf of Justice Hagedorn — nearly as much as the approximately $1.7 million spent by his own campaign committee. Prior to joining the court, Justice Hagedorn also served as chief legal counsel to Republican Governor Scott Walker. He was in that role in 2011, when Walker signed into law the legislative maps that the plaintiffs in Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission urged the Wisconsin Supreme Court to carry forward. Justice Hagedorn nevertheless participated in Johnson as well as other politically infused cases.

The Explainer goes to great depths, as if it were a brief in a case, citing both federal and state rulings and examples of recusal rules. They examine what judges and justices have done in recusal matters in the last decade. The bottom line is that the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to "adopt a rule requiring judges and justices to recuse from matters involving individuals and entities who financially supported their campaigns. Rather than a rule requiring recusal, Justice Rebecca Bradley stated that the optimal remedy when a judge fails to act with impartiality and integrity is for Wisconsinites to vote them out when they stand for election next." So some elections have consequences, just not this one? Ridiculous!

Watch Rachel Maddow and party chair Ben Wikler discuss the MAGA Republicans' hubris. Wikler announces the campaign to urge voters, who after all elected Protasiewicz by 11 points, to contact the legislature to voice their displeasure. He believes that the effort is already bearing some fruit.

But girding your loins to fight back against impeachment threats isn't the only thing we foot soldiers need to be addressing. Next up on what to do while we're gathering our strength for the 2024 elections: Volunteer for National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, September 19. As I mentioned in last week's newsletter, both Supermarket Legends and the League of Women Voters will be holding voter registration events.

Supermarket Legends is holding an event at four locations at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2022, voter turnout among young citizens in Wisconsin was outstanding: the best of any state in the country! But we really need to do it again. Meeting with students in their dorms, their union, and their library can reach students who may have been too young to vote in 2020 and 2022 but are now 18+. Getting them registered to vote is the first major step to engaging them for next year's elections. The registration drive will take place in two dorms — Sandburg and Cambridge Commons — as well as the student union and the library. Contact Sue Schneidler (Supermarket Legends) or Norma Gilson (Grassroots North Shore). If you have a preference for a morning shift or an afternoon shift, include that information in your email.

Working with the League of Women Voters on their voter registration activities is another great way to get involved. In conjunction with the City of Milwaukee Election Commission and Vote Riders, the League will have a Mini Carnival and Mock Election. The City of Milwaukee Election Commission will provide voting machines for the mock election. The League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County (LWVMC). Milwaukee Public Libraries will have voting trivia questions, swag to give away, and refreshments of attendees. The LWVMC is seeking volunteers for the events at Good Hope Road Library and Mitchell Street Library from 3:30 to 6:30pm. Sign up to volunteer.

The September 10 rally and march to support common sense gun safety legislation — sponsored by Grassroots North Shore, Moms Demand Action, WAVE, and the Brady Center — was terrific. At least two major television news outlets filmed the speeches and talked to participants. At the march on North Avenue, lots of drivers announced their support by honking. And people at the rally filled out more than 150 postcards to send to their legislators in support of several bills that have been proposed. Activity around this issue will continue over the next weeks. I'll have more information for you in the next newsletter. So watch this space.


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getting with the program

Today's newsletter is all about action with a little pertinent news thrown in. Labor Day is traditionally the kick-off for November campaigns. In Wisconsin, though, we don't have any elections on tap until February 20! Considering how many we've already had in our corner of Wisconsin this year — three of them, including a special election for AD 24 in July — having a stretch of months without one feels like a relief. BUT we still have work to do and issues we need to follow. So here are some of things in the immediate offing that you should do.

First, attend the rally and march Grassroots North Shore, Moms Demand Action, WAVE, and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence are holding on Sunday, September 10. We are gathering at North Point Water Tower Park (2288 N Lake Dr in Milwaukee) at 12:30pm to demand action on gun safety legislation pending in the legislature this fall. Keep Our Kids Safe at Schools includes a "shopping list" of legislative actions we want our representatives to pass. The rally and march call attention to Red Flag laws, Extreme Risk Protection Orders, Universal Background Checks, Safe Gun Storage, and fully funded Office of School Safety. Our only leverage right now is our numbers and our loud voices. So add your voice and swell our numbers!

The last item on our "shopping list" for the rally and march shows our recognition that serious gun legislation means that we need legislators who support sensible gun safety laws. By now, it's clear that such legislators cannot be elected because of our highly partisan, rigged election maps. Thus, the next action you need to attend is the North Shore Fair Maps meeting on Zoom on Monday, September 11 from 7 - 8:30pm. As you probably know, two lawsuits are awaiting the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision on whether to consider the cases. On August 2, Law Forward, a pro-democracy nonprofit, filed a petition asking SCOWIS to hear Clarke v WEC challenging the gerrymandered state legislative maps on the grounds that the current maps violate the Wisconsin Constitution. Dan Lenz and T. R. Edwards from Law Forward will discuss the status and future of Clarke v WEC. You can read about the suit on the organization's website.

September 19 is National Voter Registration Day. Activities to register new voters will be occurring all over Wisconsin and the nation. You can pitch in locally in one of two ways.

(1) Supermarket Legends is hosting a big voter registration effort on the UW Milwaukee campus with tables in the union, Sandburg and Cambridge Commons (two dormitories) and the library. The Legends need 17 - 20 volunteers to staff all the tables in these locations. According to a Brookings analysis of the 2022 midterm votes, "young people (18 to 29 years old), especially young women, drove the Democratic advantage." The importance of registering and motivating younger voters cannot be overstated. As the Washington Post noted, "Youth turnout in some campus wards [for the April 4, 2023, election] was near that of November’s midterms, with voters largely casting their ballots for Protasiewicz." To sign up, simply email Sue Schneidler and indicate whether you prefer morning, afternoon, or either. Supermarket Legends has great printed material to help you register the UWM students. For more information, contact Norma Gilson.

(2) League of Women Voters: Voter Services is planning a number of voter registration events on National Voter Registration Day. The League needs volunteers for some of these events:

  • a voter registration event at four libraries in Milwaukee County and one library in Waukesha County;
  • a voter registration event at UW Waukesha;
  • voter registration events at five MPS schools;
  • supporting voter registration events at Gateway in Walworth County and Gateway in Racine County.

If you are interested in training to qualify for the high schools, please contact Leigh Ann Tidey or Judy Winn.

