Iron County Progressive


Protect Wisconsin from a Republican Veto-Proof Majority

By Kirk Bangstad

It’s times like these, you learn to live again
It’s time like these , you give and give again
It’s time like these, you learn to love again
It’s time like these, time and time again.
--Foo Fighters

Time and time again, like every two years when elections come around, it seems like we have to go to extraordinary lengths to hold onto some semblance of American life that most of us over the age of 40 took for granted if we grew up in Wisconsin.
Our public schools were great. Our small towns were full of decent jobs. Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather were reliable news sources that we watched at 6 pm every night. And best of all, we still believed that if we elected decent people that worked together for the good of their constituents, we could fix anything that was wrong with our country and each generation would have it better than their parents.
Every two years, we cling to the hope that if we work hard enough to elect the right people, we can remove the cancer that has overtaken American politics and get healthy again.
I’ve been fighting this fight in my own way almost every day for the last two years after watching our capital get attacked on January 6, and I have to say I’m a bit tired.
I really don’t want to work this hard and worry this much about losing what I believe should be a normal way of life in Wisconsin and America. It’s exhausting and doesn’t have to be this way.
If we had two political parties instead of a Democratic Party and a “Cult of Personality,” and if we reduced the insane amount of dark money in politics and eliminated gerrymandering so that everyone’s vote truly counted, I believe our “new normal” would be government stability, middle class prosperity, and less dire election cycles.
But we’re not there yet, and even though I’m tired of fighting and tired of all the negativity, I know that if those like me who refuse to accept a government based on lies and corruption give up, our days will only get much darker.
So in the spirit of grinding away to save Wisconsin, I want to introduce another issue that could truly screw up our state, and in turn, screw up America because Wisconsin is pivotal to the presidential election in 2 years. The issue is that we're dangerously close to a Republican veto-proof legislative super-majority.
What does that term mean? It means that in a state where Joe Biden won by 20K votes in 2020, the Republicans have gerrymandered Wisconsin so badly that they could win a super-majority in the state legislature that would be able to override a governor’s veto and open the floodgates of crazy.
So in this post, I’m NOT going to ask you to donate money to my Super PAC. I’m going to ask you to donate money to 5 Wisconsin Assembly and Senate candidates that I’ve been told CAN’T LOSE or else the Republicans will be able run roughshod over Governor Evers, who is the only person able to protect us from legislation that would upend Wisconsin’s democracy and steal victory from a Democratic presidential candidate in 2024.

Let’s start in my neck of the woods with two candidates running in a historically progressive part of Northern Wisconsin that were handed a terrible gerrymander in last year’s redistricting battle. Superior is the largest city in this region and is home to state university UW-Superior and is right next the Duluth, a progressive bastion of Minnesota.  We REALLY have to hold onto these seats. 
The candidate for State Senate in this area is Kelly Westlund.  I know Kelly personally and she’s a strong fighter for progressive values. Here’s a link to donate to her campaign.
The Assembly candidate in this area is Laura Gapske.  In normal times, she’d probably win pretty easily, but the district has been gerrymandered and her opponent is a vicious election-denier who has encouraged her followers to threaten and intimidate Gapske.  If Gapske’s opponent wins, we’d have elected Wisconsin’s version of Marjorie Taylor Greene.  Here is a link to donate to Laura’s campaign

Another candidate “Up North” is my friend Sarah Yacoub, who helped organize a lot of the work we’ve done at the Minocqua Brewing Company Super Pac.  She’s running against Shannon Zimmerman, who until the last Republican gerrymander didn’t even live in his district, and is an abortion extremist--no exceptions for rape and Incest.  Here’s is the link to donate to her campaign.
Although these next two races aren’t in Northern Wisconsin, I’ve been told they are equally important to win in order to stop the Republicans from getting a veto-proof majority in the state legislature.

