Iron County Progressive


Weekly News from Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair

Did you know we have an Election Day…18 days from now?

It’s true! In 18 days, on February 16, Wisconsinites have a chance to cast ballots in the spring election primaries. Offices on the ballot range from town and city council positions to the statewide Superintendent of Public Instruction—Gov. Tony Evers’s previous job. Some county parties will be making endorsements in local races—check with yours to find out!

So, now is the time to request your absentee ballot. Go to, tick the box to request it for the whole year, and then post on Facebook and text some friends to make sure they do the same thing.

Here’s why this is so critical: it’s at the heart of how we can win in 2022.

Under Wisconsin law, voters can request absentee ballots for an entire calendar year—but those requests expire when the new year rolls around. In 2020, 1.3 million voters requested absentee ballots—and 98% of them wound up casting a ballot.

By every indication, a huge majority of those voters were Democrats. And here’s something else great: The first time you register for an absentee ballot, you have to upload (or mail in) a photo of your voter ID. But once you’ve done that, it stays on file. So this year, you don’t have to upload a thing—just click a few boxes and your ballot will go into the mail.

If we can ensure that Democrats get into the habit of renewing their absentee ballot requests every single year, we could, as Trump once put it, have “levels of voting, that… you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

After all—we won the Governor’s race in 2018 with 1.3 million votes.

Our spring primary and general elections this year are our first chance to sharpen our skills at helping people become repeat absentee voters. Let’s make it happen. This is how we rebuild: By organizing our way into a democracy.  

In solidarity,



FIGHT on the Issues & FIGHT to Win

Republicans in the State Legislature are putting the lives of Wisconsinites at risk once again by attempting to repeal a crucial health mandate that would in turn cost the state $49 million in food benefits for people struggling due to the pandemic. This latest risk to food benefits is due to the Republicans’ efforts to repeal the mask mandate, which is finding very little public support. If overturned, Wisconsin would be one of only ten states to not have a statewide mask mandate.

This attempt comes at the same time that Assembly Republicans are refusing to pass a strong, bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill that already has the support of the Senate and Gov. Evers by introducing their own relief bill. After rejecting the bipartisan bill, Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke claimed that this latest Assembly bill made concessions and was a “give and take”, but when pressed, it was clarified that this was purely between other Republicans in the Assembly.

Steineke’s false claims and latest attempts to mislead the public are dishonest and unfair to the people of Wisconsin who desperately need relief. Wisconsin already has the reputation for having one of the least active legislatures in the country. At a time when COVID-19 variants are being found in this state, we need science to lead the policies and leaders to come together immediately to help Wisconsinites


Former Congressional Candidate Makes Nazi Reference In Since Deleted Tweet

This week, former GOP Congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden published a tweet making a Nazi reference to Jewish political figure Robert Reich. He has since attempted to apologize for the tweet while still comparing Democrats efforts to get rid of the filibuster to a criminal regime.

Here’s how DPW chair Ben Wikler responded, in a story in the La Crosse Tribune:

            "Derrick Van Orden attended the January 6th rally before the insurrection at the Capitol and didn't say anything about the Camp Auschwitz shirt and other Nazi imagery. Now, he accuses Robert Reich of being a Nazi for speaking out about the filibuster. And then, after deleting his tweet and apologizing, Van Orden again analogizes Democrats and Nazis. Derrick Van Orden needs to stop trying to weaponize the horrors of the Holocaust to advance an anti-democracy agenda."


NBC News Story Highlights Impact of Partisan Gerrymandering On Wisconsinites’ Ability to Get COVID Relief

The damage done by Wisconsin’s extreme GOP gerrymandering on the state’s ability to battle COVID is generating national headlines. An NBC News story Wednesday highlighted that Wisconsinites are the ones dealing with the consequences without any much needed COVID-19 relief after Republicans redrew the legislative maps to benefit them back in 2011. Since the legislative redistricting, Democrats haven’t had any chance at gaining the majority, despite multiple elections in which Democrats won a majority of votes for state Assembly statewide. Now, with the Republicans in the majority, they are taking every opportunity to work against Gov. Evers’ efforts to keep Wisconsinites healthy and safe during this pandemic.

Despite a recent poll finding that 53% of Wisconsin residents trust the governor more than the state legislature to decide on COVID policies, Republicans continue to put politics over the health and safety of their constituents. This year, we have an opportunity to redraw the lines more fairly, as the Governor’s People’s Maps Commission is working to do—and if Republicans refuse to do work with Democrats to come up with a fair plan for new district lines, their proposal could face the Governor’s veto pen.

Sedition Caucus Extends to Republicans in Wisconsin State Legislature, Calls for Johnson to Resign Continue

Just days after a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol killing five people, several Wisconsin Editorial Boards called on Wisconsin’s Congressional sedition caucus - Sen. Ron Johnson, Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, and Rep. Tom Tiffany - to resign following their contributions to Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Now, another editorial board is pointing out that our state legislature has its own sedition caucus: 15 Republicans in the state legislature who also helped fuel the  failed insurrection by signing on to a Jan. 5th letter urging Mike Pence to refuse to certify the Electoral College votes.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz called out his colleagues as well for their actions: “This letter calls for sedition, plain and simple. Making the same refuted claims 63 days after the election, and the day before the well-orchestrated coup led by the president, can only be viewed as part of the same dangerous threat. It should disgust all Wisconsinites that Republican state legislators attached their names to something so false and so dangerous. The words and actions of elected officials matter. The validation of baseless claims that echo President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election to stay in power contributed to the attack on our democracy.”

