Five Years After the Recalls: Whatever Happened to…Mike Tate?

(The following is one in a series of posts looking at the players; political, media, or activist, who were prominent  in the 2011-12 Wisconsin Recalls. Monday is the 5th anniversary of the failed effort to recall Governor Scott Walker in the wake of Act 10.)

One of the youngest state party chairmen when he was named to the job in 2009, Mike Tate was the unofficial face of recalls for Wisconsin Democrats. Brash and unabashed in his reproach, Tate guaranteed things such as a “Clean Sweep” of all six 2011 state Senate recalls (They only won two). Further, he guaranteed that Walker would be defeated in the recall.

When that didn’t happen, Tate made another bold promise: that Walker would go to jail.

DPW Chairman Mike Tate delivered a fiery address to delegates in his chairman’s report, telling the audience that they came to the wrong gathering if they expected the party to wallow in this week’s recall election losses.

“We are going to learn the lessons that we can from this election, but we will not despair,” Tate said.

“We are not sorry, because some things are worth fighting for, and some things are worth losing for.”


He also predicted that Gov. Walker would see the inside of a jail cell before he sees another term in the East Wing.

“I will follow Scott Walker to the gates of Hell and back to make sure we are fighting for what is right all the time,” Tate said.

But losing to Walker was something Tate eventually became accustomed to, as he remains the only modern state Democratic Party chairman to lose three gubernatorial elections (2010, the 2012 Recall, 2014), both chambers of the state legislature (2010), the majority of the state’s congressional seats, and a U.S. Senate seat.

After another series of devastating losses in 2014,  progressive activists and columnists throughout Wisconsin blamed Tate for the current state of their party. Tate eventually announced his plan to relinquish his chairmanship in early 2015, ending his six-year tenure as the chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Since then, Tate has kept a low profile, but is still active in politics and public affairs. In August 2015, he was added as a consultant to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s re-election campaign. In January 2016, it was reported he had become a lobbyist for the Milwaukee Bucks to deal with their issues related to state and city regulations.

He also has become a reliable quote for reporters seeking insight into state politics, such as the lack of outreach by Wisconsin Democrats and rural voters and the announcement of his former foe Reince Priebus as White House Chief of Staff for President Donald Trump.

Where is Mike Take five years after the recalls? Out of the public eye, but not gone.