Canvassing will also be taking place on September 23 in Glendale, with shifts beginning at noon and at 3pm, and in a few other nearby locations (see the events list below). Why, you might wonder? The goal of much canvassing is to motivate voters and to get out the vote. These canvasses are quite different. Their goal is to listen to citizens articulate their chief concerns — kind of a fact-finding mission. The information people provide helps campaigns figure out what issues to emphasize with which potential voters and what kinds of messages to craft around those issues.

In its article Wisconsin fake Trump electors case to proceed to trial next year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Dane Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington denied a "motion to dismiss claims alleging that the 10 Wisconsin Republicans and two attorneys who advised them broke multiple laws, including impersonating a public official, public nuisance and engaging in conspiracy." Ensuring that so-called "contested states," including Wisconsin, create fraudulent electors is prominently cited in special counsel Jack Smith's indictment against Trump. "Federal prosecutors heavily cite the actions of the slate of 10 Republican electors [in Wisconsin] who gathered at the state Capitol in December 2020 to sign documents declaring Trump the winner on the same day Democratic electors cast the state’s Electoral College votes for Joe Biden." It's important to know that the legal action in Wisconsin is a civil, not a criminal, complaint. In that respect it fundamentally differs from the Michigan Attorney General's indictment of the fake electors in that state. The article states that the plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case are seeking substantial monetary damages. The case is scheduled for trial in September 3, 2024.

The worst of the COVID-19 epidemic is behind us, but a new variant, BA.2.86, has a lot of mutations and could mean that the virus can more easily evade immune responses acquired through vaccinations and/or earlier cases. According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (August 31), A highly mutated COVID-19 strain has infectious disease experts worried. It's not been found in Wisconsin - yet. While it is not clear whether the newest vaccine, which should be available this month, will be as effective against the new variant as previous vaccines have been against older strains, "the CDC believes the new COVID-19 vaccine will be effective at reducing severe disease and hospitalization." Ajay Sethi, professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, recommends that everyone undertake a personal risk assessment and be vigilant about the circulation of the disease.

Summer's over. Time to get to work!

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What we MUST do

Another hate crime. Three more Black victims. This time in a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida. A 21 year old, White, hate-filled man. A Glock and an AR-15 style rifle purchased legally.

After each new horrible, previously unthinkable mass shooting, we ask ourselves “But what can we do?” The only thing we can do: HOLD OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE and DEMAND that they pass legislation that will make our schools and communities safe. We've had enough of their “thoughts and prayers.” Instead, we demand laws to protect us from dangerous people and their guns. Join Grassroots North Shore and partner organizations — WAVE, Moms Demand Action, and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence — in a rally and march calling for our legislature to pass sensible gun safety legislation now.

The rally — on Sunday, September 10, at 12:30 at North Point Water Tower Park (on Lake Drive between E North Avenue and Wyoming Place) — features speakers from our partner organizations, from students, and from Senator LaTonya Johnson. And we'll march up E North Avenue to Murray Avenue and back to the park carrying signs to amplify our voices. At the park we'll hand out postcards with our message printed on them to send to legislators. You'll fill out the addresses of your senater and representative; we'll apply stamps and mail them. So take action: raise your voices and come to the Keep Our Kids Safe at School rally and march.

The day after we gather to advocate for common sense gun safety laws, North Shore Fair Maps will hold an online meeting (on Monday, September 11, from 7pm to 8:30pm) to hear from Law Forward about the redistricting case the organization filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWIS). There's another case on gerrymandering also. "Madison-based law firm Boardman Clark has teamed with lawyers from Washington, D.C. to sue the Wisconsin Elections Commission over the maps," the Cap Times revealed. This second suit "was filed on behalf of a group of 'mathematicians, statisticians and computer scientists who believe in fair districting and believe that their disciplines are helpful in drawing fair maps,'" Sam Hirsch, a lawyer with the D.C. firm, explained. It argues that the SCOWIS ruling adopting the maps passed by the GOP legislature violates the state's Separation of Powers Doctrine "because the court 'effectively put themselves in the role of the Legislature that didn't have enough votes to override the [Governor Evers's] veto and gave them enough votes to do so.'"

Tied up with the thorny gerrymandering issue, though, is the MAGA GOP threat to impeach Justice Protasiewicz for failing to recuse herself from these cases. At the heart of the matter are statements the justice made during the campaign, statements that allegedly show she's "prejudging" cases, presumably about gerrymandering and abortion rights. Yesterday PBS Wisconsin published What are the prospects of Wisconsin Republicans impeaching Protasiewicz?. The article provides important information about the circumstances under which impeachment is permissible: "public officials can only be impeached for corruption or crime." It also analyzes the political dynamics that might ensue should the Assembly in fact impeach her.

Our local paper of record, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is like the dog that didn't bark. I say that because I've seen no coverage in it of Benedict Donald's trials and tribulations yesterday. Two hearings, one on Jack Smith's election denial case and the other on the Mark Meadows hearing to remove his case from state to federal court, occurred at the same time yesterday. And they blanketed the national news. Judge Chutkan set a March 4, 2024, trial date in the federal elections case charging Boss Tweet with four felony counts. And in case you missed it, the Washington Post has published an analysis of the Meadows hearing: Mark Meadows struggles to distance himself from Trump’s plot. The hearing included testimony from Meadows, a risky and possibly ill-advised maneuver. He appears to have considerable memory loss but the prosecution came well prepared. The article notes that "one lesson from the proceedings is that Trump’s co-defendants are going to struggle to distance themselves from the alleged conspiracy."

The 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, commemorated over the weekend by a much smaller march, got scant coverage on Sunday, but Jamelle Bouie devoted his op-ed piece today to reminding us that it was really the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, with a far more expansive vision for society than formal equality under the law. The march wasn’t a demand for a more inclusive arrangement under the umbrella of postwar American liberalism, as it might seem today. It was a demand for something more — for a social democracy of equals, grounded in the long Black American struggle to realize the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the potential of Reconstruction." We need to remember that when MLK was assassinated in Memphis, he went to support city sanitation workers in their struggle for equal pay and equal treatment from the city that employed them.

Going to our rally/march and/or tuning in to the North Shore Fair Maps meeting on the gerrymander lawsuits are not the only ways to stay engaged with the issues that matter most. Vote Forward recently launched their issue focused campaigns. Have a look at their instructions and guidance for participating. "In these campaigns, we are sending 'please vote' letters to young voters with messages focused on specific critical issues: either reproductive rights, climate change, or gun violence prevention. The messages we write in these letters will focus on these issues as a way to motivate young voters in Virginia to turn out in their state legislative elections this year." The election in Virginia will take place in November.

