State Dems elect Laning chair

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin Democrats have elected Sheboygan businesswoman and community activist Martha Laning as the state party’s chairwoman.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports Laning won 53 percent of the vote from the more than 1,300 delegates who cast ballots during the state convention Saturday in Milwaukee.

The party’s current chairman, Mike Tate, wasn’t seeking another term.

Democratic National Committeeman Jason Rae of Milwaukee finished second with 32 percent of the vote, followed by former Democratic party chairman Joe Wineke of Verona. Another candidate, former state lawmaker Stephen Smith of Shell Lake, asked his supporters to back Laning.

Reeling from a string of high-profile ballot defeats, Democrats hope for a fresh start with a new leader, who plays a key fundraising role for the party and serves as its public face.

Laning was an unsuccessful candidate for the state Senate last November, losing to Republican Devin LeMahieu in the race for the 9th Senate District seat.

Prior to that, Laning served as executive director of the Plymouth Intergenerational Coalition and led the fundraising efforts to build the Generations intergenerational center in Plymouth.

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