The President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin (PFFW), Mahlon Mitchell, announced this morning that he will run for the office of Lieutenant Governor in the upcoming recall election.
Mitchell is running to replace the current Lieutenent Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, the former television reporter best known politically for equating same sex marriage with marrying a table or a clock.
Members of the PFFW, including Mitchell, have maintained a strong presence at protests against Governor Scott Walker’s attacks on public employee unions and at rallies supporting the rights of public employees. Mitchell has spoken at numerous events over the past year and it was widely assumed he would be running for political office if the recall petition drives succeeded.
The race for Lieutenant Governor will probably include a primary which would be held on May 8th, then a general election on June 5th. Unlike regularly scheduled elections, candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor will be listed in separate contests, not grouped as a pair by party affiliation.
“I have been a fire fighter for 15 years. When firefighters see an emergency we respond. We respond because we care about our community. It’s a level of service and a calling that only a few decide to take. I look at being LT Gov as another part of this service. As fire fighters, we have a motto – all hands working. Every fire fighter on scene is doing a task or job to stabilize the tragedy. We need all hands working now in our community to deal with the emergency in Madison. ”
Later Senator Bernie Sanders, the man many consider to be the most outstanding progressive in Washington D.C., appeared at the Friday night kickoff event and he said thank you to a standing room crowd at the Barrymore Theater. Really, if his “thank you” were the only thing that happened to me, I would have been thrilled with the evening:
“You may know this, or you may not know this, but you have been the inspiration to the people of Vermont and people all over this country so thank you very much. What you have told America is that in these tough times, we are not going to let the crooks on Wall Street or the corporate bandits destroy this great nation. That when we say together and demand the creation of millions of good paying jobs, when we demand the transformation of our energy system, when we say loud and clear to Republicans and to some Democrats you are not going to cut Social Security, you are not going to cut Medicare, and that together standing together we are going to bring about a Medicare for all single payer healthcare – I am here tonight from the bottom of my heart to thank you, to thank your great firefighters, to thank your public employees for your leadership in inspiring us all. We are going to beat the right wing. We are going to create an America that works for all of our people. Thank you very much for your leadership. Thank you.”
Here’s the video of Senator Sanders’ thanks.
We also heard the familiar bagpipes of our local firefighters who’ve serenaded each of our rallies: Local 311. And speeches so fiery I could almost smell the brimstone.
Oddly enough, I especially perked up to hear Thom Hartmann say we are either about to experience bliss or destruction: either a resurgence in progressive energy like we’ve never seen before OR we are on the road to the death of progressive politics at the hands of the Republicans.
When he said this, the crowd did a little awkward wiggle in its collective seat. A few dry coughs were expelled. I am not doing justice to his speech at the moment. He also talked about the notion of libertarian “freedom” and how close it is to the freedom to die in the street like a dog. He also talked about the travails America went through even as early as the presidency of John Adams – a leader who turned out to be a tyrant. But I dwell on that note he gave – that we are on a precipice of some sort – because it was the perfect pinch of reality tossed into an evening of hyperbole and it’s what I’ve been thinking, too.
All of the speakers were dynamic. But Dennis Kucinich was possessed. Senator Kucinish is a very short and slight man. But after seeing him bounce with this much of the progressive holy spirit, I’d say you’d best not ever cross him. He sent us out into the night with this:
Youtuber Paul Baker (at last look) also has videos from the same evening of Jim Hightower, Stan Gruszynksi, and Phil Neuenfeldt – President of Wisconsin’s AFL-CIO.
The day of: Fighting Bob Fest
Fighting Bob Fest just about filled the vast Alliant Energy Center Auditorium. I really love twitter, facebook, this blog and the whole internet ball of wax. Yet there is nothing like the energy of being a human surrounded by thousands of other humans all hearing a message. We remain communal and enjoy each other in the flesh despite all of the technology we put between ourselves. Then also consider that there is an added layer of resonance when echoing at rock star volume before you in a stadium are these heroic people that the mass media usually keeps quiet [remember Senator Sanders’ fillibuster that went just about nowhere on conventional media?]. Seeing a respect and dignity granted to these progressive voices revives your own progressive political and fighting spirit. Heady stuff. And this is all thanks to Ed Garvey, who has been making Bob Fest happen for a decade now and who John Nichols credits for rebuilding the Democratic Party in Wisconsin.
Still, if I were to ask “How can Bob Fest be improved?” I’d have a few answers: add high speed internet to your site and add social media training. Add more young people, and draw in more people of color. Add more tactical ideas to take away and add ways for us to break down in groups so we’re networking at the level of each county in Wisconisn and/or geographic areas. I aknowledge that some of this was provided in the breakout sessions, and in its way, at the booths and informally.
I also think of the wisdom of @4SHCrane of twitter who said to me (paraphrasing): There are plenty of progressives. You can do all of the things you do not see at Bob Fest on your own.
I expect that WORT FM and Fighting Bob will in time have full audio and/or video of the speeches. When it’s up, that’ll be in part 2. For the moment, here are what I can provide or have access to:
A brief selection from Bernie Sanders’ speech. 4:57 minutes.
A brief selection from Mahlon Mitchell’s speech. Chanting included! This gives you a sense of how many people were there. You’ll see a lot of folks age 50 years and up. That’s about normal for Fighting Bob Fest.
30 minutes of archived Ustream footage from the protest against Walker’s budget. The video is a bit pixelated, but the audio is clear. Not bad for being broadcast from a phone.
FYI – There will be a 25 second ad at the beginning.
Mahlon Mitchell, President of the Wisconsin Professional Firefighters Association.
Phil Neuenfeldt, President of Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.
Mary Bell, President of Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC)
Madison Mother, Ellen Carlson.
Kim Hoffman, Middle School Teacher and Band Director from Stone Bank.