Friday, January 14, 2005

DNC Chairmanship

I've decided to end my self-imposed exile and talk a little about the upcoming DNC election. In February, the 400 + delegate committee will vote on who will be the party's chairman for the next four years.

Up until today, the race lacked notoriety. While a lot of the candidates were household names inside the Beltway, none had name recognition with the general public. With the formal declaration that former Gov. Howard Dean is officially seeking the slot, the race has taken shape and the field should begin to narrow little by little.

Obviously, the chairman will have a big role in the upcoming 2006 midterm elections and the 2008 Presidential. It's very important that the party starts preparing early for these elections. The next two cycles will be a crucial time for Democrats. We risk permanent minority status if we continue to lose Congressional seats. Whomever gets the chair must find a way to compete in as many of the 50 states as possible. It's unacceptable for the Democrats to work with an electoral map of 20 blue states.

The outcome of this February's election will forever alter the path of the party. If a Roemer were to become chair, we can expect the Democrats to significantly alter their positions on abortion and gun rights. I believe Roemer is the wrong choice to lead this party.

I think we have to go with someone who can work towards establishing a coherent Democratic message. I honestly believe that Dean is our best hope of winning back the hearts and minds of Americans. Dean has already proven that he can raise a ton of money in a short period of time. Fundraising won't be a problem. This party needs to once again stand for something firm and tangible that connects to the American public. We learned in 2004 that strong and wrong will beat weak and right every time. We need to convince people that we believe in our core values, and eventually the people will begin to follow.

Briefly, I'll discuss the seven announced candidates for the position (in alphabetical order)

Howard Dean (former governor of Vermont, '04 Presidential candidate): Of course, this race revolves around Dean. I don't think he would have announced his candidacy if he weren't certain of victory. Many within the party might like Dean to be DNC chairman because it precludes a run for the presidency in 2008. Hotline reported today that the Clintons called Wesley Clark and asked him to run for the DNC, but declined because he's running for president again. Provided the party doesn't unite against a Dean run, I consider him the odds on favorite to be the next DNC chairman.

Donnie Fowler (former Clark '04 campaign manager, Kerry/Edwards field director in Michigan): Fowler's the youngest of the declared candidates. He was an integral part of the Draft Clark movement of 2003. I think he's too green to get the position this time.

Martin Frost (former Texas congressman): Frost was defeated this year because of Tom DeLay's redistricting scheme. Frost's best shot is to emerge as the anti-Dean candidate. However, that role seems to be filled by Roemer.

Dennis Leland (former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party): The question has to be asked - can a man with a lisp get elected chairman of the DNC? Seriously, Dennis "Turn OH Red" Leland doesn't have much of a chance.

Tim Roemer (former Indiana congressman): Roemer got traction at the beginning with the endorsements from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Roemer is under fire for his stance on abortion, which differs from the party's stated pro-choice platform. If members within the party decide that Dean cannot get the position, I expect Roemer or Rosenberg will have a good short.

Simon Rosenberg (New Democratic Network co-founder): Besides Dean, Rosenberg brings the most intrigue to the race. Despite his pro-war and centrist stance on many issues, Rosenberg was an early supporter of Dean's presidential campaign. Rosenberg, like Dean and Trippi, is a strong advocate of the type of Internet fundraising that helped catapult Dean to frontrunner status. Today, Rosenberg was endorsed by John Kerry's stepson Chris Heinz. Rosenberg may be an acceptable compromise candidate to those who hesitate to be associated with Dean but aren't comfortable with Roemer's pro-life stance. Watch out for this guy.

Wellington Webb (former mayor of Denver, CO): I doubt he has much of a shot. I'm sure some people inside the party would want a minority chairman, but it's unlikely Webb will get the job.

Sorry if this post ran a little bit long. It's the last I plan to post on this topic until the actual election. I figure this covers the basics of this interparty debate.


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