Lori Palmeri, the former Mayor of Oshkosh, is running in that area’s assembly race—this is her Website and link to donate.
Tip McGuire is running in the Kenosha area—read about his campaign and donate here.
The Foo Fighters said it best. "It's times like these we give and give again"--both financially and with our volunteer efforts. Folks, we have to do the work of electing decent people to protect democracy in Wisconsin, even though it’s expensive, tiring, and feels like an ever-present existential crisis.
It will only stop being a crisis when the Republican Party rejects the authoritarian strain that has metastasized within them and expels the grifters that benefit by lying to the rank and file. Unfortunately that has to come from within.  They need to "Choose Reason Over Treason," a motto we just put on a t-shirt.
But until they come to their senses, we just have to keep pushing this Sisyphean rock uphill to stabilize our government as best we can.
Try to donate a little money to each of these candidates I’ve listed. A little bit goes a long way in these small statewide races.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for sticking with us. Together, we can make Wisconsin NORMAL again—One Beer at a Time.
Kirk Bangstad
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC


Weekly News From Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair








Eric Toney to Unleash Roving Abortion-Ban Enforcers


On Monday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Republican Attorney General candidate Eric Toney would allow district attorneys to cross county lines to enforce Wisconsin’s 1849 criminal abortion ban in neighboring jurisdictions — something DAs are currently not allowed to do.


Eric Toney has been an outspoken supporter of Wisconsin’s pre-Civil War abortion ban that doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest, but to propose allowing district attorneys to prosecute cases outside of their jurisdictions is a new low. Attorney General Kaul will not divert critical resources from public safety to prosecute Wisconsin’s archaic abortion ban and has even challenged the law in court. He believes the decision whether to receive an abortion should be left to a patient and their doctor — not politicians.


Democrats Are Working For Wisconsin


This week, Democrats up and down the ballot were hard at work for Wisconsin. Take a look below at some of the highlights of their busy week!

  • State Sen. Jeff Smith is fighting hard to keep western Wisconsin blue. His opponent, Dave Estenson, is an ultra-MAGA insurrectionist with a record of abuse allegations while Sen. Smith is a true public servant and democracy defender who has a plan to invest in rural Wisconsin. Check out Chair Wikler’s Twitter thread to learn more about Sen. Smith.
  • Rep. Lee Snodgrass is running for re-election in Appleton to bring affordable health care, quality public education, safe communities, and rural broadband to the Fox Valley. Check out her priorities and lend her campaign a hand!
  • This week, the Democrat running for Congressional District 1 Ann Roe met Rep. Bryan Steil on the debate stage — and mopped the floor with him. You can listen to the debate here if you missed it the first time, and check out Ann’s recap of all the things Steil got wrong.
  • The Student Loan Debt Relief application went live this week, two months after President Biden announced his plan to forgive up to $10,000 of student loan debt and up to $20,000 for recipients of Pell Grants for Americans making less than $125,000 a year. Apply now and spread the word so others can take advantage of this relief!



