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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Assessing Dean’s Long-Term Strategy

Matt Bai has a lengthy portrait of DNC Chair Howard Dean in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. Bai sheds favorable light on Dean’s leadership as a champion of long-term (50 state) strategy and greater participation of Democratic “outsiders,” who have been overshadowed by “insider” consutlants. But Bai also gives fair vent to Dean’s critics, who believe his strategy will hurt Democratic chances on November 7.
And speaking of long-term strategy, WaPo’s Zachary A. Goldfarb has a short, but encouraging update on an important topic that doesn’t get enough attention from political journalists (or the DNC web pages) — the battle for control of the state legislatures, where congressional districts are defined and future candidates for congress are prepared for leadership. Goldfarb’s article, “Democrats Hope to Swing State Legislatures Their Way,” says Dems have a solid shot at winning majorities of state legislatures in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa (both houses), Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon and Tennessee.

One comment on “Assessing Dean’s Long-Term Strategy

  1. Petey on

    As usual, Bai asks all the right questions, and comes up with all the wrong answers.
    I’m totally in favor of the basic concept behind the 50 state program, but I have zero faith in Dean’s ability to manage it any better than he managed his Presidential bid.
    As Bai writes:

    But you can accept Dean’s premise and still wonder whether his 50-state strategy is really the best way to go about building the party. Even some Democrats who support Dean’s larger vision have doubts about whether he has built enough accountability into his model for financing state parties. Republicans, as I saw firsthand in Ohio during the 2004 campaign, demand certain metrics of their local organizers. Field workers are expected to sign up so many new voters, or knock on so many doors, by a given date, and people who don’t meet their quotas and deadlines can find themselves replaced — even if they’re volunteers. Republican staffs in the states are required to take part in an unrelenting succession of conference calls with Washington. By contrast, Jonathan Teeters, the 25-year-old activist I met in Anchorage, told me that he wished he spoke more often with his superiors at the D.N.C.

    And, of course, Dean’s unwillingness to do the other parts of his job at the DNC of providing support to Democratic office-seekers is absolutely appalling. I’d guess we’ll pick up 5 to 10 fewer House seats than we should in ’06 due to Dean being AWOL on this fall’s campaign.
    Even if the 50 state program were run competently, the DNC Chair still has other responsibilities.
    And finally, there’s a decent piece on Rahm that folks ought to read to balance out the Bai piece.


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