The Capital Times editorial board also expanded their original call for Senator Ron Johnson’s resignation to a call for his expulsion: “In the case of Johnson, the facts warrant expulsion. His lies, his abuses of his position and his threats to obstruct governing in order to thwart accountability for incitement of insurrection represent a rejection of his oath of office. He has no place in the United States Senate.”


New Climate Report Uses Native American Traditional Knowledge to Offer Climate Change Solutions

A newly released report by the Wisconsin Climate Change Task Force draws from the traditional knowledge of Native American tribes in the area. The information included in the report is critical because it describes thousands of years of traditional knowledge of local ecology and how it has changed over time. “I think it’s common knowledge that American Indians are culturally linked to the land. We are part of the environment. We’re not separate from it. We try to practice good environmental stewardship,” said Jeff Crawford, attorney general for the Forest County Potawatomi Community and one of two tribal representatives to serve on the Climate Change Task Force.

We recognize that Indigenous people are the original stewards of this land and we are glad to see input is being sought for this report from the 12 sovereign Native tribes in Wisconsin.

New Legislative Session Sets a Record for Female Members in Wisconsin Statehouse 

A recent report from the Legislature’s nonpartisan research office found that more female lawmakers are serving in the Wisconsin State Legislature than ever before. There are currently 41 women serving in the State Legislature, up from the 34 serving last session. This makes the makeup of the State Legislature over 30% women, with about two-thirds of female lawmakers are Democrats.

"We see, time and time again, in the literature and research on representation that it does make a substantive difference to have women, and a diverse group of women, at policymaking tables. We value things like being a veteran, serving in the military, because that is a lived experience that can be applied to public policy; so too is being a woman, because you bring experiences that are often left out of the conversation,” said director of research at the Center for American Women and Politics Kelly Dittmar.

Let’s celebrate the leadership of Democratic women in Wisconsin and  their work to create a more equitable state.


Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes “Takes the National Stage” to Discuss Climate Change

With the new presidential administration tackling climate change just weeks in office, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is hitting the national stage, the Wisconsin Examiner reports, to mark the beginning of the new era of climate policy. Recently, Barnes attended a virtual meeting alongside climate experts from Rhode Island and New Jersey. From Lt. Gov Barnes’s comments:

            “Given that the federal government has been largely inactive, states have had to take on leadership roles. With what has already come out, I feel comfortable that we’re going to have a partner with the federal government. And that is going to make our work so much easier.

“As I’ve traveled across our state. I’ve had a chance to witness firsthand how the climate crisis has taken a devastating toll on people’s lives. We’ve seen illness that’s caused by air pollution. Loss of life and livelihood from extreme weather events. And also the economic toll that it takes on our farming communities, our tourism industry and our infrastructure.”

We are lucky to have strong leaders, both in Wisconsin with Governor Evers and Lt. Gov Barnes and nationally with President Biden, that look to science and are constantly working with partners to find new policy ideas to tackle the ongoing climate crisis.




Russia has been cultivating Trump as an asset for 40 years, former KGB spy says

Thomas Colson  

The KGB cultivated Trump as an asset for 40 years, a former operative told The Guardian.

Yuri Shvets told The Guardian that the KGB had identified Trump as a potential asset in the 1980s.

Shvets said it was stunning when Trump took out an ad repeating anti-Western talking points after a trip to Moscow.

The KGB cultivated Donald Trump as an asset for 40 years, and he proved a highly valuable asset in repeating anti-Western Russian propaganda in the United States, a former KGB operative told The Guardian.

Yuri Shvets is a key source in "American Kompromat," a new book detailing the decades-long relationship between Trump and Russia by the journalist Craig Unger.

The book, which is based on interviews with former Russian and US operatives, details the KGB's attempts in the 1980s to cultivate dozens of unwitting businesspeople in the United States as useful Russian assets.

Shvets told The Guardian that the KGB had identified Trump, then an up-and-coming property developer, as a potential asset in the 1980s.

"This is an example where people were recruited when they were just students and then they rose to important positions; something like that was happening with Trump," Shvets told the paper.

The book's author said Trump became a target for the Russians in 1977 when he married his first wife, the Czech model Ivana Zelnickova.

"He was an asset. It was not this grand, ingenious plan that we're going to develop this guy and 40 years later he'll be president," Unger told The Guardian.

Unger added: "Trump was the perfect target in a lot of ways: his vanity, narcissism made him a natural target to recruit. He was cultivated over a 40-year period, right up through his election."

Trump's 1987 book, "The Art of the Deal," described a visit to Moscow to discuss building "a large luxury hotel across the street from the Kremlin in partnership with the Soviet government."

In fact, Shvets said, Russian operatives used the trip to flatter Trump and told him he should go into politics. Shvets told The Guardian that KGB operatives were then stunned to discover that Trump had returned to the United States, mulled a run for office, and taken out a full-page ad in several newspapers that echoed anti-Western Russian talking points.

The ad, which ran in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe, was titled "There's nothing wrong with America's Foreign Defense Policy that a little backbone can't cure."

The ad accused Japan and other countries of "taking advantage" of the United States and said the US should stop paying to defend other rich countries — arguments that would become the backbone of his foreign policy when he became president decades later.

Shvets said the ad was considered an "unprecedented" success in Russia's attempts to promote anti-Western talking points in American media.

Trump has long denied that he has any financial connections to Russia. "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me," he tweeted in 2017. "I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!"

The special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election ultimately found that Trump's campaign did not coordinate with Russia to influence the election.

Several senior members of Trump's campaign, including his national security advisor Michael Flynn and his campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors about their contacts with people linked to the Russian government.

Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, also pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to a Senate committee about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.