A MUST Read by Kirk Bangstad

In a little over a month, the results of Wisconsin’s elections will define the soul of our state, and by extension, the soul of America.
Because we are one of only a handful of swing states that decide our presidential elections and determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.
If Democrats lose the governor’s race in Wisconsin, we can be reasonably sure that Republican dominance over our three branches of government will cancel the “will of the people” in future elections.
If Democrats lose the race for U.S. Senate, we might not be able to protect our country against future insurrections nor help women get their reproductive rights back.
But let’s get back to the soul of Wisconsin. How does one define the SOUL of a state?  I can’t really explain it, but I know that I can feel it.
I feel the soul of Wisconsin because I grew up in Stevens Point, and I sense that my middle-class upbringing is similar to many others who grew up in the hundreds of small towns that comprise our state.  I think this shared experience is a big contributor to our collective “soul.”
Similarly, I presume my “Christian-lite” upbringing was probably a lot like other folks in rural Wisconsin. I didn’t go to church all the time, but I went a lot of the time—especially when my musical parents needed an extra voice in the choir.
Like most of us, I only started paying attention to religion when I got older and started needing more “light” and “goodness” in my life.  Somewhere along the line, I read Matthew 5: 3-12, otherwise known as the Beatitudes, and along with the 10 Commandments, those verses became the “Cliff’s Notes” to my moral code.
Let’s just say if I was feeling adrift or guilty about some bad decisions I had made, I would often read the Beatitudes to get myself back on track, and if possible, try to get back to church.
I guess I can say my soul has been shaped by Christianity, and although I still question a lot of the church’s teachings, I’m proud to call myself a Christian.
I know there are a lot of other proud Christians in our state, and I’m hoping the next part of my letter resonates with you regardless of your politics.
As I think about the soul of Wisconsin and how we’ve all been thrown into political chaos over the last few years, I wish those politicians who profess to be Christians would read the Beatitudes because SO MANY of them are doing the exact opposite of what those sacred verses tell us to do.
Here are a few examples:
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
The mother of vigilante murderer Kyle Rittenhouse was given a standing ovation by the Waukesha Republican Party.  What an “un-Christian” response to all those who were mourning the deaths of not only Rittenhouse’s targets, but also mourning those who were the targets of police brutality that lead to the Kenosha riots and unrest around the country—Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Brionna Taylor, and several others.

Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth.”
Last March, the 4-3 right-wing Wisconsin Supreme Court, supported by a 6-3 right-wing U.S. Supreme Court, handed the Republican party the most gerrymandered political maps that Wisconsin has ever seen.
This gerrymander essentially rendered the “meek,” or the average voter in Wisconsin, powerless to have their voices represented in our state legislature. 
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”
This August, Senator Ron Johnson admitted that he was part of the seditious conspiracy to overthrow the presidential election by attempting to pass fake elector ballots from Wisconsin and Michigan to Vice President Mike Pence.
Not only did Ron Johnson commit a crime that day, but the entire Republican Party of Wisconsin still refuse to acknowledge his criminal behavior or the fraud that many of their members committed as “fake electors.”
Where are those in the Republican Party who thirst for righteousness and justice? We need you right now, because your leaders aren’t being held accountable.
Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
In June, Wisconsin Republican Governor candidate Tim Michaels said he supported Wisconsin’s 1849 law banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest.  He’s held that position since 2004 when he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate, and has donated $175K to anti-abortion groups. He recently flip-flopped on this issue after polling showed that most Wisconsinites abhor this ancient law.
We know his recent flip-flop is a lie, and that he holds an absolutely “un-Christian” view that women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest should be shown NO MERCY and instead be forced to carry a pregnancy under awful circumstances.
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Sons of God.”
In December 2021, Northern Wisconsin Congressman Tom Tiffany was the sole Wisconsin Republican to back Texas’ lawsuit seeking to overturn Wisconsin’s election results.  He later appeared on-stage with right-wing firebrand Vicki McKenna when she “called for war” to overturn the presidential election.
Had Tiffany and the other 106 Republican Congressmen who backed this lawsuit succeeded, they would have thrown America into a constitutional crises that would have undoubtedly led to war. 
Additionally, Republican congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden went to the insurrection on January 6th looking for violence.
It was simply “un-Christian” for these Republicans to stoke the flames of violence instead of searching for ways to use their bully pulpits for peace.
Fellow Christians who typically lean more conservative than I do, please resist the temptation to reflexively come back with “But What About gas prices?”  “But What About Hunter’s laptop?”  “But What About the latest thing Tucker Carlson said?”
Please think about what has happened to the morality of the state of Wisconsin, which has ostensibly been under Republican rule since 2010.  Yes, we have a Democratic governor, but his wings have been clipped by the other two Republican-dominated branches of government.
We have become mean, deceitful, corrupt, selfish, and generally have lost our way.
And we can’t “both-sides-are-responsible” our way out of this. No, the Republican party is responsible, and their moral code is entirely “un-Christian.” 
This is the truth, and there’s no other way to tell it.
We have to right this ship on November 8 by focusing on our shared morality which, for many of you in rural Wisconsin, is a morality shaped by Christian values.
To those Christians reading this, if you focus on the Beatitudes, I think you’ll find you need to vote blue this November. 
Thanks for reading, especially those that aren’t Christian.  This letter wasn’t really meant for you, but I hope you understand why I felt the need to write it.
Together, regardless of what we hold sacred, our morals are largely the same and we must let them lead the way in order to heal the soul of Wisconsin.
Kirk Bangstad
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC






