Wikler Is New Democratic Party Chair
MoveOn leader Ben Wikler defeats David Bowen, will replace Martha Laning.
Wisconsin Democrats have chosen former national party activist Ben Wikler as their new state party chair.
Laning oversaw a devastating election year for Democrats in 2016, but redeemed herself in the eyes of many after Democrats swept statewide office elections in 2018.
Wikler recently returned to Wisconsin, having spent several years in Washington, D.C., as a director for MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group.
“I’ve spent my whole life in this work,” Wikler said in his remarks before the state party convention on Saturday.
Wikler used his speech to recall his own advocacy work in support of the Affordable Care Act in 2017, and complimented state Democrats for their own efforts calling their Congressional representatives and protesting.
He also called on Wisconsin Democrats to continue engaging in advocacy efforts between elections. He mentioned Democrats’ push to accept a federal expansion of Medicaid in particular, as well as movements to bolster union rights.
Wikler received the votes of 1,006 of delegates, while his opponent, state Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, received 233.
In his remarks, Bowen called on the party to change up its grassroots advocacy efforts. He said the party needs to end a practice of “parachuting” organizers into unfamiliar communities, rather than deploying trained activists in their own communities.
Wikler will lead the party as the state prepares to welcome the Democratic National Convention in 2020.
He, along with his vice chair, Felesia Martin, will also serve as superdelegates during the convention’s presidential nominating process. That means they can support whichever candidate they would like, regardless of who Wisconsin voters chose in the primary election.
Wisconsin Democrats Elect Ben Wikler As New State Party Chair was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.