Netroots Nation: All About Wisconsin

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 16 2011 11:15 AM

Netroots Nation: All About Wisconsin

MINNEAPOLIS -- One theme I'm noticing early on at Netroots Nation is a guarded confidence that Republicans are over-reaching, exposing their craziness, and paving the way for Democratic gains. The first panel I saw -- a small room but an overflow crowd -- had veterans of the Wisconsin budget and union fights telling the story and talking strategy for the recalls of Republican senators.

"Victory would mean flipping three senators and taking the Senate," explained Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

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But how likely is victory? Scott Spector, an organizer with the state AFT, said that the movement hadn't really focused enough on the judicial race that was narrowly lost by Democrat-supported JoAnn Kloppenburg. My recollection was that Democrats tried hard but lost after conservative groups swung hard for the Republican.

"Their money broke really late, and really hard," said Spector. "If the election had been held just five days earlier she would have won. That was the trend. So obviously we're ready for that late-money attack to happen again and again. We just need to have more boots on the ground."

At the end of the panel, volunteers with Democracy for America -- the organization Howard Dean founded when dropping his presidential bid -- passed out fliers telling people how to join a Sunday canvass for Democratic candidates in the next state over. The co-sponsors included the AFSCME, AFT, NEA, UFCW, SEIU and the AFL-CIO. It's an easy sell; this is still the leading edge of Democratic activism.

"I'm a lot more optimistic since Wisconsin," said Nancy Schundler, an activist from the Tysons Corner area of Virginia. "There's going to be a huge backlash to this crazy stuff Republicans are doing in the states."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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