Weekly News From Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair 

 Sometimes people in politics get into arguments about tactics.
“Press conferences and rallies are fine, but what really moves people is 30-second TV ads.”   “Forget TV ads—knock on doors!” “Forget knocking on doors, put up some signs!” “Signs don’t vote—make phone calls!” “Phone calls?! Put some ads on the radio!” “Radio? This is 2022! Get some ads on YouTube!” “YouTube schmewtube… we need ads on broadcast TV!” “People ignore ads! What you need is to make news!” 
Ever notice how these arguments go around in circles? 
The truth is, everyone is half right: in an uncertain world, the best strategy is to outwork the other side… in every single arena possible. 
In 50-50 Wisconsin, it takes everything—everything—to win. And even then, there are factors outside your control. Which is an argument to do even more.  
That’s been our aim at the WisDems. A comms team that organized local events generating thousands of stories throughout Wisconsin over the last two years? Check. Organizing, in rural and suburban and urban Wisconsin alike, year-round, doors, and phones and relational? Check. Statewide sign distribution? Check. Ads on more than 85 radio stations, covering every region of rural Wisconsin, Black- and Latino-oriented outlets, starting months before even the primary? Check. A full-spectrum communications operation spanning digital, broadcast, cable, mail, print, and everything else we can think of? Check, check, check. 
And it’s not just the party. Centrally, critically, it’s the candidates’ campaigns themselves. And it’s the grassroots groups, unions, independent organizations, and allies in every corner of the state. We’ve won race after race over the last three years because, when it mattered most, we’ve all pulled together. And that’s exactly the plan this time. 
The laws vary from race to race. In state races—from Governor to state legislature—state parties have tremendous legal flexibility to support campaigns. Meanwhile, in federal races, like the Senate and House campaigns, Federal Elections Commission rules mean that the state party isn’t allowed to meaningfully fund TV ads. That has to come from the campaigns and independent groups. Mandela Barnes, Brad Pfaff, Ann Roe, and our other federal candidates are working their hearts out—and it’s time for all of us to stand with them. As anyone who has turned on a screen in the last month has seen, the far-right special interests who benefit financially from keeping Ron Johnson in power have flooded our state with divisive, dishonest, and hateful attack ads—now to the tune of a $9 million spending gap. But Mandela, his team, and his allies have been working around the clock to assemble the resources needed for a powerhouse counterpunch. And we know the punch can pack a wallop: from his attacks on Social Security to co-sponsoring eight different national abortion bans, Ron Johnson has profound vulnerabilities, and every Wisconsinites should know about them. To everyone who has clicked on an email to chip in, answered a phone call, or opened up their home for a fundraiser—thank you. Let’s keep both feet on the gas.
Meanwhile, we have to keep leading with our values. Governor Evers has called a special session of the state legislature for this Tuesday to take up his proposal for a referendum process—so that Wisconsinites could actually vote on whether to ban abortion. To get a sense of what this could mean, take a look at Kansas. 
Precisely because Republicans don’t want their own voters to have a say over their own bodies, we can guess what the GOP will do. 
This is go time. This is all-hands-on-deck time. In race after race, the polling is neck and neck. It’s only going to get more intense. But given the stakes—freedom, democracy, bodily autonomy, safety, prosperity, the core idea of America, and progress or regression on every issue we care about—that’s only appropriate.
In these final 39 days, let’s focus on doing everything we can possibly do. And let’s win. 
In solidarity,


