Dems continue to ignore Wisconsin

Democrats were shocked that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Trump faces steep climb to reelection What the Mueller report tells us about Putin, Russia and Trump's election Steve Bullock puts Citizens United decision at center of presidential push MORE lost Wisconsin by a small margin. Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein pushed for a recount in the state, which confirmed the results. During introspection as to why Hillary Clinton lost the state, staffers from her campaign revealed the terrible campaign strategies implemented there.

Clinton never showed up to campaign in Wisconsin, her campaign over-confident of a victory there. Voter turnout dropped in key counties throughout the state from Obama’s 2012 campaign to Clinton’s in 2016. This enthusiasm deficit was the difference between a loss and a victory in Wisconsin. The Clinton Campaign Wisconsin Office was abandoned by the National Clinton Campaign. They were forced to raise $1 million on their own during the final stretch of the election, as the Clinton Campaign cited she led in Wisconsin in every single poll. Pleas for black surrogates to campaign on Clinton’s behalf in Milwaukee to boost voter turnout were dismissed.

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But rather than learn from these mistakes, the Democratic Party is continuing to ignore Wisconsin. On Tuesday, the deadline passed for a Democrat to file in the April 4 race for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, leaving conservative Annette Ziegler to run unopposed for a ten year term. Of only two statewide races held in Wisconsin on April 4, the Democratic Party has chosen to ignore the most important one, while the other one, the Democratic incumbent in the race for State Superintendent is facing a Republican backed challenger.

Allowing this important statewide race to run unopposed sends a message to voters in Wisconsin that the Democratic Party doesn’t care about them. It doesn’t matter if a Democratic Party challenger would ultimately lose that race. Statewide, Wisconsin is a swing-state, and therefore a battleground for Democrats and Republicans to gain vital ground in the fight for the state’s political orientation. Giving up that fight cedes victory to the Republican Party automatically, and provides Republicans with further momentum with the possibility to swing Wisconsin into a haven as they have done with several states in the South.

Democracy only works if people vote, and nothing will drive voter turnout down more for Democrats than not seeing Democrats on the ballot to vote for. And for the Republican incumbent, it sends the message to them that the Democratic Party won’t bother to hold them accountable to the actions they take in the position they run for unopposed. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in 2015 to end a probe into the recall campaign of Governor Scott Walker (R), and Democrats criticized the conservative justices who sided with Walker. But those criticisms weren’t enough to bother running anyone against their re-election bids.

Abandoning the Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice race passes on the opportunity for a Democrat to raise issues, statewide, that are not being addressed by Republicans, and to pose important questions to the Republican incumbent. Not providing voters with a choice is a surefire losing strategy for Democrats to continue in the long-term.

Michael Sainato is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian and the Huffington Post. Follow him on Twitter @msainat1


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.