Saturday, October 26, 2013

State Sen. 9th Democratic Candidate Martha Laning on "Between the Lines w/Greg Stensland"

Towards the end of last week there was a lot of buzz about a Democratic challenger to Sen. Joe Leibham in eastern Wisconsin's 9th State Senate District. Many who live outside the Manitowoc/Sheboygan County area may not know much about her, but getting her name and views out to those who count matters, and that's just what happened on Friday's "Between the Lines." (It's also a crucial race for Democrats if they want to take back the State Senate in 2014 FYI)

You can listen to the interview HERE. 

The conversation was very introductory to the electorate. The interview opens up about her living just outside of Sheboygan but originating from the Wisconsin Rapids/Port Edwards area while her husband comes from Fond du Lac. It then moves around to her experience graduating UW-Madison with an accounting degree, working for Target Corporation using her degree as it relates to pricing and couponing, becoming a full-time mother, and then returning to UW to get her MBA.

There is also a laundry list of other activities she has been involved with since then, including her best known role as part of the Plymouth Intergenerational Coalition. It was during this time she raised substantial amounts of money to build a community center, which is how she has become a known quantity in the area. 

When asked about why she decided to run for State Senate, she makes note about her kids and being concerned about the cuts to education. She notes that the Sheboygan School District had over 700 teachers but has lost over 100 in the last five years. She also notes the changes in time spent with students and class sizes. (WOW, talk about refreshing to hear from someone who works as a teacher!) She also says the word "propaganda" when talking about how people have listed ways that they think education can be done cheaper and better.

As a teacher, as a public education advocate, I'm THRILLED to hear that there is a mom out there who sees what's happening and is willing to help us out. 

The conversation then turns to a listing of her views on different issues. 

1st: Rejection of high speed rail money by the governor:

She says that rejecting that money during a recession was a lost opportunity to create jobs, noting that it should have been seriously considered and that the Governor should've sat down with people on both sides of the issue. (Wow, novel concept, discussion of topics...) She does not that the Governor's concerns were somewhat valid, but that creating the polarization by not even sitting down and talking is the ultimate issue. It set her up well for the next topic...

2nd:  Act 10:
"I think it was a horrible move the way he did that"
Nice answer. Again, she comes back and says that sitting down would've been the better answer in a recession. She makes the point that unions offered concessions in the wake of Act 10 and once again goes back to the fact that the deep polarization we have in this state could've been avoided. 

3rd: Rejection of Medicaid expansion: 

She once again says that it's another bad move because of how it affected 90,000 people and forced them to change for essentially what amounted to politics. 

4th: Gov. Walker's 250,000 jobs promise: 

The first place she goes is to the WEDC and how it was set up in the most asinine way possible. She then loops the conversation back around to her own business background and how the way the system was designed was flawed to begin with. She says that we're lucky we have great businesses that have been able to grow in spite of the political climate that has been created by the Governor.
(Hey WisDems', are you paying attention to this lady? Holy crap, why the hell aren't you campaigning EVERYONE with talking points like this?!)

5th: Iron Mine:

Again, excellent pivot to the larger issue: Taking away local control. (Remember, it was done in the taconite mine, it's being debated with the frack sand mining, and as a Milwaukee resident, don't even get me started with how they're inserting themselves here.) She then closes quickly on how local control being taken away actually hampers businesses ability to expand. 

6th: Statewide vouchers: 

Very concerning to her and against it. Again, she goes to her business background and says that creating more overhead costs by just having more schools doesn't improve anything and as Milwaukee has shown, doesn't work. (Just search the Soapbox for tons of articles on this.) She then closes by making a thinly veiled swipe at saying the real problem is society and the issues outside the school walls that are impacting the way students are performing.

7th: Common Core State Standards being "investigated":

She says she's surprised by the new found blow-back against them. She then notes that she has been in three different state's school systems with her own kids and that when they move it makes more sense to have a unifying set of ideas so people don't miss things. Secondly, she notes that the Common Core is being very strongly supported by schools in her district and doesn't understand why people who aren't in education are now all of a sudden somehow more "learned" on this topic. 

The conversation closes with a little background on her district and how she will approach her campaign. It's noted that her district has generally been more Republican in the recent past, but she says that she's always been known as someone who can bring people together, and that's the goal of her campaign. 

As someone who knew virtually nothing of this candidate before last Thursday, I can say that I LOVE what I'm hearing. I think that her chances are better than some may have thought based on the 2010 election. However, post-2010 redistricting certainly influenced the way this race can go, a fact not lost on the Sheboygan Free-Press' article on the announcement:
Former Democrat state Sen. Jim Baumgart, who Liebham defeated for his current seat in 2002, said the new political map — redrawn after the 2010 election — gives Leibham the upper hand, making it a tough fight for any Democrat to win. He also said he is concerned that if the race were to become competitive, that campaign contributions from out-of-state special interests could flood the race.

“If they think this Senate seat will be in danger, you will see money come in like you wouldn’t believe,” said Baumgart, who currently serves as a Sheboygan County supervisor. 
Nevertheless, he said he is optimistic about Laning’s chances. Baumgart called Laning a moderate who brings experience from the private sector and an agenda that is friendly toward women.
Okay Democrats, we know what we're up against. Let's win this thing!

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