LG Nominee Sara Rodriguez, Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Sen. Kelda Roys Highlight Gov. Evers’ Abortion Referendum Special Session
Yesterday, Lieutenant Governor Nominee Sara Rodriguez, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and State Senator Kelda Roys came together to support Gov. Evers’ Special Session to restore abortion access in Wisconsin and highlighted the importance of following the will of the people – who overwhelmingly oppose the radical 1849 criminal ban.
Tim Michels has been silent on Gov. Evers’ special session, but that’s no surprise. Michels has previously called the 1849 criminal abortion ban an “exact mirror” of his position and has proudly bragged about how deeply “unpopular” his agenda is with Wisconsinites.
Meanwhile, Republicans in the State Legislature have already reasserted their extreme anti-choice agenda and promised to reject Gov. Evers’ Special Session next Tuesday. 
Rep. Rodriguez, Treasurer Godlewski, and Sen. Roys decried Republicans’ out-of-touch agenda and encouraged Wisconsinites to call their legislators to tell them to support Gov. Evers’ proposal.
Ron Against Roe: Mandela Barnes Launches Statewide Tour, Holds Ron Johnson Accountable On Dangerous Abortion Record
Yesterday, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes announced the “Ron Against Roe” tour to hold Ron Johnson accountable for his record of working to rip away Wisconsinites’ ability to access abortion by co-sponsoring eight national abortion bans during his time in the Senate and confirming judges that are staunchly opposed to reproductive freedom, including abortion and contraception access.
Lt. Gov. Barnes is committed to enshrining Roe v. Wade as federal law and believes that lawmakers should not interfere with personal medical decisions that should be made between an individual and their doctor. The Ron Against Roe tour provide a stark contrast between Ron Johnson’s dangerous record on abortion and Lt. Gov. Barnes’ commitment to protecting reproductive health care.

Retirees Call Out Ron Johnson For Threatening To Cut Social Security

Today, ahead of Ron Johnson’s weekend visit to their city, La Crosse retirees held a press conference calling Johnson out for threatening to cut Social Security and putting tens of thousands of Wisconsin seniors at risk of losing their livelihood.
Ron Johnson has called Social Security a “Ponzi Scheme,” even going as far as to suggest raising the retirement age, and calling for Social Security to be put on the chopping block every single year. Wisconsin retirees made clear that they’re done with Johnson’s threats to Social Security and are ready to retire him this November.

AG Kaul Prioritizes Public Safety In Next State Budget

On Tuesday, Attorney General Kaul announced his budget request for the 2023-2025 biennium, seeking a 10.5 percent increased investment in the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s work to fight crime. This budget reflects AG Kaul’s commitment to public safety as his number one priority, with increased funding for local law enforcement, school safety, and resources to help communities across the state fight the opioid epidemic.
It’s telling that Eric Toney can’t seem to find anything to complain about in AG Kaul’s budget, and has refused to say whether he would stand up to his own party and push for a shared revenue increase in the next budget to fund local law enforcement. Instead of offering actual solutions, Eric Toney has fallen back on tired political attacks.

Democrats Are Working For Wisconsin

This week, Democrats up and down the ballot were hard at work for Wisconsin. Take a look below at some of the highlights of their busy week!
Attorney General Josh Kaul and the DOJ's Office of School Safety released the second annual report on the success of the Speak Up, Speak Out school safety tip line. This report showed that DOJ’s trained analysts had received 136 potentially life-saving tips in just the last year. Speak Up Speak Out encourages students to take ownership in their school’s safety. 
Sen. Jeff Smith has dedicated his life to public service in western Wisconsin, having spent nearly 40 years fighting for clean water, fair wages, and public school funding in the Chippewa Valley. See how you can help Jeff win this November and lend his campaign a hand!
Mayor Lori Palmeri is running to represent Oshkosh and the 54th Assembly District in Madison. Lori will fight for fair wages and taxes, affordable housing, and strong public schools in the State Legislature. Get involved with her campaign!