The LA Times’ Peter Wallsten confirms today that the long-awaited successor to Barack Obama’s campaign organization–generally known as “Barack Obama 2.0”–is being designed as a privately funded arm of the Democratic National Committee, supplemented by a private-non-profit “service organization” that will keep grassroots supporters engaged.
But it appears that the DNC-affiliated organization will break precedent by lobbying Democrats as well as Republicans to support Obama’s legislative agenda, essentially continuing as a personal political machine:
Organizers and even Republicans say the scope of this permanent campaign structure is unprecedented for a president. People familiar with the plan say Obama’s team would use the network in part to pressure lawmakers — particularly wavering Democrats — to help him pass complex legislation on the economy, healthcare and energy.
This arrangement could mean that the Obama network will, as John Heilemann suggested in New York magazine the other day, dominate the DNC (chaired by close Obama associate Tim Kaine with, as executive director, his former campaign staffer Jennifer O’Malley Dillon) and state party organizations instead of simply putting on the party harness and fading away as a personal organization.
Barack Obama 2.0 would be financed with $75 million in campaign funds, an enormous amount for a non-election organization.
Wallsten’s account of the separate “service organization” is a bit sketchy, but it would supposedly enlist grassroots Obama supporters “to help victims of natural disasters, but would do so under the Obama umbrella while continuing to build the overall network’s massive e-mail database.”
As Wallsten notes: “The prospect of a president being able to guide a service or relief agency outside the framework of his government is a unique development.”
Sounds like it would also operate as sort of a ready reserve for the political organization as well, aside from its obvious utility in fundraising.
The whole plan, which is apparently still under development, is a pretty big and–if you will excuse the expression–audacious deal, and an indicator that what I’ve called Obama’s “grassroots bipartisanship” will benefit from a huge organization that will indeed dwarf the resources of the DNC and the state parties:
Strategists in both parties said the ideas being discussed would create an on-the-ground weapon for policy battles far more powerful than the speeches, news conferences and donor-targeting techniques traditionally used by presidents.
“No one’s ever had these kinds of resources,” said Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who led political operations under President Reagan. “This would be the greatest political organization ever put together, if it works.”
It will be most interesting to see if Barack Obama 2.0 is up and running in time to mobilize support for Obama’s stimulus package.