The Vogeler Senate Campaign
— Marc Sanson, Mike Wunsch and Rae Vogeler
WITH JUST FOUR months until the general election, Green Party candidate Rae Vogeler has established herself as the main opposition to millionaire incumbent Senator Herb Kohl. Vogeler's campaign took off last September when the mother of two decided that Wisconsin needed a Senator to stand up for working people, end the war, and fund good jobs, quality education and affordable health care:
The Iraq War has gone from bad to worse, costing us $100,000 a minute. Thousands have died and been injured -- both soldiers and Iraqi civilians. Hurricane Katrina has badly damaged several states, devastating many people's lives. We've got global warming, an education system in crisis, and a lack of family-supporting jobs. Forty five million people are without healthcare, and the national debt is a staggering 8.4 trillion dollars. In response to these looming crises, Washington serves up more of the same: more tax cuts for the rich, more pandering to oil and big business, 'staying the course' in Iraq, and recklessly spending away our future for unlimited war. My view is different. I believe we must confront our problems head on. The choices we make now will determine the kind of world our children will live in.
The Rae Vogeler campaign calls for:
- Bringing our troops home now - and supporting veterans with full benefits, and ending VA hospital cutbacks and closures.
- Health care for all - a single payer universal health care system that cuts bureaucratic private section waste and focuses resources on patient care.
- Quality education - fully funded public school for pre-K through college.
- Clean energy - getting off our oil dependence, investing in clean and renewable energy sources, supporting mass transit and conservation.
- Freedoms - overturning the Patriot Act, ending surveillance, promoting equality for all, opposing discrimination against people of color, and defending a woman's right to choose.
- A people's economy - stop sending jobs overseas. Instead, provide for living wages, vibrant local economies and grassroots democracy.
- Fiscal responsibility - Rather than unlimited spending on war and tax cuts for the rich, reduce trillion dollar deficits without sacrificing Social Security, the well being of working families and the poor.
The campaign is holding listening sessions all over the state. People are telling us that they are stretched financially and are sick and tired of endless war. The average wage in Wisconsin has increased only 68 cents in the last 25 years, while military contractors are making a thousand dollars a day in Iraq.
Wisconsin has the highest poverty growth rate in the country. In Milwaukee, over 40% of the kids are in poverty. People are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet. Meanwhile across the state, schools are shutting down for lack of funds. Parent teacher organizations are trying to raise money for the basics, like books, lab equipment, and even toilet paper.
"This campaign is about peace, war and class," says Vogeler. Kohl is a multi-millionaire war hawk who represents the interests of the rich and powerful - oil companies, credit card companies, and the defense industry. This is reflected in his votes for Bush's Energy Bill, the Bankruptcy Bill, tax cuts for the rich, and the Iraq War.
"I am a working mom who represents the interests of working people. I, like other folks in Wisconsin, am finding it harder and harder to put food on the table. I know what it's like to work for a living, lose a job, go without healthcare, and try to scrape by for the future - for retirement and college expenses. As I'm touring the state, people can relate to me because I'm an everyday person like them."
The U.S. Green Party highlights Rae Vogeler's campaign as one of their three main targeted campaigns nationally. Her campaign got a boost recently with the addition of longtime Green activist and national party co-chair Marc Sanson as campaign manager. According to Sanson, "Rae's campaign is about the people of Wisconsin. She's not running to represent the wealthy interests that already have a voice in Washington. She's running to give a voice to the rest of Wisconsin - the farmers, small businesses and working families. That is our constituency."
Herb Kohl is one of the richest politicians in Washington. Facing Kohl's nearly unlimited resources is no small task for the campaign, which Sanson says is committed to collecting contributions from the people of Wisconsin who want to see a change. "Herb Kohl doesn't take contributions from folks like us because he claims 'he's nobody's senator but yours' but the reality is, Kohl is nobody's senator but his own."
Vogeler explains, "It's not easy asking working people for contributions to my campaign but that's what I have to do to be different from the other Senators who get their funds from wealthy interests and lobbyists."
The campaign's strategy involves establishing six coordinated organizations matching Wisconsin's major media markets and bioregions with coordinators in each of the state's 72 counties. An early August tour throughout the state projected stops in all 22 cities where voters passed a referendum calling for troop withdrawal last April.
ATC 124, September-October 2006