On the local front, especially for all of you who live in Ozaukee County, don't miss the "There's No Stopping Us Now" event to support the Democratic Party of Ozaukee County. It's on Thursday, September 14, from 5 to 8:30pm at Shully's in Thiensville. There's more information about the price of tickets in the events list. But you can click right here to buy yours. (Also —hint, hint) Oz county is where we can have the greatest impact!)

Hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day weekend. You'll hear from me next, as they say, on the other side.

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First and Fourteenth Amendments in play

Now with four Dirty Don indictments filed, the action turns to the arraignment of the 19 people charged in the Fulton County case and the crowded trial and primary schedule ahead. While we're waiting for the next bunch of shoes to drop, you really should read the Fulton County indictment. It is fairly long, though, so in case you don't have the time or the patience to get through it all, Josh Kovensky, an investigative reporter for Talking Points Memo, published The 6 Interlocking Schemes Fani Willis Is Trying To Make Stick To Teflon Don to help us make sense of what is otherwise a pretty sprawling story. Here is a list of the six:

  1. Creating fake electors across the country
  2. Asking lawmakers to commit a crime
  3. Asking Georgia election officials to commit a crime
  4. Asking federal officials to commit a crime
  5. Sidney Powell’s voting machine caper
  6. Harassing Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman

In my view "asking" is simply a weaker version of what was really going on, namely soliciting.

The Tangerine Palpatine is not necessarily charged with every one of these, but he doesn't have to be. It is sufficient that every scheme advanced the common purpose all the folks indicted shared. Together the 41 charges make up the full conspiracy and support the overarching RICO charge. For Butternut Berlusconi, the total criminal charges from the four criminal indictments add up to 91! So, can he slither out of each and every one? And can he keep himself out of pre-trial detention. We shall see.

This week has seen a number of interviews and articles examining the question of whether TFG has disqualified himself from holding any state or federal office by engaging in and/or aiding and abetting an insurrection or rebellion. Former judge of the Fourth Circuit Court Appeals Michael Luttig and renowned constitutional scholar and emeritus professor at Harvard Law School Lawrence Tribe teamed up to write The Constitution Prohibits Trump From Ever Being President Again for the August 19 edition of The Atlantic. The authors carefully examine the language of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, focusing on whether the language of insurrection or rebellion properly applies to the totality of the efforts to overturn the election. As the title of the piece indicates, they answer the question affirmatively. On Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, Asa Hutchinson, current candidate for the Republican nomination for president and former governor of Arkansas, concurred. Talking Points Memo has a good article on this issue too.

Exactly how section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment can be legally enforced is a matter of some concern. Ned Foley, on Election Law Blog asks Do Voters Have a "Right" that Trump Be on the Ballot? Part of the inquiry about the means to disqualify a specific person or candidate hangs on timing. Thus Foley differentiates between the primary's voters and the general election's voters, writing that "in our electoral system, there is no 'right' belonging to voters to have their preferred candidate be eligible to participate in a political party’s primary." That is, even if Republican primary voters choose Trumpelthinskin, "the political party itself, given its First Amendment rights, can disqualify individuals from being its nominee" at pretty much any point in the calendar. Foley argues that if the the Supreme Court were to make a definitive ruling before the general election begins, the party would simply have to come up with another candidate. Exactly how would be up to the party itself to decide. That assumes, of course, that SCOTUS find TRE45ON in fact disqualified to hold any office by virtue of section 3.

In Wisconsin, the Attorney General has apparently decided not to investigate or indict the false MAGA electors, but Judge Frank Remington ruled that the 10 real electors for President Biden suing the pretend ones "met their burden to move forward with the civil suit." The plaintiffs are "seeking $2.4 million in damages from a dozen people who participated in an effort to falsely cast Wisconsin’s 2020 electoral votes." See the story at Battleground Wisconsin.

Lately, First Amendment issues have been surfacing a lot. Cheeto Benito's lawyers are signaling that issues of free speech are likely to form at least a part of his defense both in the D.C. case about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the Fulton County RICO case on the same matter. But it has been showing up in other recent events too. A small town newspaper in Kansas was raided by police (possibly leading to the death of its 98 year old publisher). The police seized computers, records, and cellphones. The raid may well have broken the law, some experts have said.

The role of local news investigations is especially fraught now. Here's a story from Wisconsin that highlights the way some are seeking to bankrupt media outlets. Report on Anti-Gay Slur Could Put Local News Site Out of Business: "As politicians have grown more comfortable condemning media outlets they view as hostile — banning reporters from covering events, attacking them on social media, accusing them of being an 'enemy of the people' — some public officials have started using the legal system as a way of hitting back. . . .  The Wisconsin case, First Amendment experts warned, shows how a single defamation suit can become a cudgel against the media in a way the law never intended. For small local news organizations, many of which are barely getting by financially, the suits threaten to put them out of business."

- - - TAKE ACTION - - -

Here's the place where I call your attention to actions you can take now and in the near future. First up is a rally of progressives and unions to make our voices heard from 3pm to 7pm before the August 23rd Republican Presidential Debate in Milwaukee. The Cowardly Lyin' is giving it his little middle finger of course, but there may well be national press looking for some alternative programming to include in their debate coverage. Join the crowd at NO Studios (1037 W McKinley Ave, Milwaukee) and stand with partners and allies from WI and other states and with Democratic Party leaders to claim our space. Let the organizers know you're coming!

After the rally, at 7:15 on Thursday, August 23, Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison is hosting a reception (and fundraiser for President Biden). The event will also feature DNC Secretary Jason Rae and DNC Member Alex Lasry. This is a great opportunity to hear about the 2024 campaign from leaders of the Democratic Party and to support President Biden and Vice President Harris for re-election. You can go to the union-organized Tailgate event and then watch the debate with the Democratic Party honchos! Who wants to miss that! Contribute and sign up.

The Democrats' Fall Regional Trainings: Our organizing team is planning to host in person volunteer trainings across the state this September/October where team leaders and county party leaders can come together to share best practices and learn from each other. We would likely host this training in Milwaukee. We are hoping to gauge interest in whether attendees would be interested in an in person training or a virtual training with teams/counties who have similar features. Please fill out a survey to let the Dems know what you are interested in.

