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Great advice. Hopefully the centrist Democrats - the only ones who actually have a shot at winning statewide races - don't totally abandon the state party and take the Jared Polis's and Pat Stryker's with them!

Donald E. L. Johnson

Interesting post.

I'm wondering about the suggestion that the party hire a flack.

1. Does the party have the time or money to hire a good one?
2. Are the Colorado media so weak they'll talk to a spokes person instead of the chair?
3. Does a chair have time to brief and rehearse a spokesperson?
4. Does a state or county chair ever say anything important enough to worry about what they say? Examples, please.
5. If a chair is inarticulate, why is that person in politics, and how did she become chair?
6. How do current campaign finance restrictions make hiring a spokesperson the thing to do, or not?
7. Is it better to have a hard working, behind the scenes chair, or an ambitious out front chair? Isn't that a first decision?


Stop the bold! I can answer some of those questions with my opinions.

2. Media will talk to whomever gives them the info/quote they need for an article.
3. They could make someone who was term limited be spokesperson - since they already know positions and proved themselves able to win.
4. Well, county chairs get into the Denver Post, if you read the "Lock the Door" article. And speaking got Gates fired. So probably yes.
5. One person refutes that - GW Bush. They admit it - so don't bash me for that.

I suggest a DO use the Senator for other races. While ~60% favorable isn't huge, Salazar's middle path approach will start to give him clout with that percentage, which means that he should be able to swing voters like Nighthorse-Campbell could.



Great advice all around. Let me highlight some areas that I think will prove to be particularly vexing for Pat's crew, based on my experience working with them this past year. (Warning: long post)

1. Targeting Races

You make an excellent point here, and it's a point based in reality. Unfortunately, a large part of the support for Pat came from folks who were upset with the state party precisely because the state party did not target every race. Part of the parallel that Pat's partisans draw with Howard Dean is Dean's willingness to campaign in every state, and to fight for every last vote. Unfortunately, they've misconstrued that to think that that means you grant the same importance to *every* race.

You just can't do that. Let me draw upon an example from here.

Let's say in 2006 that Hefley retires and Beauprez runs for Governor, thus opening up his seat. So now you have to prioritize between two open Congressional seats, Udall's seat, where the GOP will try to give him a bloody nose, Salazar the Elder's seat, where the GOP will try to ensure that that Dem pickup was an aberration, Musgrave's seat, to see if we really can knock her off, and possibly Tancredo's seat. That's a total of 6 Congressional races out of 7.

Now, granted, the DCCC will pick up some of the slack here. But you can't depend on them to do all the heavy lifting--remember, they gave up on Dave Thomas' challenge to Beauprez even though the 7th is trending our way. So the lion's share of the work will be done by the party. If we want to have things go our way, we have no choice but to prioritize.

My fear is that the party will be paralyzed by wanting to challenge every race, but unable to prioritize and thinking that if they challenge everywhere, they'll come away winning, they'll expect Udall and Salazar to fend for themselves, and contest the races in the 4th, 5th, 7th and possibly 6th Districts. What will happen then?

If that happens (admittedly, a worst case scenario), I'm afraid Udall wins by a closer than expected margin, Salazar either ekes out another win or loses, and we lose the races in the other districts. So, in one fell swoop, we've gone from a strong shot at holding the majority of our House seats to a strong possibility of going right back to where we were prior to last November.

And that's without including the Governor's race (and other statewide races, for that matter), the battle for control of the Lege, and whatever other matters may come up between now and then. I'm really afraid that, in their eagerness to be impartial and not seem as if they're favoring any one candidate over another, they'll fail to prioritize their races.

By all means, we should contest every race. But a lot of the time, that's going to mean that many candidates will have to make do with what they can come up with, and the occassional check-in call from 777 Santa Fe, and we'll have to settle for running a candidate in order to tie the other folks down. That alone would be a major step forward, and if Pat does that, then I'll celebrate that.

2. Politics Over Policy, And Being Right Over Being Winners.

I want to go back to that quote you used from that Dem politician: ""Elections have nothing to do with issues; it's about numbers and winning. If you win, then you get to talk about and work on as many issues as you want." That really captures the raw essence of elections, and we'd do well to take that statement to heart.

Unfortunately, far too many of Pat's partisans think that issues have *everything* to do with elections. Part of the "framing" craze among us Democrats comes from the belief that if we can just frame the issues the right way, then we'll be able to convince all those guys who voted the wrong way and we'll be able to win every election from now to Kingdom Come.

Um, no. I know many of us hate hearing it (probably because it strikes a bit too close to the truth), but many of the folks who voted the wrong way did so because they felt that their cultural concerns outweighed their pocketbooks. And when it came down to it, some of our issue stands caused (and continue to cause) great cultural concern among people who should, by any rational standard, be casting their votes for us.

