December 9, 2023

Hello Tim,

This newsletter shares information on redistricting reform, legislative action on SLAPP lawsuits, and congratulations to our State senator. We also offer a review of 2023 progressive victories as well as a stern warning for 2024. We also wish to remind folks of important program at the Mt. Horeb Library tomorrow.

Mount Horeb Public Library Event

(105 Perimeter Road, Mount Horeb, WI)

The evening with Professor Nadav Shelef, UW-Madison, will explore the ups and downs of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over time, the current strategies of the participants, and where we go from here.

Nadav Shelef is the Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Israel Studies and Professor of Political Science. He teaches and studies nationalism, religion and politics, Israeli politics and society, and middle east politics. His current projects focus on understanding how homelands change and the conditions under which religious parties moderate their positions.

For further information go to


Democrat Dianne Hesselbein elected new Senate minority leader

Senate Democrats chose Hesselbein to lead their caucus as Sen. Melissa


Sen. Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, will serve as the next Senate Minority Leader after being elected by her colleagues at a meeting of the caucus on Friday afternoon.

Her election comes one day after Sen Melissa Agard, D-Madison, announced she is stepping down from the leadership post.

The transition comes as the Wisconsin Supreme Court is due to rule on a challenge to the state legislative maps that could fundamentally shift party power in the Legislature and offer the vastly-outnumbered Democrats an opportunity to seize some seats.

Hesselbein, who currently serves as the Democratic caucus' vice chair, was elected by her colleagues in a vote that took place over a Zoom meeting late Friday afternoon, and was not open to outside observers, including the media.

She was elected to the Assembly in 2012 and to the Senate in 2022.

Democrats are currently firmly in the minority in both the Assembly and Senate. If the existing maps, which heavily favor Republicans, are overturned by the high court, legislative Democrats could gain many more seats and undo a Republican supermajority in the Senate, with an eye towards potentially building their own majority.

This Holiday Up North post appeared November 15.

To follow Up North News go to Click Here.

Welcome to the holiday season! This time of year, we’re busy–buying gifts, tying up loose ends, and reflecting on the year that was while anticipating the new one ahead. Here’s a look back at three of the best political headlines to come out of Wisconsin in 2023:

Janet Protasiewicz wins “the most important election of 2023decisively. 

Her addition to the Wisconsin state Supreme Court flipped the court’s ideological majority–giving liberals the upper hand on a court that could decide everything from fair legislative maps to abortion access and election integrity. Protasiewicz ended up winning more than 55% of the vote and not just in progressive strongholds like Madison and Milwaukee, but in many smaller cities and rural counties. 

Young voters realize the impact they have and make it happen… again. 

Wisconsin’s 18-24 year-olds set the bar for national young voter turnout in the 2022 midterms, and in April 2023, they raised it even higher. Wisconsin Democrats significantly improved their performance on college campuses in the state Supreme Court election. For example, while Gov. Tony Evers won 56% of UW-La Crosse students’ votes in November 2022, Protasiewicz won 75%. And those numbers were replicated at campuses across the state.

State Republicans and Democrats finally some find common ground. 

The bipartisanship happening in Washington is trickling down to Wisconsin. After President Biden made headlines for racking up more bipartisan victories than any president of either party in a generation, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and legislative Republicans forged better relationships to put some of the state’s $6.9 billion surplus to use

What’s Next? 

The 2024 US presidential election is set for Tuesday November 5, and for the third cycle in a row, Wisconsin voters could decide the outcome. Specifically, suburban voters.

As cities become bluer and country towns become redder, the most contested turf can be found in the suburbs. Most of these communities have been trending towards Democrats since the Trump era, but that’s far from a sure thing this November.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel used 30 years of suburban voting data to determine the following:

  • 30% of Wisconsin voters live in the “core suburbs.”
  • The Madison suburbs have gone from 10 points bluer than the rest of the state to 40 points bluer.
  • Washington County’s suburbs have gone in the opposite direction–from about 25 points redder than the state as a whole to 40 points redder.
  • A majority of Wisconsin suburbs have moved in the same direction since 2014–away from the Republican party. Click here to see how much and why.




Dale Shultz on Fair Maps!

For the past decade, Wisconsin has been one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation — that’s a fact. Now, we’re closer than ever to restoring the promise of representative democracy to our state.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday, November 21, challenging the constitutionality of the existing legislative maps. Here’s why that’s important:

As a Republican who served over two decades in the Wisconsin Legislature, I know how important it is that legislators be a voice for their constituents — after all, that’s the job we’re elected to do. But after years of maps drawn with surgical precision to protect legislators and partisan control of the chambers, it’s easier than ever for lawmakers to turn their back on bipartisan work that advances the common good of their districts.

