Sunday, April 10, 2016

Unlike Trump's, Chris Larson's Concession Statement Inspires


The media has been comparing Trump's boorish "concession" statement after Cruz beat him in Wisconsin with Hillary's more graceful-- albeit completely insincere-- tweet congratulating Bernie for his stunning 56.6- 43.1% victory, in which he beat her in 71 of the state's 72 counties.

But there's a better statement to compare Trump's to, the one state Senator Chris Larson sent to his supporters after he was defeated in the race for Milwaukee County Executive. The contrast between Larson and Trump couldn't been starker. It isn't anodyne like Clinton's or offensive like Trump's and, unlike either of theirs, it's actually worth reading and contemplating.

I’m writing to say thank you for everything you did to help make this campaign so great.  I appreciate all you did to get the truth out to voters and carry our message of hope.

 We may have lost this battle, but it’s clear to me that we have the power and potential to shape the landscape of our county.

I am glad that I ran for county executive. And when I stood up to run, I’m glad you stood up with me. Together, we worked harder than any campaign I have ever been a part of. I didn’t take a day off in over three months and neither did many on our team. We hoped for a better result but, in the end, the inherited wealth of our opponent carried the day.

 I’ll be honest, the last couple days have been rough. I worry about the direction things will head in our county without a leader who listens.

But compared to not running for this seat, I’m proud of where we are today. You should be, too.

Together, we pushed a message of hope and change. We talked of our vision where government functions more like a community than one of a profit-motivated business. We stood strong in our commitment to a community where every neighbor has a voice and together, we would invest in a greater good that we wouldn’t be able to achieve on our own. We reminded our neighbors that parks have value in themselves because of the quality of life that can’t be measured in terms of dollars and cents.

Here's what I know: we shifted the conversation about our community. The Chris Abele who won on Tuesday was a very different Chris Abele than the one we started running against six months ago. Because of our campaign, he backed away from every major thing we pointed to as evidence that he was out of touch.
Right after we started running, he turned on the voicemail at his office so people could leave a message.

He stopped using taxpayer funds to cover his lavish security costs while slashing general public safety.

He kept more funding in his budget for homeless shelters.

He backed away from the Takeover of our public schools and even went so far as to completely adopt our vision of providing wraparound services in our schools. This isn’t at all what the Takeover language was and he could have done this anytime in the last 5 years. But it didn’t happen until we stepped forward and put pressure on him.

After vetoing an earlier version put forth by supervisors and cutting investment, he adopted as his own the Ready to Work legislation that helps bring new workers into the workforce.

When pressed at a forum, he made a commitment to find dedicated funding for transit.

He held a public hearing after we pointed out his insistence on avoiding the public.

He made a commitment to getting workers to a living wage. This, after he vetoed the Living Wage Ordinance in Milwaukee County and even went to Madison to try and preempt it.

He vowed not to sell parks, the zoo, the airport, or the museum. This, after he got special authority in secret legislation slipped into the Republican budget that allowed him to do those very things.

He backed away from the power grab of getting unilateral policy making authority without the public at the table.

He backed away from a bill that would have given him unilateral budgeting authority without the public at the table.
Now that the election is over, it’s up to us to make sure Chris Abele follows through on those promises he made. And while he shifted on just about every major issue we pointed out, I remain steadfast in my commitment to my progressive ideals and standing up for our community.

In the end, his camp couldn’t find much to attack us on so they had to make things up. They ran against a position I held on the Estabrook dam from seven years ago and were even called out by the media for lying in their ad. They made up a banking connection by attacking an LGBT activist and then claimed a bipartisan bill that helped local retailers and had no one against it (including Abele) was suddenly a giveaway to Wall Street. They even attacked us for proposing to carry out a tax plan that passed by public referendum eight years ago and would lower property taxes by making a slight shift to a sales tax.

You know who I am. Even after a multi-million dollar attack campaign, I’m still the same man you trusted with your support.

I’m proud of the campaign we ran. I’m proud of each of you stepping up with me. We were outspent but not outworked. Together, we changed the conversation in our community. The establishment in town knows we're watching and our movement will only grow from here.

I have a newfound respect for you for standing strong with us against the odds. On election night, we had a room full of friends who knew the playing field was tilted against us by a 20-to-1 imbalance in spending, but who jumped into the fight anyway because it was the right thing to do.

We’re still just getting started. Together, we will stay energized and mobilized to keep the pressure on whenever there is an undemocratic grab for power.

Your Neighbor,

Chris Larson
And that's why it's worth running, even against the most impossible odds-- at least it's worth running when you're going to put in the necessary work, the way Chris did. And Blue America, I promise you, will be there for Chris next time he needs our help.

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