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Wisconsin Democrats re-elect Martha Laning as head of state party

(AP) — Wisconsin Democrats re-elected Martha Laning Saturday to be the head of their state party despite a crushing 2016 election that saw President Donald Trump become the first Republican to win the state since 1984.

Laning won her second two-year term at the Democrats' annual convention in Middleton, where she defeated three other candidates: Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy, Madison attorney Eric Finch and Joe Donovan, a retired small business owner from Crivitz.

The State Journal reports that Laning told delegates she has a plan to help Democrats win in future elections, including hiring local organizers.

"We have laid the groundwork, but we need to capitalize on it," Laning said, urging delegates not to give up on her plan.

In addition to losing the presidential race, Democrats lost seats in the Wisconsin Legislature, giving Republicans the largest Senate majority since 1971 and the biggest Assembly margin since 1957. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson also became the first Republican Senate candidate to win in a presidential year in 32 years.

The state's Republican Party taunted Democrats after their vote.

"Wisconsin Democrats are doubling down on their disarray and track record of failure," state party spokesman Alec Zimmerman said in a statement. "Instead of changing direction, they're banking on failed leadership heading into 2018."

Democrats kicked off their annual convention Friday voicing optimism that they can bounce back next year.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, of Illinois, joined with Baldwin and other Wisconsin office holders to rally an announced crowd of more than 1,100 Wisconsin Democrats at a hotel outside of Madison.

Baldwin urged Democrats to stay focused on the fights that really matter to working people and not get distracted.

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