A number of states are having important off-year elections, mostly for local and some state offices. More or less like Wisconsin's April elections but conducted in the odd-numbered years between congressional or presidential contests. You can help get voters to turn out in these states by signing up with Postcards to Swing States. You can purchase progressive postcards online from ProShop here. Activate America is organizing postcards to several congressional and senate districts to urge voters to get behind candidates who support gun safety legislation. If that strikes your fancy, you can sign up here. To give you some idea of the organization's reach, Activate America participants sent over 610,000 for Janet Protasiewicz's election in April 2023!

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when a big NO means a big YES

The results are in. Protecting direct democracy, and implicitly protecting a woman's right to control her own body and medical decisions, had its day in the court of public opinion. The good people of Ohio soundly defeated — 57% to 43% — a referendum to raise the threshold to pass a constitutional amendment in that state from 50%+1 to 60%. Although the referendum sought to undermine the power of citizens to amend the state constitution, the Secretary of State, Frank LaRose, made explicit the connection to preventing passage of a pro-choice amendment that will appear on Ohioan's ballots in November. Voting NO on the referendum concocted by Ohio's MAGAist legislature really signified an enthusiastic YES for the democratic principle of majority rule. Philip Bump in the Washington Post has a good analysis in 4 takeaways from rejection of Issue 1 in the Ohio special election.

In Wisconsin, four Supreme Court justices proposed a new set of rules for the court over the strenuous objections of the Chief Justice, Annette Ziegler. The new rules will reduce the role and power of the Chief Justice by establishing a committee to undertake many of the administrative functions the Chief Justice now handles. And the day Justice Protasiewicz was sworn in, the "new four-justice majority last week fired the state court administrator," Randy Koschnick. According to an article discussing the various changes the new majority is proposing, "The firing seemed to honor former Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, a beloved mentor to the four justices pushing for change." Urban Milwaukee has the full story.

Before turning our attention to the legal travails of Mango Mussolini, aka TFG (the former guy but also The F***ing Grifter), here are a few important announcements.

First, last chance to claim a black sweater found at the Grassroots North Shore event on July 9 in Doctors Park. It's a Chico’s Size 1 Black Rayon/Polyester Sweater. If this belongs to you, please email Ginny Goode or call her at (414) 460-5686.

Second, the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County is still seeking volunteers to staff the booth at the State Fair. Here are the shifts they are seeking to fill:

  • Wednesday, August 9th from 6-9PM
  • Thursday, August 10th from 10AM-2PM and 6-9PM
  • Friday, August 11th from 10AM-2PM
  • Saturday, August 12th from 10AM-2PM and 6-9PM
  • Sunday, August 13th from 10AM-2PM

Sign up. Contact Mary Jonker, 262-497-4672, for questions.

Finally, Don't miss this DEBUT NOVEL by a North Shore Politico. You may remember Deborah Hufford, former Whitefish Bay Democratic activist and ward captain, who shook up Northshore politics nearly 20 years ago, when she rallied Whitefish Bay to turn blue after voting Republican since its incorporation in 1892. Whitefish Bay has never turned back! Deborah was instrumental in founding Grassroots Northshore in 2004. Although she continues to be politically active, she has turned her attention to writing historical novels that have a social injustice theme. Her novel — BLOOD TO RUBIES — is a sweeping tale of a young frontier photographer who goes West to escape the Civil War draft and is caught between colliding worlds of love and war during Chief Joseph's Nez Perce War of 1877. You can order the book through Amazon, all bookstores, or her author site. A portion of her book sales will go to the Chief Joseph Foundation that mentors Nez Perce youth, many of whom are direct descendants of Chief Joseph or his band members.

And now back to our regularly scheduled feature: the legal travails of Tangerine Palpatine, Dolt 45, the Commander in Cheese, Butternut Berlusconi, The Big Lie-bowski (complements of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert); or (from Action Network) Don the Con, Dirty Don, Agent Orange, Benedict Donald; or finally (from 409 Hilarious Nicknames for Donald Trump) Adolf Twitler, Barbecued Brutus, Boss Tweet, Cheeto Benito, Groper-in-Chief, Mr. Wiggy Piggy, Orange Julius, The Cowardly Lyin’, and Trumpelthinskin.

Whatever you call him, he's in big doo-doo. Special counsel Jack Smith has asked Judge Chutkan to issue a protective order to prohibit Don the Con from making public — by speaking, by social media, or by any other means — any of the evidence he and his lawyers acquire through the discovery process. Naturally, Dolt 45's lawyers objected and wanted a hearing. Judge Chutkan agreed to schedule a hearing but specified that it had to take place this week. Cheeto Benito's lawyers wanted it to take place next week (stall and delay being the order of the day). Judge Chutkan scheduled it for Friday, August 11, at 10am EDT. For the full back-and-forth, see Judge orders hearing after Trump's lawyers say proposed protective order would infringe on Trump's free speech.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Judge Cannon is lost at sea again. This issue is pretty deeply down in the legal weeds, but is nevertheless important to understand. Here's what she did: "Cannon questioned the 'legal propriety' of using an 'out-of-district grand jury' in Trump’s classified documents case" (DAILY BEAST, August 7, 2023). A group of well-known lawyers and legal pundits were, shall we say, flabbergasted. Vanity Fair offers a collection of these responses. (Warning: some of the links in the paragraph are behind paywalls and others connect to what we used to call "tweets." I've included the links to accurately represent the quotation from Vanity Fair.)

“Judge Cannon clearly shows her ignorance (bias? both?),” former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann wrote on Twitter. “The obstruction crimes that were investigated are charges that could have been brought in FLA or in DC and thus could be investigated in either district.” Constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe—who in September remarked that the judge was “in the tank for Trump”—echoed that Cannon “continues her dopey and constitutionally dubious usurpation of the executive branch’s investigative and prosecutorial prerogatives.” Former US attorney Joyce White Vance noted that Cannon’s actions “may tee up the issue of her fitness on the case.” Former prosecutor Glenn Kirschner opined, of Monday’s proceedings: “This has the feel of Judge Cannon acting as an advocate for the defense. Guess no one can accuse her of learning her lesson from the appellate court’s prior ruling that she abused her discretion & acted lawlessly to the extreme benefit of Trump.” (Cannon had key aspects of her Trump-related rulings overturned by an appellate court last year in a truly scathing decision.) Writing that Cannon “tried to sabotage this case at the outset,” Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern said he remains “extremely skeptical that she will permit a fair trial to take place.”

You can watch Andrew Weissmann's critique of Judge Cannon's questioning of the use of two different grand juries in two different jurisdictions. He explains that she fundamentally misunderstands the issues which are pretty much covered in law school 101.

