Magazine article Politics Magazine

Seven Questions for Henry Sanders

Magazine article Politics Magazine

Seven Questions for Henry Sanders

Article excerpt

ONE DEMOCRAT HOPING to win in the face of Republican momentum is Henry Sanders. Sanders, a nonprofit and business executive, is running for lieutenant governor of Wisconsin. At 36 years old, the Madison native would be one of the youngest lieutenant governors in the country. He would also be one of the few African-Americans to fill that position nationwide.

Politics sat down with Sanders to talk about Wisconsin politics, campaigning online and how the Democrats lost the messaging war on healthcare.

Politics: You have worked for Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), who is pretty far to the left, and you have also worked for the Chamber of Commerce, which is generally on the other side. How did those positions come about?

Sanders: When I worked for Congress-woman Baldwin my focus was on education, labor issues and environmental issues. When I was at the Chamber of Commerce, they brought me in to create change. At that time it was very conservative. It had a lot of big business; it was all about big business. They wanted more small business to be involved but they didn't have a voice.

In Wisconsin people would say that the Chamber that I came from now is probably one of the most progressive chambers in the state. So, it might seem like a contradiction working for Tammy, but it's really not.

Politics: Jobs seems to be your number one message. Democrats have taken hits recently for focusing so much on healthcare and not enough on the economy. Did the Democrats make a mistake there?

Sanders: I think we didn't do a good enough job of tying healthcare and the economy. To give you an example, when we talk about small business, most small businesses would love to have universal healthcare because it helps their bottom line. Healthcare is one of their biggest costs. So it benefits small businesses. But we didn't articulate it that way, so I think we got off message. We should have tied it to the economy.

Politics: Elected Wisconsin Democrats are, well, pretty old. Are you trying to inject some fresh blood?

Sanders: There has to be if you want to compete long term. Who is going to carry that Democrat mantle? Who is going to talk about Democratic issues? We are blessed that Tom Barrett, who is running for governor, got in. If he didn't, we'd be in trouble. We have no bench.

Politics: How do you think social media, which you have focused quite a bit on, is changing campaigns?

Sanders: We actually have someone who is usually with me who does a documentary [that is posted online]. Social media allows people to see the other sides of a candidate, not just when I am up giving a speech. …

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