Grassroots Activists Letter Regarding Candidacy of Kathleen Falk

Last week several Wisconsin grassroots leaders and activists asked this writer to compose a letter expressing our discontent with the candidacy of Kathleen Falk for Governor. The text of the letter appears below, along with a hypertext link to the word document in the title of the letter. This letter is being sent to the Falk Campaign, Wisconsin Democratic Party, and communicated with Labor Leadership. It is our hope that stronger, more progressive statewide candidates will emerge from this process that will defeat Scott Walker in the imminent recall election.

You are invited to add your voice to this opinion (if you agree) by sharing and forwarding this letter to the following email addresses:



As many of the grassroots activists who have fought against the radical policies of Scott Walker and the current incarnation of the GOP,  we have stood in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the state, been on the frontline of gubernatorial and senatorial recalls, and believe it is time for a Progressive resurgence in Wisconsin reflecting the spirit of Robert M. LaFollette; therefore, we will not support or endorse Kathleen Falk as a primary gubernatorial candidate representative of this grassroots movement.

The movement that began when UW-Madison teaching assistants brought valentines to the governor’s office in February, 2011 has made history by delivering over one million signatures to recall Scott Walker – led by volunteers from around the state engaged as never before in Wisconsin history. Wisconsin is on the verge of a new populist progressive movement not seen since Fighting Bob LaFollette. We are on the verge of a new politic; wrought by the sweat, tears, strength, and solidarity of millions of Wisconsinites.

But this movement is still fragile, at a crossroads that will take it forward to reform the very nature of government in Wisconsin; or backwards into the abyss of Corporate and Party morass. It is for this reason we express our concern over the candidacy of Kathleen Falk.

While Kathleen Falk is an honorable politician and person, and we respect her right to run for Governor of Wisconsin, we feel she represents a politic supported by establishment and corporate Democrats. The very staff she has hired to coordinate and run her campaign are representative of the same capital “D” democrats that gave us Jim Doyle and Tom Barrett – two politicians who are not reflective of progressive values or this grassroots movement. Falk will certainly raise a significant amount of money thanks to her professional Democrat staff, but that is not the measure of the candidate needed for this movement.

We believe Falk is vulnerable in a statewide election, regardless of current polling. She has lost significant recent statewide elections, engaged in a contentious campaign against Peg Lautenschlager (winning only to lose to JB VanHollen), and left her position as Dane County Executive mid-term. For these reasons alone, she demonstrates great vulnerability in a statewide race. Falk’s election history and being surrounded with establishment, big money Democratic Party operatives demonstrate a level of opportunism towards this movement – and we will not support or endorse such a candidate.

As a grassroots movement, we support an open Democratic primary to allow the people to choose the candidate to challenge and defeat Scott Walker. It is our express desire that this primary take place, without restriction or interference by the Democratic Party, and that the emerging candidate be representative and accountable to the people in their commission. While we respect that Kathleen Falk may emerge from that process as the candidate, we will not support her during the primary process, as we feel there are candidates that will better represent the values we seek to forward this emerging progressive movement.


Respectfully Submitted by Concerned Grassroots Citizens of Wisconsin


10 thoughts on “Grassroots Activists Letter Regarding Candidacy of Kathleen Falk

  1. “Democrat staff?” What? That is how REPUBLICANs talk, by intentionally mangling English grammar to reflect on Dems negatively. The proper and non-insulting English is “Democratic staff.”

    I served with Kathleen Falk for 6 years. In my long experience she really stands our for her competence. She also has an ability to work across the great ideological divide.

    Your criticisms of her here are vague and impossible to address. “Corporatist?” I have no idea what you mean by that and do not see Falk as supporting corps over people. I don’t even know who her staff are, so that accusation is also vague to the point of being meaningless and, certainlt ad hominem in the absence of substance.

    How about if we not set upon each other and, instead, work FOR the candidates we support (I am no aligned with anyone now), rather than run around slinging charges and doing Walker’s work for him.

    Remember, Bill Proxmire lost 3 elections before he won office.

    • To Andy and critics of this letter – our intent here is to forward the idea that we can do better in a statewide candidate. Whether or not the syntax of “Democrat” or “Democratic” is correct is not critical. What is, is that we get the BEST statewide candidate, and defeat Walker. Do not think that any of us would fail to work or vote for Kathleen if that is the outcome. And I disagree, a healthy, honest debate on this topic is NOT doing Walker’s work – if you have followed this blog at all, you will know that is not the case and I take offense at that supposition. This debate needs to take place amongst ALL of us who are vested, not a select few. We all are engaged, and need to continue to be – the common foe is the anti-democracy ilks of Walker and the GOP. To defeat them, we need the strongest candidate. We just believe we can and need to do better than Falk, who is garnering the favor of the party, money, and labor in what appears to be an internal process. THAT is what this letter is about.

