Rep. Bowen Reflects On State, Presidential Election Outcomes | Wisconsin Public Television

Rep. Bowen Reflects On State, Presidential Election Outcomes

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Premiere Date: 
November 11, 2016

Rep. Bowen Reflects On State, Presidential Election Outcomes

Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, talks about turnout and election results in and around his district. The state Legislature now has the largest Republican majority since the 1950s. Bowen gives his perspective as to why Democrats saw the losses that they did this week.

Episode Transcript

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

STRENGTHENED REPUBLICAN MAJORITIES AT THE STATE HOUSE IN WISCONSIN LEAVE MINORITY DEMOCRATS EVERMORE DIMINISHED. THE DEMOCRAT PARTY OF WISCONSIN TOOK A LASHING IN TUESDAY'S ELECTION, FROM THE TOP OF THE TICKET ON DOWN. BUT WHY? FOR PERSPECTIVE ON THAT, WE TURN TO VICE-CHAIR OF THE PARTY AND STATE DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE FROM MILWAUKEE, DAVID BOWEN. REPRESENTATIVE, THANKS VERY MUCH FOR BEING HERE.

DAVID BOWEN:

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME. I'M HONORED TO BE HERE.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

WELL, I DON'T HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTERS COUNTED ON MILWAUKEE, AND IN MILWAUKEE TURNOUT WAS 60,000 FEWER VOTES THAN IN 2012. WHAT HAPPENED?

DAVID BOWEN:

WELL, I THINK YOU SAW A NUMBER OF FACTORS. YOU SAW SO MUCH SUPPORT FOR THE TOP OF THE TICKET ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE OF FOLKS THAT WERE COMING OUT TO VOTE, SOME WHO HAVEN'T VOTED IN A WHILE. BUT YOU ALSO SAW, YOU KNOW, A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO, EVEN IF THEY WERE ENGAGED TO VOTE IN THE ELECTION, THEY WERE UP AGAINST FACTORS LIKE VOTER I.D. THEY WERE UP AGAINST A LOT OF FACTORS IN, YOU KNOW, SEEING THIS -- THE ABILITY TO PAINT OUR CANDIDATE AS AN ESTABLISHMENT-LIKE CANDIDATE, AS A CANDIDATE OF THE STATUS QUO THAT WE COULD NOT GET OUT OF. AND IT IS A YEAR THAT PEOPLE WERE FOCUSED ON TRYING TO HAVE CHANGE. IT WAS REALLY TOUGH FOR US TO GET OUT OF THAT WITH OUR CANDIDATE.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

WHAT EFFECT DO YOU THINK THE FACT THAT HILLARY CLINTON DID NOT VISIT HERE DURING THE GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN HAD ON THAT TURNOUT IN MILWAUKEE?

DAVID BOWEN:

WELL, I THINK, YOU KNOW, IT'S POSSIBLE THAT DEFINITELY COULD HAVE HAD SOME EFFECT. WE SAW OUR REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES ACROSS THE AISLE FOCUS HEAVILY ON WISCONSIN, FOCUS HEAVILY ON RUST BELT CITIES, RUST BELT LOCATIONS. AND, YOU KNOW, WE MADE DECISIONS ON OUR SIDE WITH OUR -- THOSE THAT WERE LEADING THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS OF A DIFFERENT STRATEGY. AND WE CAN CLEARLY SEE THAT THEIR STRATEGY WAS TO FOCUS ELSEWHERE.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

NOW, GOING INTO THIS, A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE TALKED ABOUT POLLING IN THIS ELECTION. GOING INTO THIS IN WISCONSIN, HILLARY CLINTON HAD A SIX-POINT LEAD. DO YOU THINK THAT LED TO COMPLACENCY ON THE PART OF VOTERS?

