My reflections on the State Chair race

Reflections on the State Chair Race

After the November elections, many people have been reflecting on the direction of the Democratic Party, both nationally and in Connecticut. Nationally, the November 3rd theses set the tone. Another friend wrote about the issues that the Democrats face here.

Locally, Democrats in Connecticut did okay. It was great to see the victories of Ed Meyer, Deborah Heinrich and Gayle Slossberg. However, there are still more Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives than there are Democrats.

Nationally, the Democratic National Party is looking to elect a new chair. Having worked on Howard Dean’s campaign, I believe that Gov. Dean is exactly the tonic we need nationally. He has done a great job of welcoming new people into the party. He has done a great job in making use of new technology. He has done a great job of raising funds from sources that hadn’t been tapped before. He has strongly advocated a 50 state strategy.

In Connecticut, we are now looking to elect a new State Chair. I am hoping that whomever we elect as State Chair will support Gov. Dean for National Chair. I also hope that the new State Chair will do some of the same things that I am hoping Gov. Dean will do nationally.

Welcoming new people into the party. I was pleased to see Jim Maloney talk about expanding the party’s grassroots network, and his previous experiences building the grassroots. I hope that we hear some similar comments from Nancy. This fits nicely with the comments about helping people feel like members of the Democratic Party and fostering loyalty.

This is an issue that I take particularly personally. When Kim decided to run for office, there were some former DTC chairs from neighboring towns that said Kim should not be running because she hadn’t paid her dues yet. Such an attitude discourages people from getting involved. In response to my recent blog entries, I’ve received the following message:

You are quite full of yourself I see. You seem to think that because you came on the scene this past year you are suddenly the person to lead the Democratic Party in Connecticut. It would serve you well to learn a little humility. Many folks have been working very hard for years and years to grow the party, win races, groom candidates and put up with self-important folks like you. Perhaps in a few years or even in 30 years you will understand just how presumptuous you are.

You will make more friends and gather more followers if you could listen and learn, pitch in and help and not always think you are the biggest thing to come along since the Messiah.

Believe it or not, there are many very successful DTC's in CT because they are always looking for ways to improve and learn from each other. Take two steps back and take my advice... back off and don't be so obnoxious. It is not gaining you any friends in the Democratic Party.

It is this mentality that I believe is one of the largest reasons why Democrats are being less successful than they should be, and I hope that whomever gets elected DTC Chair will work hard to bring in more grassroots people and discourage this sort of thinking.

In terms of using technology, again, I like what Jim has said and I look forward to hearing Nancy’s ideas. Jim is right in talking about the new voter database system. I worked with it to help various people in races in the 4th CD. It is a wonderful tool, and the biggest problem is that not enough people knew how to take advantage of it. Another big problem, in my mind, was that it didn’t have any email addresses to speak of. We need to become much better at using email.

It is worth noting that of the 72 members of the State Central Committee, only 46 have email addresses listed, and of those 8 are incorrect. We need to make it easier for people to become more involved and for more and more people these days, email is an important part of this.

This relates to the next point; fundraising. Every email that I get from Democracy for America has a button I can click on to donate money to their effort. On the front page of the DFA website, there is a working link to online fundraising. The State website has a link for online fundraising, but currently it says ‘Coming Soon’. I am please to see that we are headed that direction and I hope that whoever the new State Chair is, we will see more effective email campaigns and online fundraising.

As a final comment, when my wife decided to run for State Rep in the 149th Assembly District, there were Democratic Leaders that discouraged her from running. A Democrat hasn’t won the seat in nearly 100 years. While I recognize the importance of targeting key races, I believe that just as nationally, we need to adopt a 50 state strategy, here in Connecticut, we should adopt a 151 Assembly District strategy. By encouraging new people to be involved and to run in races that traditionally aren’t challenged, we will have more victories like Ed Meyer, Deborah Heinrich and Gayle Slossberg and we will get more people out helping not only in those races but across the ticket.

In conclusion, I hope that these thoughts here will encourage everyone to think more carefully about who the next State Chair should be and how they can and should be involved in the process. Please, get in touch with the State Central Committee Members from your State Senate district.

If you don’t know what State Senate district you are in, go to Project Vote Smart and enter your nine digit zip code. It will tell you who your elected officials are, including the district of your State Senator. If you don’t know your nine digit zip code, you can find it here.

Once you know your State Senate district, go to the State Democratic Party list of State Central members. One of the columns is SENATEDIST. Find the two State Central committee members from your district.

Use this as an opportunity to get into a good discussion with your State Central committee members about the future of the party and how you can help. Talk about your thoughts about the state chair, and listen to the thoughts of the State Central committee member. Again, if there are interesting observations, add them as comments here.

No matter who gets elected state chair, the party in Connecticut will be stronger if we all get into these discussions.