      • I am non-affiliated politically, but I worked with the Democrats locally and put in over 125 hours on the recall effort, so far. In addition to applauding the above letter, here, Democratic party members ought to get off their duffs and start connecting Walker’s enablers at every turn, the Republican state legislators, to every bit of crap that is currently going down in the state. Lock-step losers and liars. Bring it on locally, don’t let your local state rep hide in the weeds on this recall and expect to come out of this unscathed politically.

        Not officially a party member, I’m good enough to work the recall, but unmistakeably not good enough to be in the informational loop locally with the party. The stuffy little club of liberals there refusing to hear anything even slightly critical of Obama is typical of the reasons for not affiliating with them.

  2. Who are these Concerned Grassroots Citizens? Is there a list of names somewhere? Not putting your names on the letter is a bit passive aggressive, eh?

  3. Although I do share most of your concerns about Kathleen Falk, I feel that you should not have written this letter. I think we the people should choose among all the candidates who decide to run in the primary. Hey guys! We are smart. We can figure it out! Now is NOT the time to be like Republicans; it is NOT the time to eat our own.

  4. We deserve to be able to choose our candidate in the primary from a group of candidates, but the Democratic Party doesn’t necessarily believe the same thing.

    I know that in other races the Democratic Party has picked their “favored” candidate then told all the other potential Dem. candidates that if they ran in a primary against the “favored” candidate they would be blacklisted from the party and anyone working for their campaign would be blacklisted as well. This kind of strong arm mentality protects the “favored” candidate and shuts down the democratic process.

    If you doubt that this kind of thing happens remember the last gubernatorial election and the fact that no one ran in a primary against Tom Barrett. What exactly happened to Barbara Lawton? From what I heard Gov. Doyle and the WI Democratic Party made sure her candidacy died quickly because staffers were afraid to work for her and access to resources were cut off. The end result of these tactics is a “savings” as there is no expensive primary, but an overall loss because the anointed candidate only creates an excitement level of “meh” from the electorate across the state.

    We have a plethora of experienced potential candidates in this state. People with experience, skill and the knowledge needed to do this job right and each one can uphold the banner of a clean, open democratic government. Yet for all the cautious inquiries I’ve heard of, not one has stepped forward as a candidate in this election. If the Democratic Party can no let go of controlling candidates and actually allow a primary to happen, then it will be a great loss to the state of Wisconsin. If Kathleen Falk remains the “chosen” candidate from the Democratic Party, then I think it is time to support an Independent, Progressive candidate for the recall election of Scott Walker. The people of Wisconsin deserve a choice.

  5. “Whether or not the syntax of “Democrat” or “Democratic” is correct is not critical. ”

    There is no debate – it is incorrect grammar and bad messaging/rhetoric. Please observe how Fox News and every Republican use this formulation (“Democrat Party”). They do it for a reason, based in the propaganda arts as it makes Dems look bad. If you’re involved with public messaging (running a blog, say, ahem, or writing letters to Democrats, cough) then it matters.

    There are articles out there on the intertubes explaining this in more depth. Search on “Democrat Party” grammar

    “a healthy, honest debate on this topic is NOT doing Walker’s work”
    I never said it was. I’m all for good debate, which does not include this letter. See my previous comment. Falk is opposed by “corporatists”!

    “This debate needs to take place amongst ALL of us who are vested, not a select few:”
    To be clear, I never said it should be limited or the debate should be left to the elites. (Disclosure: I have probably been PO’ing the party elites a lot longer than many letter signers, whoever they are.). But I also stow a lot of that criticism in the run up to elections, to avoid draining enthusiasm. We got to election with the party and candidates we got, etc…..

  6. It’s not up to your grassroots group, Kathleen Falk, or the Democratic Party who the Democratic candidate will be. That is up to the voting people of WI. You’re entitled to your opinion, as is everyone else. The candidate will be whoever wins the primary. If that ends up being Falk, are you going to campaign and vote for Walker? Seriously?

  7. In all due fairness Tammy – it was NEVER stated that if Kathleen Falk were to be the canidate to run against Walker then they would be voting for Walker. READ the letter. Concerns were expressed as to Kathleen Falks past record, it was also stated that their should be a primary so more people can throw their hats in the ring and we the people who have fought so hard for this recall will have a chance to vote for who will be running against Walker. The Democratic party tends to put their support behind one candidate and tend to make it impossible for others to have a chance to run. Seriously Tammy…no one name was mentioned, but stated the same thing as what u just slammed them for which is that we the people should get the chance to vote for the best canidate to run against Walker.

  8. I don’t know who I will support for governor yet, other than that it will not be Scott Walker. While I can certainly understand the concerns being raised, trying to make a pre-emptive strike against a qualified candidate who has already entered the race to ultimately unseat Walker doesn’t seem like a particularly helpful approach. (Things like this are where those circular firing squad jokes come from.)

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