The Democratic National Convention is over and Wisconsin Democrats are feeling pretty good about what happened in Denver. This 2008 Democratic National Convention was the first genuinely contested convention in recent memory in which Wisconsin's presidential primary choice became the national party's eventual nominee.
In 1992, Wisconsin Democrats gave Bill Clinton a shock by giving nearly as many votes to the insurgent campaign of Jerry Brown. Clinton won the nomination anyway.
In 2004, the next contested Democratic primaries, John Kerry fell sixteen points short of the combined Edwards/Dean vote. Kerry still became the nominee.
But in 2008, Hillary Clinton won only Douglas, Burnett and Polk counties in Wisconsin's northeast, Forest and Marinette counties in the northwest, and Adam and Juneau in the middle of our state. Obama swept the rest of Wisconsin. And in Denver, Wisconsin Democrats finally felt vindicated.
State Representative Mark Pocan of Madison left the convention with the feeling that opposition to the Iraq War was one major reason for the Wisconsin delegations coming together behind Obama, "I saw many of our delegates wearing buttons that said, 'I am a Delegate for Peace'."
Jennie Sykes-Schwenk, a Wisconsin 8th Congressional District delegate, says that this was the first time she's felt compelled to do more than just vote, "My experience in Denver was everything I hoped it would be. I feel that Barack is a candidate that will inspire a grassroots movement in this country."
Clinton supporters agreed. Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton, originally a Hillary delegate, says the few days during the convention have been cathartic for her, "I understood what the other Hillary delegates were feeling," she said. "This primary season drove us through all 50 states and six territories, and was trying, but the fact that we can all unite behind Barack Obama and Joe Biden is emblematic of how much our party values respect."
The Lieutenant Governor, next in line to the Governor's office should Jim Doyle advance to national office in an Obama administration, is happy with the form the convention took, saying that, "Democratic strategists have shown brilliant strategy, and were able to cut through the divisive Clinton versus Obama media messaging of the Republicans."
Former Assembly Speaker Wally Kunicki, who first met Obama in November of 2006, says he likes Obama because, "he attracts the tolerant supporters." Kunicki enjoyed hearing the former President's speech and feels that Obama and Bill Clinton share similarities that make them attractive to the party.
State Representative Mike Sheridan of Janesville, agreed that Hillary and Bill Clinton's speeches convinced him that they are genuinely committed to party unity. Sheridan really likes Obama because he is, "a strong leader and will garner the respect of the world." Sheridan has spoken with Obama about partnering with Wisconsin to invest in a green economic transition for manufacturing cities like Janesville, which is reeling from the GM plant closure.
Former Madison Common Council President Austin King, today ACORN's Financial Justice Director, says he is, "happy to see Wisconsinites both inside this convention, wearing pin stripes, and also outside on the streets as anti-war protesters."
King said he tried to not pay too much attention to the well scripted and glitzy convention agenda, and focused more on results. As far as King was concerned, what was most important about this convention is that, "Wisconsin's positions on key issues like war, trade, economic justice, and the environment will finally be reflected in a Democratic nominee who Wisconsinites voted for."
And that means that Badger State Democrats have something to smile about.