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Wisconsin Democrats pick Ben Wikler as new leader of party ahead 2020 campaign
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Wisconsin Democrats pick Ben Wikler as new leader of party ahead 2020 campaign

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Former MoveOn.org leader Ben Wikler has been chosen as the new leader of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, the party announced Sunday.

Wikler will lead Democrats into the 2020 campaign in which Wisconsin is widely viewed as potentially decisive in the race for the White House.

“The Democratic Party of Wisconsin voted today to embrace a vision that can defeat (President Donald) Trump, elect Democrats up and down the ticket and end the GOP’s assault on Wisconsin values and Wisconsin families,” Wikler said.

Wikler was elected by a majority vote of more than 1,000 delegates at the state Democratic convention Sunday. The actual vote total was not provided.

The convention featured a keynote address from Gov. Tony Evers Saturday and speeches from U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, among others.

Wikler, a Madison native who moved back to his hometown late last year, has held a string of national political positions that included senior adviser and Washington director at the liberal grassroots group MoveOn.org. There, Wikler helped lead the successful organizing push in 2017 to halt the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Martha Laning, of Sheboygan, who has held the position since 2015, said in a statement that she has the “utmost confidence” that Wikler and his team will make Wisconsin Democrats proud.

“Their leadership will guide us through future victories, particularly as we work to deliver Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes to our future Democratic presidential nominee,” Laning said.

Wikler was competing against the party’s outgoing vice chairman, state Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, for the post. Bowen, a former Milwaukee County Board member and three-term lawmaker, has been vice chairman of the state party under Laning since 2015.

Also elected were Felesia Martin to the position of first vice chair and Lee Snodgrass to the position of second vice chair.

Martin said she wants to connect with Democrats in all parts of Wisconsin, both rural and urban. Snodgrass said she plans to push the party to organize across the state “24/7, 365.”

Wikler will serve a two-year term.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the gender of the pronoun referring to Lee Snodgrass. Snodgrass is a woman.]

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