DAVID BOWEN:

IT'S DEFINITELY POSSIBLE THAT IT CREATED COMPLACENCY EVEN AMONG THE CAMPAIGN TO THINK THAT WE JUST HAD IT IN THE BAG. BUT I KNOW A NUMBER OF FOLKS THAT HAD IT IN THEIR MIND. IT WAS HARD FOR THEM TO REALLY UNDERSTAND OR BELIEVE THAT DONALD TRUMP COULD EARN THE VOTES OF THE MAJORITY OF THIS COUNTRY, THAT HE HAD A REAL SHOT AT WINNING. AND I DON'T THINK IT'S SOMETHING TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY. I FOR ONE, I BELIEVE THAT HE HAD A CHANCE. BUT THERE WERE A LOT OF FOLKS THAT THOUGHT THAT THERE WAS JUST NO WAY, AND I THINK IT AFFECTED THEIR DECISION-MAKING.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

ARE DEMOCRATS NOT SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE OF THE CURRENT DAY VOTERS IN WISCONSIN, GIVEN THE ROUT FROM TOP TO BOTTOM?

DAVID BOWEN:

WELL, YOU KNOW WHAT? I THINK THERE ARE SOME CHALLENGES. AND I THINK THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN, THEY ARE TIRED OF BEING SCREWED OVER BY SOME FORCES THAT HAVE AFFECTED THEIR LIVELIHOODS AND THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS AND THEIR COMMUNITIES AND THEIR ECONOMIES. I THINK ALSO AS DEMOCRATS WE KNOW THAT WE ARE CHAMPIONING THE ISSUES THAT MATTER TO THEM, BUT THERE HAS TO BE A CONNECTION, RIGHT, TO GET THE VOTERS TO UNDERSTAND THAT THOSE SAME ISSUES THAT WE'RE CHAMPIONING MEANS THAT WE DESERVE THEIR SUPPORT, THAT WE NEED TO RUN ON PROGRESSIVE AGENDAS OF CHANGE. AND I DON'T KNOW IF THAT WAS REFLECTED IN THIS ELECTION CYCLE.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

IN FACT, YOU WERE A BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER.

DAVID BOWEN:

I WAS.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

DO YOU FEEL AS THOUGH HE COULD HAVE WON THE PRESIDENCY?

DAVID BOWEN:

WELL, I THINK BERNIE SANDERS, HE HIGHLIGHTED A PROGRESSIVE AGENDA AND MESSAGE THAT REALLY RESONATED WITH FOLKS, ESPECIALLY OF WORKING CLASS, WHO ARE REALLY SUFFERING UNDER THE OBSTRUCTIONISM. I THINK THAT ACTUALLY WENT UNDER THE RADAR. WE DID NOT REALLY FOCUS ON THE FACT THAT IT IS THE SAME FOLKS ON THE OTHER SIDE, THOSE SAME REPUBLICANS, THAT CONTINUE TO OBSTRUCT AND CREATE A PROCESS WHERE WE AREN'T GETTING THINGS DONE. AND WE JUST HAD AN ELECTION WHERE THEY PAINTED US AS STATUS QUO. AND THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN NO WAY THAT WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THAT CORNER. WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIGHTING TO MAKE SURE THAT VOTERS UNDERSTOOD THAT WHEN IT CAME TO BIG MONEY IN POLITICS, THAT'S SCREWING UP, RIGHT, THE WHOLE PROCESS OF HAVING REPRESENTATIVES AND ELECTEDS THAT ACTUALLY WORK FOR THE INTERESTS OF THEIR CONSTITUENTS AND NOT BIG MONEY INTERESTS. WHEN IT COMES TO ACTUALLY RECOGNIZING THE FACT THAT, YOU KNOW, IF YOU DON'T RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE, IF YOU DON'T ADD IN PAID SICK LEAVE, THAT PEOPLE WILL CONTINUE NOT TO HAVE THE CHANCE TO REACH THE ECONOMIC LADDER FURTHER. IT'S BEEN OUT OF REACH. AND PEOPLE FEEL LIKE THEY'RE BEING SCREWED OVER. AND I THINK WE REALLY SHOULD HAVE HONED IN, LIKE BERNIE SANDERS DID, ON THE FACT THAT PEOPLE WERE BEING SCREWED OVER.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

WE NEED TO LEAVE IT THERE, REPRESENTATIVE DAVID BOWEN.

DAVID BOWEN:

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

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