Somewhere I read the invite wrong- I thought the Montgomery County Democratic Party was actually going to admit that their way of working wasn’t, and it was time for a real change.
I went to the meeting last Thursday night in the stunning new quarters (the old building was a shithole) and saw a huge crowd, including many fresh faces. The time to do a mea culpa was ripe- after Montgomery County voted for Trump, and Gary Leitzell came withing spitting distance of dethroning Debbie Lieberman on the county commission, despite spending almost no money, creating no organization, and having zero support from the local Republican party which may be only slightly more incompetent than the local dems.
The fact that the opposing party chair, Sheriff Phil Plummer was unopposed, despite news story after news story of incompetence, criminal behavior and racist tendencies in his department should be the first clue that the Dems are impotent.
But, we got a short speech from Party Chairman Mark Owens, a short speech from Mayor Nan Whaley- who still think that electing a woman president is more important than electing democrats, and the introduction of Sarah Greathouse as the new executive director. Willis Blackshear stepped up to speak for Fred Strahorn, as if only a black elected man can stand in for another black elected man ( of which there are only a handful in this county), and then off to socialize.
Greathouse and her husband have been political campaign consultants in the area for at least the last ten years. They’re part of the party inner circle. It will be interesting to see if she is able to bring some sophistication to the mechanics of the organization- starting with a website that isn’t a joke.
Nothing was said about a plan to regain seats, although they did have a monster list of all the seats that will be available in 2017 for people to volunteer to run for.
That list should be available, along with every open seat, requirements for running, job responsibility, etc on the local board of elections site- but that would require competency there too- which isn’t possible since the people running the BOE are appointed by the incompetent parties, neither of which actually has wanted people who aren’t on the friends and family plan to run.
What the party needed to do?
Stop all endorsing of candidates in primaries and pre-selection process. The object is to elect dems, not to narrow the field before an election. A party with a strong and active base, should be able to inform their members of who their choices are- and by members, I mean all Dems in the County- not just the card carrying cabal that has been running things for time eternal.
Bring back the candidates school, but take a lot of the trouble of running a campaign out of the hands of novices. It’s hard enough for people to decide to step up to run, while having jobs, families, and other responsibilities- but also having to learn how to do a website, manage the voter walking lists, craft campaign materials, order signs, distribute said signs and materials, go to candidates nights, knock on doors and of course raise money.
This is the parties job. It would be easier to build one network of websites for all Dem candidates, including donation tools, manage all the door-to-door data and targeting for candidates (who generally have no idea how data-driven modern campaigns are- or would have any way of managing it)- building one master list of Dem voters and letting all the candidates update and use it. Never again should a presidential campaign come to town- building the data from scratch as well as finding the people to do the work, that should be in place. That’s the difference between a political organization- and a “Party” that’s more like a social club for those who know the handshake.
And most importantly, someone needs to build a data wall- of all the available offices- and start planning who will run for every seat, in the not only the next election, but also the one after that and the one after that. I like Rob Klepinger, but, running him against Mike Turner twice was a joke, as have been every other challenger for the last 14 years.
The real key will be to take over the statehouse despite gerrymandered districts for the 2020 session- when redistricting is up next- or, figure out a legal strategy to force districts that make both geographic and rational sense. While Turner’s district is actually now manageable in one media market, a look at the seat vacated by John Boehner and now owned by Warren Davidson- that stretches from Cincinnati up to Mercer County- is not.
An inclusive organization, that puts democratic principals ahead of personal relationships is the only way we’ll see change.
Willis Blackshear and I will have a sit down after the turn of the year to discuss these issues. I already know we don’t agree on the endorsement in primaries, but, we’ll see who is more persuasive.
Telling people “it’s not your time” or asking them “if we don’t endorse you, will you drop out” are the two least democratic sayings of the local party.
And if you need proof of why parties aren’t the best people to pick candidates, twice the local party and the state and national party chose a woman to run for president, only to be beat by a novice black man with an Arabic middle name the first time, and by a reality show host the second.
Unfortunately, for this current crew- their next best choice for running a governor is probably a reality show host who was arrested for picking up a prostitute- Jerry Springer. Need I say more?