To All WI Democratic Party County Chairs: A Call To Action

Excellent. Let the discussions begin.

Kerri L. Smith Bruss wrote: To all Democratic Party County Chairs: A Call To Action

As you may or may not be aware, a significant and growing concern regarding language in the by-laws that, as written, appears to support the denial of VAN access to a would-be challenger to an incumbent has been developing across the state.

The DPW [Democratic Party of Wisconsin] has taken the official position that if such a challenger were to be granted VAN access, the incumbent may be less inclined to protect the integrity of the VAN by not updating it with data that may be acquired during subsequent campaigns.

However, if a certain Dem constituency believes that a primary challenge is warranted, they as well as the candidate in good standing should have the same means for redress within party structure as the incumbent. A Dem in good standing is exactly that, and the party should treat him/her and their proposed candidacy with the legitimacy it deserves. After all, a primary challenge is the only real way to hold elected Dems accountable to the party platform and to the constituencies they purportedly serve.

This concern needs to be addressed and a simple change can be implemented to clarify the issue, namely by adding the words “any Democrat in good standing” to the applicable by-law.

The CCA meeting in Stevens Point this coming weekend is an opportunity to begin this necessary conversation towards change that would do much to level the playing field for all Dem candidates in good standing. Please make every effort to attend and make your voice heard on this critical issue.

It is also encouraged that all concerned constituents contact their county chair to make their voice heard on this issue as well. Please share liberally.

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Mark Wayne Davis wrote: I would argue that the By-laws are in conflict with the Constitution and the decision to withhold the VAN from a primary challenger of an incumbent should be over-ruled on that basis. While it would be a good piece of business to fix the flawed By-laws, action need not be delayed for that. A ruling by the Chair on the meaning of the relevant provisions should suffice.

Article III, Sec. 6 of the Constitution states, “By-laws shall be not inconsistent with the provisions of this constitution.”

Article VIII of the Constitution states, in relevant part, “The state organization… [is] prohibited from endorsing or supporting any candidate in a Democratic presidential preference election or any partisan primary election which will determine the candidate of the Democratic Party for the ensuing election to office…” The Article does go on to spell out special circumstances under which this can occur, but they are not to my knowledge relevant to the case at hand.

I would argue that these provisions, taken together, trump any By-laws provision under which an incumbent would receive “support” in greater measure than would a member in good standing who challenges an incumbent. To argue otherwise would be to hold the position, untenable in my mind, that provision of the VAN does not constitute “support.”

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