As for the Fulton County matter, it is still pending even though there's been more breathless speculation that indictments could be issued any day now. Or next week? There's plenty of evidence that the county is expecting something big and exciting at the courthouse because barriers to the building have recently been erected and streets surrounding the courthouse have been blocked off. See Fox 5 Atlanta for a recent account.


Wednesday, August 9

WisDems Training for Volunteer Recruitment: 1-on-1s, High Traffic Canvassing, Phone Calls & Events, 6:00pm

These trainings are open to any team member, volunteers or county party members so feel free to share the calendar with them. Sign up for this training. See the full calendar of future trainings.

Thursday, August 10

BYOP Textbanking - Register Dems in swing states! 1:00 - 2:00pm CDT

We might have cracked the nut on how to do free texting! Instead of raising money to pay for expensive, easy to use texting software, we're making texting available using slightly awkward, but still pretty easy technology. We're calling it BYOP or Bring Your Own Phone. And it's a GREAT new way to register new Dems in swing states and districts to hold the White House and Senate and flip the House in 2024 as well as win governorships and state legislatures in 2023!

You will need to set two things up on your computer before attending our BYOP Boot Camp. This document gives links to both items.

  1. You need an ActionID. You may already have one if you phone or text banked with Field Team 6 in the past.
  2. You need texting software that allows you to send text messages directly from your computer, using your cell phone carrier’s plan.

When you have both items ready, please register for Boot Camp!

Friday, August 11

League of Progressive Seniors Planning for 8/23 Action, 11:30am - 12:30pm
The Knickerbocker on the Lake, 1028 E Juneau Ave, Milwaukee

The League is planning an event to coincide with the first Republican presidential debate on August 23 in Milwaukee. Bring a sandwich. The League will have beverages and snacks. Help plan the logistics for the event.

Monday, August 14

North Shore Fair Maps, 7:00 - 8:30pm

Former US Senator (WI) Russ Feingold, president of the American Constitution Society on The Constitution in Jeopardy. What is an Article V Convention? Why is it dangerous? And is it true Wisconsin was the 16th state to sign on to the idea? Yup, thanks to our gerrymandered legislature. You should be worried about a new Constitutional Convention. If you're not, you certainly will be after you check out this Facebook page. RSVP HERE.

Wednesday, August 16

WisDems Communications & Messaging Training: Tailoring messaging to your local area, 6:00pm

These trainings are open to any team member, volunteers or county party members so feel free to share the calendar with them. Sign up for this training. See the full calendar of future trainings.

Ozaukee County Dems Monthly Meeting, 7:00 - 8:00pm
Ozaukee Democrats Office, 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, August 19

WisDems Canvass in Bay View! 9:00am - 12:00pm, 12:00 - 3:00pm, 3:00 - 6:00pm
Address upon sign-up

Our friends at Swing Left Milwaukee are working closely with WisDems on bridge building canvasses this summer and fall. Join the group for a weekend of action on August 19-20, where they'll be talking to voters we don't have as much data on yet – which will be crucial to laying the groundwork for 2024. Sign up for a shift with Dale's team in Bay View! Can't make it this time? Join Swing Left Milwaukee's group listserv to stay in the loop on future ways to get involved with voter registration, canvassing, phone banking, letter writing, and texting. Work with fellow activists across the border in Illinois and around the country to support actions like the ballot initiative in Ohio, which will help determine the future of women’s right to choose In Ohio. For more information contact Dale Nook, 414-690-0311.

Grassroots North Shore Poster Party, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave, Shorewood

In preparation for the September 10 rally and march to Keep Our Kids Safe at School, we're holding a Poster Party to make signs people can hold during the event. We'll be at the Shorewood Library. Village Meeting Room (lower level) at 10am. Even if you cannot attend on September 10th - others can carry your message — come create posters. See you at the party!

Grassroots Glendale Deep Canvassing, 12:00 - 3:00pm
6563 N Crestwood Dr, Glendale

Join Grassroots Glendale to knock doors and talk to voters about the issues that matter most to them! Sign up.

Fox Point/Bayside Dems Friendbank, 12:00 - 3:00pm, 3:00 - 6:00pm
7632 N Beach Dr, Fox Point</span
Join the Fox Point/Bayside team for a friendbank! We will be getting together and texting our networks to learn about their top issues using the Reach app for relational organizing. Never even heard of Reach? No problem! Our organizer will walk you through everything you need to know before you start texting. It is never too early to engage our circles in progressive politics and ensure that we elect Democrats up and down the ballot in 2024! Sign up.

Sunday, August 20

WisDems Canvass in Bay View! 9:00am - 12:00pm, 12:00 - 3:00pm, 3:00 - 6:00pm
Address upon sign-up

Our friends at Swing Left Milwaukee are working closely with WisDems on bridge building canvasses this summer and fall. Join the group for a weekend of action on August 19-20, where they'll be talking to voters we don't have as much data on yet – which will be crucial to laying the groundwork for 2024. Sign up for a shift with Dale's team in Bay View! Can't make it this time? Join Swing Left Milwaukee's group listserv to stay in the loop on future ways to get involved with voter registration, canvassing, phone banking, letter writing, and texting. Work with fellow activists across the border in Illinois and around the country to support actions like the ballot initiative in Ohio, which will help determine the future of women’s right to choose In Ohio. For more information contact Dale Nook, 414-690-0311.

Fox Point/Bayside Dems Friendbank, 12:00 - 3:00pm, 3:00 - 6:00pm
7632 N Beach Dr, Fox Point</span
Join the Fox Point/Bayside team for a friendbank! We will be getting together and texting our networks to learn about their top issues using the Reach app for relational organizing. Never even heard of Reach? No problem! Our organizer will walk you through everything you need to know before you start texting. It is never too early to engage our circles in progressive politics and ensure that we elect Democrats up and down the ballot in 2024! Sign up.

Grassroots Glendale Deep Canvassing, 12:00 - 3:00pm, 3:00 - 6:00pm
6563 N Crestwood Dr, Glendale

Join Grassroots Glendale to knock doors and talk to voters about the issues that matter most to them! Sign up.

Monday, August 21

Milwaukee County Dems Monthly Meeting 6:00pm
J&B's Blue Ribbon, 5230 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee

Join us for our regularly scheduled monthly meeting, where we discuss party business and hear from Democratic candidates. RSVP.