Take national security and terrorism, for example. Many of my fellow brothers and sisters in arms will not vote for Democrats because they're absolutely convinced that Democrats are weak on defense. Now, that belief isn't based on the historical record as much as it is based on perceptions that people (ably assisted by the right) have developed. Let me explain.

Historically, that perception comes from the latter days of the Vietnam War, and specifically from some of the folks who were aligned to our party's standardbearers. I speak, of course, of the 1972 elections, where George McGovern, as honorable a man who has run for President, was caricatured as the candidate of "acid, amnesty, and abortion". Far more crucial however, was the difference between the two campaigns--while both candidates offered peace, McGovern was offering peace at any price, while Nixon was offering peace with honor. I can't emphasize the importance of pride enough--Nixon won partly because even though he was offering peace, he was also offering a chance for America to save face, and maintain a belief in American strength and goodness.

That pattern repeated itself again with Carter and Reagan vis-a-vis the USSR, and it's repeating itself again now vis-a-vis the terrorists. I can't stress this enough--we Americans are proud people, and whichever party offers a way for Americans to feel proud and be proud will enjoy the confidence of Americans.

That perception also comes from our unwillingness to discuss national security issues in a confident manner. Time and again, I've seen both national and local leaders discuss national security issues in a way that betrays their desire to get the conversation back to domestic issues. You saw it in 2002, you saw it again in 2004, and you continue to see it today. You see it in our failure to celebrate the fragile, yet real, moves toward democracy that have taken place in the Middle East--moves that, incidentally, should they pan out, will result in Bush receiving the lion's share of the credit, however grossly unfair that may seem. And you see it in our failure to viscerally respond to any question that insinuates we would fail to defend our country. It's as if we continue to repeat Michael Dukakis' answer to Bernie Shaw asking him what he would do if his wife was raped and murdered. It's an unfair question; it deserves an unfair answer.

But I don't see Pat's partisans responding that way. I see them responding with a dry recitation of facts and figures, appeals to the UN, and appeals to reason. Reason doesn't rule the roost here; raw emotion does. In Colorado Springs, where I live, fully 40% of the population has ties to the military in one way, shape or form--and they have relatives and friends. That's a considerable chunk of the population of this state; do we *really* want to be antagonizing them out of the gate?

You can extend this to any one of a number of issues. I picked this one because I'm most familiar with it. But it does seem to me that Pat's partisans would rather be right than be winners, because being right makes them feel better than winning. We need to remember that elections are *not* about the morality and nobility of your stands; they're about winning. Once we win, *then* we can govern judiciously with all the morality and nobility that accrues to our stands on the issues.

Incidentally, while I'm on this subject: we need a way to square away our message on supporting the troops. Saying that we support our troops, but we oppose their mission is a paradoxical statement. How can we say that we support the troops, but we don't support what they're doing? You can't blame voters for doubting the sincerity of our support.

3. Grassroots versus Cash.

This one worries me greatly, because during the State Chair campaign, time and again I heard people damning the big money folks for dictating the party's direction. Grass is great, but unless you have fertilizer, it's just not going to grow.

That's what doomed Mike's campaign, as I've said time and again. Mike had an extremely dedicated grassroots effort (so dedicated, in fact, that my Miles visor still adorns the back of my car). However, he lacked, from the beginning until the end, the money necessary to grow his grassroots enough to allow him to win the Senate seat he coveted.

I fear that we're in for more of the same. The one thing that allays this is the fact that Pat has shown herself able to raise funds. But that doesn't mean that we can afford to ignore folks like Tim Gill and Pat Stryker. They've earned the right to call some of the shots by dint of their cold, hard cash. As much as I'd love to think otherwise, that's the sad reality of politics nowadays.

That's all for now. I apologize for taking up much of your webspace, and if you made it this far, feel free to either respond here, or email me at arkhangel-at-gmail-dot-com.

Les Barstow

Great article (I've already taken issue with the lock thing elsewhere, so I'll just give credit where due...)

I'd like to emphasize that last DO about the sheepherding, and point out that it's why Pat was elected over Chris in the first place. And you know what they say about herding Democrats :-)

Arkhangel, I think you're worrying too much. As pointed out elsewhere, the rest of the party officers are longtime insiders. I don't think they'll let Pat run too far away from the correct focus.

I'd like to emphasize what Arkhangel said in rebuttal to one of the other points; Pat is quite familiar with fundraising, and she's aware of the importance of it.

The key DO is to make sure that it's painfully obvious that she's not abandoning the more conservative and moderate sides of the party to favor the progressives. She ran on an inclusiveness message, and she needs to follow through.