As a result, we see intense partisanship, fewer competitive elections, special interests tightening their grip, and Wisconsin families left without the voice they deserve.

The truth is, the maps shouldn’t favor either party. Fair maps are more than just a slogan. They’re the belief that legislative boundaries should accurately reflect the people of our state. They shouldn’t be drawn to keep a particular party or legislator in power.

That’s why I’ve been fighting so hard to advocate for fair maps.

The Supreme Court is considering a serious and thoughtful challenge to the current maps. After listening to oral arguments, justices will give a fair and impartial hearing to the important questions in front of them, and make a decision about whether our maps are constitutionally sound.

They’re considering important arguments about legislative powers, the promise of a representative democracy and more. These arguments can’t be taken lightly.

If they find these maps unconstitutional, we’ll finally have the opportunity to stand up against partisanship and deliver the government the people of Wisconsin deserve. New maps that fairly reflect the will of the people can help deliver a government that’s more responsive to the needs of Wisconsinites. New maps can bring a more honest and open dialogue about the issues in front of us.

I’ll be watching this case closely and look forward to a brighter future for our state where people are put ahead of partisanship once again.

Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, is former majority leader of the state Senate. He served in the Senate from 1991-2015 and in Assembly from 1982-1991.

Hear Dale Shultz on Hear and Now talk discuss the importance of Fair District Mapping @


Your local progressive organization recently renewed its email newsletter provider contract to bring you these timely newsletters. In addition to that yearly cost, we rely on donations to fund progressive programming, operate the SWWAP website, and provide important updates. Rest assured SWWAP and the Mount Horeb Progressive Trolls will be very active in 2024 helping to turn out every available progressive vote. Can you help?




Send check made out to SWWAP to:

SWWAP Treasurer, Carol Larsen

9593 Overland Rd, Mount Horeb WI, 53572



The warning signs are many. SWWAP urges all to take a stake in democracy in 2024. Support efforts to turn out progressive voters next year. Be it feet on the ground canvassing or financial support, the consequences of elections in 2024 are too important to sit on the sidelines.

Rachel Maddow — Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism - with Susan Glasser


Protect Free Speech for

Student Journalists


(Testimony of Nick Ramos, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, supporting AB 551/SB 571 before the State Senate Committee on Universities and Revenue on December 5.)

Mister Chairman and other distinguished members of the Committee,

My name is Nick Ramos and I am the proud executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which since 1995, has been tracking and exposing the money in Wisconsin politics and advocating for a full range of pro-democracy reforms.

Our freedom of speech is a sacred right that must be protected.

That is why we support AB 551/SB 571.

Since the beginning of my tenure at the Democracy Campaign, I have consistently used the phrase “everyone deserves a seat at the table” when analyzing the legislation that has been proposed by you and your colleagues in the legislature.

Because if we are serious about Wisconsin being the best state in the country when it comes equity and opportunity, that methodology ought to be the foundation of any bills created by our lawmakers.

With AB 551/SB 571, these bills provide our student journalists across Wisconsin an additional layer of protection to ensure our students are not punished for reporting the news.

Student journalists should be able to exercise their freedom of speech without fear of retaliation or repercussions.

These bills strengthen free speech rights for student journalists, within their respective schools, and these bills clearly illustrate what speech is unprotected speech.

Our journalists are a vital part of our society, and they must be protected.

I look at these bills and I’m happy to see that there is bipartisanship for this important issue.

Creating legislation that protects Wisconsinites’ First Amendment rights should not be controversial.

Back in August of this year, Senator Melissa Agard and Representative Jimmy Anderson introduced legislation very similar to the bills that we are discussing today.

However, their bill does not have the same level of bipartisanship.

Their anti-SLAPP bill would strengthen journalists’ free speech rights by protecting them from frivolous lawsuits.

Wisconsin is one of 19 states that does not have an anti-SLAPP law in place.

If we are going to practice what we preach when it comes to protecting free speech rights for our journalists, this legislature should also work together to get that anti-SLAPP bill to Governor Evers so he can sign it into law.

If we truly value the First Amendment here in Wisconsin, we need to join the other states across the country that have enacted anti-SLAPP laws.

We appreciate this committee opening its doors to the people and our hope is that you all will listen deeply and continue to advance pro-democracy legislation.