Follow-up on the Democratic Party Election

Last weekend the Washington State Democratic Party reelected Paul Berendt as Party Chair. Paul needed 86 votes to win and received 100 with the remainder spread between the three other candidates. It is possible there would have been a different result except that there was a sense on the part of the elected officials that, with the lawsuits pending from the gubernatorial election, this was not a good time to change leaders, and they made their preferences known.

Paul said that he is going to focus on developing the grassroots in 2005, including the addition of a full time organizer in Eastern Washington, grant funding for district projects, enhanced outreach to Latino communities, improved voterfile data and systems for PCO's, and expanded low-donor internet fundraising. This is a good agenda to work from. 

As a follow-up to our series of interviews with the candidates prior to the election, we have asked the folks who didn't win - Greg Rodriguez, Kat Overman and Bill Phillips - what advice they have for Paul, what they might emphasize and what they might add to flesh out that agenda. We figure that the forty percent of the electors who voted for an alternative candidate had some specific things on their collective minds. Here's the abbreviated list of what Greg, Kat and Bill think the Democratic Party needs to do to thrive in this state:

  1. Develop a presence in Eastern Washington
  2. Upgrade the technology
  3. Knock on doors
  4. Establish better relationships with the full range of Party members at all levels
  5. Invest in races at the local level
  6. Reach out to Unions and other progressive Organizations
  7. Operate like a business
  8. Increase the level of customer service
  9. Craft and communicate a message that resonates beyond the red wall

Together these three tell us that if we have the messages honed well and have a smooth operation, especially a smooth communications operation, we can change the political landscape in Washington State. We can engage that large group of people who became more involved during the last election cycle and move past putting Washington securely into the blue column and help change the way the people here think about democracy and think about their role in government.

Read more on each of the above.

  1. Develop a presence in Eastern Washington - Establish a satellite office east of the mountains, develop a strong message that reaches folks outside the urban areas, and raise our visibility all over the state. There is a sense that Democrats in Eastern Washington do not feel like they are getting the help they need to elect Democrats.
  2. Upgrade the technology - Make absolutely sure that our data is accurate and provide PCO's and other on-the-ground canvassers with the technology they need to manipulate the data and get it back into the databases. . and, as anyone who had to work with the data from this last election knows, we need better voter data.
  3. Knock on doors - Working house by house to develop relationships and understand people's issues is critical to changing the political landscape. Kat calls it "cultivating gardens". It also keeps good people involved in the process and it is the only way to get good voter data.
  4. Establish better relationships with the full range of Party members at all levels - Learn, utilize and model the inclusive networking skills that make people want to be part of the Party apparatus. There is a strong sense that the Party needs to reach out to new people who've become active in the last year or we will lose that energy to other organizations or just lose it period.
  5. Invest in races at the local level - Create and support a farm team of Democrats to run for the School Boards, the City Councils, the Mayoral races. This not only provides a stronger Democratic presence at the level of governance that is closest to most people but it builds a farm team of people available to run for higher office.
  6. Reach out to Unions and other progressive Organizations - Mend fences with the Unions and strive for Party unity. Again, unless we do, we will lose a lot of people or at least diminish that solid support.
  7. Operate like a business - As Greg kept saying, treat the LD and County folks like managers. Provide leadership; involve them in the decision-making and the message-crafting. Share best practices. Develop and share great training programs for PCO's and garden tenders and citizen lobbyists. Highlight issues and give direction about what people can do to influence decisions about the issues they care about.
  8. Increase the level of customer service - Anyone who calls the office or volunteers or deals with Democratic officials, friendly or not, needs to be respected and served as well as possible.
  9. Craft and communicate a message that resonates beyond the red wall - Bill talks eloquently about the importance of understanding what will win people over and about the different ways to think about approaching urban and rural voters.


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Allen published on February 11, 2005 10:41 AM.

Progressive Majority - What the Democratic Party would look like if it were new was the previous entry in this blog.

How Do You Catch a Cloud and Pin it Down? is the next entry in this blog.

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