Ed Garvey, a nationally known labor attorney, Wisconsin progressive, and energetic campaigner died this morning. He was 76.
The last time I talked with Garvey was during the massive protest rallies at the Wisconsin State Capital in 2011. He had wanted to see a more robust and pointed message from the offices of the Democratic Party from the very moment when Governor Scott Walker had announced his intentions regarding state union employees. I will never forget him pushing his finger towards my chest as we stood on the ground floor of the rotunda and saying “We have to strike while the iron is hot.”
Throughout his career there was never a time when Garvey did not weigh in with his hopes and ideals about the needs of voters and try to press our attention towards better policy outcomes.
When I was working in Door County and serving as Democratic County Chairperson Garvey waged his campaign for the U.S. Senate. It goes without saying there was a great deal of pride in my efforts in 1986 to ramp up the enthusiasm on the local level for him, and also feel the sting of a loss when the votes were counted that November. In 1998 he sought election as governor but was defeated after a tough battle with Tommy Thompson.
But Garvey did not lose his faith after that election loss. His optimism about the future needs of our political institutions was always strong as he continued to speak out and strongly support those who had a message that often echoed his own. He proved that politics is not only about winning or losing but keeping the spirit of the fight alive even when the odds are against you.
That may be his legacy.