Tuesday, August 29 through Tuesday, September 26

WISDOM 5 Week Fall Training Series, every Tuesday from 6:30 - 8:00pm

Please join us for our 5-week Fall Training Series every Tuesday night from August 29-September 26. We are excited to cover a variety of topics about community organizing. Whether you're a new WISDOM member, an old timer or need a refresher - we welcome you to come learn from our leaders within our network! Once you register, you will recieve your Zoom information within a few minutes. It is the same Zoom link for all 5 sessions. You can choose to attend one or all sessions. If you have any questions please contact Amanda Ali, WISDOM's Digital Organizer.

Wednesday, August 30 - Tuesday, September 5

The Golden Rule, an historic sailboat, docks in Milwaukee
The Golden Rule, a storied sailboat that helped bring about an end to atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, will stop in Milwaukee Aug 31 - Sep 5 as part of a 15-month, 11,000-mile voyage to inform and educate the public about the dangers of nuclear weapons proliferation. A number of public events will be held, and speakers / crew members will be available for presentations at schools, churches or other venues during the four-day visit. Boat tours and visits with the crew will be offered every afternoon. (See a real-time map of the boat's journey.) The Golden Rule is a project of Veterans For Peace.

Saturday, September 9

Wisconsin Coalitions Candidate Summit, 9:00am - 4:00pm
Location TBD, Milwaukee

The National Democratic Training Committee — in partnership with WisDems and their Coalitions (Bleck, Native American, Pride, Latino), Wisconsin Progress, Emerge Wisconsin, Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Committee, and Assembly Democrats — is offering an in-person event designed for candidates of color and LGBTQIA+ candidates. This summit will prepare you for your run for office and provide you with the tools you’ll use from now to Election Day! During this full-day training, you’ll:

  • Build the foundational skills needed to run a successful campaign as an LGBTQIA+ candidate or candidate of color
  • Learn from campaign experts and gain key insight to guide your efforts in 2023 Connect with leaders from your community across Wisconsin to network, support, and learn from each other’s work
  • Understand how to access on-going resources to support your goals

Not a member of one of these communities? Fill out our candidate interest form to stay in the loop about other training and resource opportunities.

Sunday, September 10

Keeping Our Kids Safe at School Rally, 12:30pm
North Point Water Tower Park, 2288 N Lake Dr, Milwaukee

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER SHOOTING: After each new horrible mass school shooting, we ask ourselves “how can we demand that our elected officials pass common sense gun safety legislation?” If you’re tired of hearing about “thoughts and prayers” as if they were solutions, join Grassroots North Shore together with WAVE, Moms Demand Action, and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, at a rally on Sunday, September 10th, at 12:30, at North Point Water Tower Park. State Senator LaTonya Johnson and speakers from WAVE, Moms Demand Action, students, and Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence will fill us in on upcoming Lobby Days and recently introduced legislation. We’ll briefly march along North Avenue to Murray Avenue and then loop back to hear our speakers. After that, you can address already printed postcards to your legislators. We will stamp and mail them. RSVP.

In preparation for the September 10 rally and march to Keep Our Kids Safe at School, we're holding a Poster Party to make signs people can hold during the event. We'll be at the Shorewood Library, Village Meeting Room (lower level) at 10am - 12pm. Even if you cannot attend on September 10th - others can carry your message — come create posters. See you at the party!

Monday, September 11

It's the Maps, stupid! 7:00 - 8:30pm

There has already been movement on maps! Law Forward and several partners have filed a petition at the Supreme Court of Wisconsin "to take jurisdiction of an original action to challenge the gerrymandered state legislative maps." (See the press conference here.) And there may be other pressing legal issues we will want to know about. If so, our friends at Law Forward will explain it all to us. RSVP.

Thursday, September 14

No Stopping Us Now (Oz Dems Annual Gala), 5:00 - 8:30pm
Shully's Cuisine and Events, 146 Green Bay Road, Thiensville

Join us at our 5th annual FUNdraiser at Shully’s. Your ticket will include hor devours, dinner, dessert, and entertainment. The guest speakers will inspire, the auction will be good fun, and great people – like you – will make it fun. We hope you’ll attend and bring a friend! More details in the near future.

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time for a breather...not!

The news biz went crazy both with the TFG's announcement of a target letter setting him up for indictments in his multiple efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and with the superseding indictment in the documents case. It seemed like all they could talk about for the last week and more. But we do not have to follow suit. If you want a more fulsome explanation of one of the elements in the target letter — the one that mentions 18 U. S. C. section 241 — you might want to read An Overlooked January 6 Charge: The “Stop the Count” Scheme by Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann on the Just Security site. The piece looks at how the Justice Department has used the charge in the past and how it applies to the current inquiry.

I would rather look more carefully at the voting patterns from the special election for AD 24. It's a bit of an exercise in reading tea leaves: with the low turnout, it does not necessarily translate into highly likely predictions for the future. But it still shows gains in some of the redder areas of our state. In an email to supporters, Bob Tatterson pointed out that although he lost the overall election (though only by 7%), he did win five of the seven communities in the district. And it's true! He won the Village of Grafton, Mequon, and Menomonee Falls, as well as the Town of Germantown and the one ward of Port Washington in the district. That Port Washington ward is my favorite: there were all of 2 voters and BOTH voted for Bob! I've compiled all the data so you can look at it yourself. Download a pdf of the spreadsheet.

Democrats have made steady gains in the WOW counties in the last several elections. The results from the special election continue that trend. In last week's newsletter, Ben Wikler linked to what we used to call a tweet by Anthony Chergosky, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Chergosky points out that the "district was Trump +24 in 2016, Trump +17 in 2020, and Melotik (the GOP candidate) +7 today." As I said in the last paragraph, comparisons with past elections as a way to understand the political landscape may be skewed by the lighter-than-average turnout. For a special election in the middle of summer, though, the turnout was more robust than expected: in the mid-to-high 20s in three communities in Waukesha and Washington counties and in the mid-30s in the Ozaukee county communities. (Port Washington's one ward, of course, had a turnout of 100%! I'm not counting that as a realistic view of what the future holds.) That trend is an excellent reason not to take too long a break from working toward future elections. The Democratic party is certainly not resting for long. They've scheduled deep canvassing events for at least one weekend a month through November. You'll find the first of these in the North Shore in the Events list.

Deep canvassing is a way of holding conversations with voters when there's no election in the offing and the goal is to elicit voters' concerns. The technique was first developed in 2012 and has been studied since then. Professors David Broockman and Josh Kalla have conducted six studies and "have found that deep canvassing does have measurable effects" (See Deep Canvassing in Wikipedia). For a readable, non-academic account, see Andy Kroll's article Can Millions of Deep Conversations With Total Strangers Beat Trump — and Heal America? in Rolling Stone (July 15, 2020). I'm told the group of voters the party wants to contact have been somewhat neglected of late. And this is a good way to expand the pool of likely voters for 2024. So look for the opportunities near you and sign up for a shift.

