No nominee? No problem for groups ready to organize now.
The goal, they say, is to spare the country a second term with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.
In order to do that, members of a new political organizing effort known as Wisconsin Organizing Together say they can’t afford to wait until the Democratic Party picks its nominee in July at the party convention in Milwaukee.
A political campaign needs money, people and time to operate. And while a candidate has a shot at raising more money and finding more supporters to knock on doors, they can’t turn back the clock to give them more time.
With that thought in mind, Organizing Together 2020 has launched efforts in six swing states, including Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
By starting to create a grass-roots network of support now that includes labor unions, progressive organizations and state elected officials, Trump’s Democratic opponent will have an army of volunteers ready to go.
“If you want to get involved, if you want to defeat Donald Trump, we can’t until after we have a nominee to get started,” said Thomas Nelson, Outagamie County Executive and co-chair of Wisconsin Organizing Together 2020. “And if your singular, solitary focus is to defeat Donald Trump, this is where you need to go.”
Along with Nelson, a former state representative, the group is co-chaired by State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski; Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee; Sen. Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire; Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Mason, and Racine Mayor Cory Mason, also a former legislator. Wisconsin Organizing Together 2020 officially launched Friday.
Prior to November’s presidential election, the group will focus on the upcoming Supreme Court election and key school funding referenda on the April 7 ballot.
Godlewski said when she was campaigning in 2016, people often asked where the party had been and why they were just showing up at election time.
“It’s never too early to started,” she said. “When you start early, it gives you the opportunity to go to where people are and listen to them.”
She said she agreed to co-chair Wisconsin Organizing Together because she sees first-hand how Trump’s policies are impacting people. She said Trump’s tax cuts disproportionately favor the wealthy, his trade policies hurt farmers and manufacturers, and his lack of leadership and inconsistent messaging on the coronavirus is now sending the stock market into uncertainty, which is impacting pensions.
The organization will be heavily focused on digital organizing to bring people together. An aid with Organizing Together 2020 said the group will be opening offices in Wisconsin and the other states in upcoming weeks.
“Unlike any other election cycle, people that may have been at odds with one other, everyone is coming together shoulder to shoulder around this effort,” Nelson said. “There is no dissension within the ranks.”
Wisconsin Organizing Together’s senior staff includes Tanya Bjork, a veteran of the last three presidential campaigns in Wisconsin; Peter Drummond, former Central Region Director of the National AFL-CIO; Analiese Eicher, former Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now and current Dane County Board Chair; Collin Steele, former Field Manager for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC); and Nick Truog, who previously worked for Congresswoman Gwen Moore.
“This effort isn’t just about reaching people in Madison and Milwaukee. It’s about reaching people in western Wisconsin, northern Wisconsin and eastern Wisconsin,” Godlewski said. “And as anyone in Wisconsin will tell you, we are better when we work together.”