Candidates will win or lose on their strengths; if they speak effectively to the issues voters are concerned about, conservative vs. liberal takes on less importance. John Salazar won on water and farming issues, not on being a states' rights marriage advocate. And Coors lost while emphasizing his conservative values...

Bob Jones

Wow, Are you guys going to give advise to the new Republican chair when he is elected?? First time here and after seeing the slant it will bemy last.

mountain punditry

a couple of BRIEF comments:

DISAGREE: DO mix politics and policy. we do win on issues and this last election cycle (at least at the state level) is a prime example. the buzzwords - education, healthcare & jobs were drilled into the voters heads. these issues resonated extremely well for democrats. continue to talk about these issues and continue to work towards policy gains in these areas in the off-cycles.

AGREE: money matters, money matters, money matters. grassroots organizing means nothing unless you can get your message out there through traditonal means. running a state party costs money and this is a difficult pill to swallow for some of these grassroots organizers. office supplies cost money, state party staff salaries cost money, voter database administration costs money. grassroots organizers tend to have the mindset that you can get a majority of things done for free or next to nothing. no one really wants to work or produce for free. you always end up getting what you pay for and if it's free, it's usually crap.


Being from an "outlying" county I can tell you that we do not expect money from the State party, just advice and support. Support we never got from the state party before.

Help comes in more ways than monetary. We are taking the job of fundraising upon ourselves, NOT relying on the state party.

Here is what I expect from the state party:
1. Ideas for fundraising events
2. Support for precinct chairs in the way of canvasing training, and pointers on getting Dems in the precinct more involved.
3. Help in networking with surrounding counties for mutual cooperation and support.
4. Tips on mobilizing volunteers more efficiently.

If we recieved any 1 of the 4 items above it would be more than we have recieved in the past.

Go Dems!!!

Matt Singer

One other useful piece of advice would be to read this site and other similar ones occasionally. When I spoke with Pat Waak, she indicated little concern for the internet, saying that blogs make up a very small percentage of the party.

She's right, but they are probably representative of more people and are at least relatively effective at shaping public opinion.


Les, I find it interesting that you stress to Waak that she be inclusive. How inclusive is Gilpin County? Does two confirmation votes for the other party's nominees lead to a censure vote for Sen. Salazar? Great job Gilpin! Let's shrink the tent.




A few comments:

I don't understand who is going to offer to run against Udall. Sandy Hume, who ran for CO2 when it was an open seat against Udall, couldn't even win a State Senate seat this cycle. Maybe there is someone from the North suburbs that can run.

John Salazar has Ken to do campaigning and fundraise for him. So he could and should build up a large amount of money starting now.

We should probably be writing all of this on the DemNotes blog if we want people within the party to read our suggestions. Not that this site isn't the best site ever, but they must read the comments on their own blog.

On Iraq, I always say I oppose the Administration that screwed up in the pre and postwar planning, making the US do almost all of the work going on two years in. Every other war we have had a broad base of allies and at a minimum NATO for support before going in. I could go on, but I'll just get offtopic.

Les Barstow

Way to read only 1 part of a post. We support Salazar, but we refuse to condone torture and warmongering. We spent a considerable amount of time last night being happy about his stance on judges, Social Security phase-out, and rural issues.

As stated before in other words - to not speak out on something so heinous as torture, whoever supports it or its proponents, is to fail to support the most basic human dignity. I think it appropriate that those legislators who might listen (we don't kid ourselves for a second that Allard would stoop to supporting human rights...) should be informed when they're acting against the most basic tenets of their constituents.


OT: There is nothing for Chris Gates to challenge. That's why the DNC told him to take a hike. The bottom line here folks is that Chris Gates couldn't rig his own election! He is now trying to find someone to blame it on - other than himself and his consultants.

Word is that some party officers warned him before the election that this proxy thing he was trying to do was out of control, but were told MYOB. That snobbish attitude is what lost him the election.

Waak will do a great job! Let's move on. Go Dems!

Les Barstow

In addition to all the rest, if I read the rules correctly, Gates got the chance to stuff the central committee with his supporters following the county re-org (rules say the SCC should be equally male and female, and that the Chair gets to appoint members to make up the differences after the county re-org results are turned in).

WaakAlly and others - where did you hear about the DNC rebuff? I haven't seen it reported yet. When did it happen?

Time for all us CO Dems to fall in behind the party. I'm psyched about some of the things I'm hearing already...



I hate to say it, but all 4 of the things that you're looking to the state party for can be done by you. I don't doubt that that has been the case in the past, but what has been stopping you from doing them?

Alva Adams

Dear Bob Jones,

READ the post!

"We'll offer the same to Bob Martinez as he ascends to the Republican Party throne shortly."

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