Our friends at Swing Left Milwaukee are working closely with WisDems on bridge building canvasses this summer and fall. You can join their group for a weekend of action on August 19-20, where they'll be talking to voters we don't have as much data on yet – which will be crucial to laying the groundwork for 2024. If you can't make it this time but you're interested in working in Bay View or other city areas, join Swing Left Milwaukee's group email list to stay in the loop on future ways to get involved with voter registration, canvassing, phone banking, letter writing, and texting. Please sign up if you'd like to try it in Bay View. For more information, contact Dale Nook, 414-690-0311.

And in joyous news, Judge Janet Protasiewicz becomes Justice Janet Protasiewicz today. The investiture ceremony is completely booked, unfortunately. So if you have not already RSVP'd, it's too late. But even if you can't watch her "fly up" as it were, you know that her presence on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWI) foretells legal rulings that will impact many lives in our state. A lawsuit challenging our partisan voting maps is likely to be filed within days of the investiture. And because the suit basically appeals an earlier SCOWI ruling, it will go directly to the Supreme Court without the lower courts ruling first. If the court is reasonably expeditious, Wisconsin could have new maps — presumably both congressional and state assembly/senate maps — before candidates for those offices will have to begin circulating nomination papers in spring 2024. Election maps that define more competitive districts will begin to reshape the sour politics we have endured in this state since Scott Walker's first election. And wouldn't that be welcome!

A fun blog post on Daily Kos Monday, quotes from the judge who dismissed TFG's suit that argued to quash the report of the Georgia Special Grand Jury and "demanded that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis be barred from prosecuting any cases against him, claiming she is biased." Both the demand to burn the report and to remove D.A. Willis from the case were denied. The footnotes to the opinion are priceless. For example, the blogger notes that in footnote five, the judge uses an idiom — "a blot on an escutcheon" — that derives from the heraldic shield, also known as an escutcheon, and means a stain on one's reputation. The full context of the remark is "in this situation, movants overwrought allegations of prosecutorial overreach and judicial error do not suffice to show there is a significant risk of a ‘wrongful’ indictment (or even a blot on an escutcheon)." On pages 7-8, he quotes this passage: "The drumbeat from the District Attorney has been neither partisan (in the political sense) nor personal, in marked and refreshing contrast to the stream of personal invective flowing from one of the movants." We don't even need to guess who he means.

Finally today, I leave you with this bit of wisdom from Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. By Every Imaginable Measure, Trump Crushing GOP Primary Race. Marshall begins, "the Times is out today with a poll that is absolutely devastating for Ron DeSantis. But in truth it is devastating for every Republican candidate not named Donald Trump. It is only devastating for DeSantis inasmuch as he is the only candidate who appears to be in the race at all rather than running what amounts to a novelty or lifestyle campaign." In a head-to-head comparison of TFG and DeSantis, the poll asks whether a specific word better describes *rump or what Marshall dubs "the Jebbite" candidate (a reference to the Jeb Bush campaign in 2016). DeSantis has his best showing with "likable" and "moral." But Marshal focuses on "fun," unpacking what TFG supporters take it to mean:

This question seems to ask something quite different: who is more fun to watch. It’s a measure of the entertainment factor. That “fun” factor is an anchor of Trump’s support. Another article out this summer captured it in a different way. A central feature of the MAGA movement is how much fun its adherents find in it, this article explained. Indeed, they have a hard time understanding how those outside the movement don’t see it in the same way but rather see it as threatening, dark, ugly. . . .

It’s no accident Trump’s supporters still call him President and don’t believe he legitimately lost power. In a sense he is running as the incumbent. He’s still the leader of the party on that basis. Everything comes into focus when you see it in those terms.

I think Marshall is right on the money. No number of indictments, civil suits, or convictions will derail that candidacy. We need to get and stay busy to defeat him here in Wisconsin.

PS: Someone left a black sweater at the July 9 Grassroots North Shore event at Doctors Park. It's a Chico’s Size 1 Black Rayon/Polyester Sweater. If this belongs to you, please email or call Ginny Goode: [email protected](414) 460-5686. Thank you.


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where we've been and where we're going

Here's a piece of Wisconsin news I bet you didn't know. Last Thursday, July 20, the Elias Law Group — "a mission-driven firm committed to helping Democrats win, citizens vote, and progressives make change" — filed a lawsuit to "once again allow voters to return absentee ballots in drop boxes, a practice that was barred by the state Supreme Court last year following criticism by former President Donald Trump." The suit filed against the Wisconsin Elections Commission will begin in Dane County circuit court but is probably destined to end up at the Wisconsin Supreme Court. It argues that barring drop boxes "severely burdens the right to vote." It also argues that a requirement that absentee ballots be signed by a witness also constrains voting illegally. The AP has the story.

Of course the make-up of the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWI) is about to change in a way that may make a difference to a host of voting rights and laws governing elections. Justice Janet Protaseiwicz will be invested on Tuesday, August 1, at 4:30pm in the State Capitol. She's been a great friend of Grassroots North Shore. She even showed up for our event in Doctors Park on Sunday, July 9. So the least we can do for her is to show up in Madison to cheer her on. You can RSVP for the investiture and the reception that will be held on Monona Terrace. I hope a few of you, at least, will make it.

As you no doubt know by now, Bob Tatterson was defeated in the special election for Assembly District 24 last week. This election was always going to be a tough one, dependent on our ability to turn out our voters and hoping that the opposition would kind of sleep through this one. But there are some incredibly bright spots in the data. As Ben Wikler wrote in his Weekly News email, there are three great reasons to celebrate Bob's loss. First, Wikler links to a Twitter post by Anthony Chergosky (whom I've never heard of): "The GOP held this Assembly seat in a special election today, but this is another data point showing the shifts in the suburban WOW counties of Wisconsin. The district was Trump +24 in 2016, Trump +17 in 2020, and Melotik (the GOP candidate) +7 today." Wikler's second reason looks to future elections because the extensive canvassing the Democrats accomplished "found people who rarely vote, but when they do, they vote for Democrats" and also "found people who used to vote Republican, but now feel that the GOP has gone off the deep end." The third reason is so far just a hope: that what he terms "cartoonishly rigged district lines may be redrawn before the elections in 2024." If that happens and the result is even a somewhat competitive district, I'm betting Bob will run again. AND WIN!

