In The News
Young Riemer stresses own voice in first campaign
By Dominique Paul Noth
Editor, Milwaukee Labor Press
Posted July 24, 2012
At Milwaukee's Rufus King High School, at Illinois college, it was others who talked of Daniel Riemer's people skills and saw a political future. Like most young people he had other concerns. But certainly he had the family grooming - father David worked for Gov. Doyle, ran for County Executive and today is a widely consulted policy expert as director of Community Advocates
But as his father proudly points out, "Daniel is also his mother's son and that's a big part of the influence" and Ellie has been active in the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA).
Today Daniel is carving his own individual views and ambitions in his first foray into politics while his family friends show support by fund-raising. In Assembly District 7 he is the unexpected young energy stumping for office, recognized for both independent views and progressive ideals on public service and strongly criticizing the divisive atmosphere in Madison and the "demoralizing" attacks on public education.
As he has tirelessly been doing the doors he had an unintended gift from the GOP -- many residents are surprised to know what district they are now in and that there's a contest.
The GOP redistricted mainly to add conservative streets in nearby competitive districts. So Riemer now has a region expanded from Greenfield and West Milwaukee to more of West Allis and Milwaukee -- which means many know little about the longtime District 7 incumbent he must beat Aug. 14, Peggy Krusick.
""Most of the doors I'm the first person telling them about the new makeup" of the district, he told the interviewer.
At a recent political rally, he was gently teased by another active, young but more established politico, State Sen. Chris Larson, who told him to "start wearing running shoes - you're going to need them at the doors."
Riemer laughed recalling that moment but also credited Larson with some wise advice.
"People assume I share my father's positions, so I ask them to ask me instead -- since we disagree on some things such as education," he said. "But Chris reminded me that people don't ask, they just see the last name and assume, and I will have to learn to live with that."
He saw the street experience as the essence of local campaigning and a chance "to personalize issues." He's learned to deal with interest, acceptance and occasionally hostility from longtime Krusickians.
"You just have to know how to persist, to keep going whatever happens and enjoy it," he said. "I've been bitten by dogs twice and hoping for a third."
Some of Krusick's colleagues in the legislature are openly breaking ranks or quietly backing Riemer, disturbed by what they call her "unpredictability." Off the record, they admit to being apprehensive about her erratic votes and curious arguments, even for the occasional votes they agree with.
Her fading reputation among Madison colleagues also clarifies why labor federations went from supporting her 10 years ago to opposing her in 2010 and again this year. "She was always a consistent vote against the current school voucher funding system," one legislator told me, "so even when the explanations seemed unhinged, we were glad for the support."
Things have changed. Riemer now has the support of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, AFT, SEIU - all known for political acumen and activity - and in a major change, the MTEA is preparing to work hard for him as we went to press. Add to that the recent PEOPLE endorsement of the large AFSCME District Council 48 and the state AFL-CIO.
Whoever wins the Democratic primary Aug. 14 is in effect the new representative for the newly configured district for the next two years.