Meanwhile, in Michigan legal news, the 16 fraudulent "electors" have been indicted on eight felony counts each last week. The charges include "forgery and conspiracy to commit forgery" among others. One of them, Michele Lundgren, claims she was duped. You can see a WDIV 4 news report on YouTube. Lundgren's version is undermined somewhat by the fact that she and three others "appeared at the state Capitol on December 14, 2020, with then-state Rep. Daire Rendon, who said the 'electors' were there to cast their votes." In the video of the face-off at the state capitol, we can hear several people in the group claiming to be "electors." The indictments in Michigan are the first to accuse any of the fraudulent electors of crimes. Georgia is still investigating but has given eight fake electors immunity deals "in an ongoing criminal investigation into efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election there" (CNN politics, May 5,2023). It's not clear why Attorney General Kaul is not pursuing the matter in Wisconsin.

In another promising development, the Michigan Bureau of Elections — the equivalent of our Wisconsin Elections Commission — has notified the Shelby Township clerk, one Stan Grot, that he is now "prohibited from administering elections" while the felony charges stemming from his participation in the fake electors scheme are still pending. According to the AP, "conducting elections is one of the primary duties of a clerk. Grot is an elected official and will continue in his other roles as township clerk, such as preparing agendas and recording meetings." And Grot is not alone. Tina Peters, a former clerk in Colorado, is accused of trying to "breach voting system technology that is used across the country following the 2020 election." And then there's Couy Griffin, founder of Cowboys for Trump, who was removed from his elected position as a county commissioner for his role in the January 6 insurrection. The case is important because it is so far the only time "an elected official has been removed from office for their participation or support of the US Capitol riot. It also marks the first time a judge has formally ruled that the events of January 6, 2021, were an 'insurrection' (CNN politics, September 6, 2022)."


We should all be luxuriating in this relatively quiet period in Wisconsin, absent any elections until February 20, 2024. That will be the primary for non-partisan positions, like judges, county boards, school boards, village and town boards and the like. The general spring election AND presidential preference primary will be held on April 2. We'll be trying to keep our fingers on the various pulses out there in the meantime. But issue advocacy never ends. And to that end, it's important that as many people as possible stay engaged. One thing you can do is call or write voters in Ohio to urge the defeat of Issue 1 appearing on their ballots on August 8 (two weeks from today). Make calls with various groups by signing up here. Write letters with Vote Forward by signing up on the Vote Forward site.

Another thing you can do, right here in Milwaukee, is attend a planning meeting the League of Progressive Seniors is holding on Friday, July 28, to figure out how to be a "presence" at the first GOP debate here in Milwaukee on August 23. The planning meeting is being held at Knickerbocker Condos, 1028 East Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee, at 11:30am. Come with your ideas. But let Patty Yunk, 414-218-1299, know you're coming so there will be a lunch for you.


Turning to the future, we can already see some worrying things and some really bright spots without even considering the excited pronouncements every day about federal and state indictments coming for TRE45ON any day now. Among the clouds on the horizon: the No Labels organization — in some contexts on some days a political party but on other days just a simple organization proposing various "common sense" ideas. It styles itself as "an insurance policy" and says it should be welcomed as an expansion of choices for Americans. But do not be fooled. While I'm not altogether sure what their end goal is, it's pretty clear that if they manage to get on the ballot in November 2024 in the "swing states" and enough other states, they could make a difference in the outcome.

As many political pundits have warned, though, its Third-Whatever (Party?) is really A Plan that Will Re-elect Trump. Third Way, which is also a centrist group, points out that the No Labels plan is "offering an illusion, not a choice" (March 7, 2023). While No Labels spokespeople and publicity claim that the "moderate independent ticket has a real and viable path to victory," the Third Way folks beg to differ. "Rather than producing a third-party ticket that would defy the overwhelming odds and win, No Labels is on track to field a spoiler who would re-elect Trump or a Trump-like Republican. Problem Solver Democrats, close allies of No Labels, are reported to be 'in open revolt' over their 2024 plans, because it’s so clear they would hurt Democrats and help Trump." The election is still over a year away but it's never too early to recognize danger and to organize to avert it.

In very bright news, two different publications point out that young voters actually vote, unlike many of the generations that came before them. Celinda Lake and Mac Heller write: "2024 won’t be a Trump-Biden replay. You can thank Gen Z for that." They base their prognostication on the demographic changes that have taken place since 2016. So "between Trump’s election in 2016 and the 2024 election, the number of Gen Z (born in the late 1990s and early 2010s) voters will have advanced by a net 52 million against older people. That’s about 20 percent of the total 2020 eligible electorate of 258 million Americans." They go on to show that Gen Z, unlike previous Gens, vote. The Washington Post op-ed is gifted to you, so go ahead and read it all.

More recently "‘This Is a Really Big Deal’: How College Towns Are Decimating the GOP" also looks at younger voters, starting with what happened in Dane County in April. The American Communities Project produces typologies of US counties, among which are 171 counties that are considered college towns.

Of those 171 places, 38 have flipped from red to blue since the 2000 presidential election. Just seven flipped the other way, from blue to red, and typically by smaller margins. Democrats grew their percentage point margins in 117 counties, while 54 counties grew redder. By raw votes, the difference was just as stark: The counties that grew bluer increased their margins by an average of 16,253, while Republicans increased their margins by an average of 4,063.

Back in 2000, the places identified as college towns by ACP voted 48 percent to 47 percent in favor of Al Gore. In the last presidential election, the 25 million who live in those places voted for Joe Biden, 54 percent to 44 percent.

It's no wonder that Cleta Mitchell, a *rump lawyer and MAGA political operative, is urging conservatives to "band together to limit voting on college campuses, same-day voter registration and automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters" (Washington Post, April 20, 2023).

Finally, just a heads up about two initiatives on the horizon: this fall the Democratic Party of Wisconsin will begin some weekend canvasses to reach people the party hasn't talked to recently. The goal, of course, is to expand the Democratic electorate. The party will be doing "deep canvassing," an issue-oriented technique designed to elicit voters' concerns so that they can be addressed. You'll hear more about that from me in coming newsletters. Grassroots North Shore is also considering calling people in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington counties who are being purged from the voter rolls. Our goal is to reach people who want to be registered to vote next year and to help them do what is needed. Keep these two initiatives in mind as you make plans for September, October, and November.

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