The Madville Times comment section has been a hotbed this week of post-election analysis and proposals for Democratic recovery, as well as a fair dose of what I hope is cathartic teeth-gnashing. Amidst all that significant sound and fury, an eager reader offers what strikes me as a vital component of a Democratic rebuild—a push to recruit and support viable local candidates:
...Everyone knows door to door is the most effective campaigning. Who goes door to door? Local candidates. How do you find your best candidates for higher office? By having a large pool of locally elected Democrats to choose from. What are the cheapest races to win? Local races. Imagine if we'd taken 1/4 of the money wasted on EB-5 and put it towards our SD Legislative Races a year ago to find the best candidates and convince them to run instead of scrambling for "place holders" and hoping they'd figure out how to raise money, find volunteers, build webpages, run operations, develop strategic messaging, find campaign managers, consultants, direct mailer, fundraisers, donors and still have time to make a living while walking door to door....
I have been proposing what I call THE 2020 PLAN: A Clear Vision for the Future of the South Dakota Democratic Party. I want to go through The Decision Making Process with a group of dedicated leaders from across the state and come up with a long-term plan that focuses entirely at the local level including:
- School Boards
- City and Town Councils
- County Commissions and offices
- The South Dakota State Legislature
...It will require multiple PACs that are mostly self-sustaining and are not designed to put money into the pockets of expensive consultants, but are there to ensure VETTED Democrats are well mentored, and given the tools for success... [Bajun Mavalwalla, comment, Madville Times, 2014.11.09].
(Money wasted on EB-5? We'll wrestle about that later.)
Consider this local-election plan in the context of three main action points I laid out Wednesday morning:
- Money: A deeply involved friend says South Dakota is short on rich liberals willing to spend money on elections. I maintain that we can find enough deep-pocketed Democrats to float our boats, if just offer them products worth their investment. An organized campaign for key, winnable local races is one such product.
- Top-tier candidates: Two skilled, sizzling candidates for U.S. Senate and U.S. House can boost any local candidate with stump appearances, donor connections, and Democrat brand-building. Well-trained and -supported local candidates can return the favor.
- Initiative synergy: For the umpteenth time, Democratic policies win at the ballot box. If the South Dakota Democratic Party or any other outfit can keep putting progressive initiatives up for a vote, local candidates can jump on those initiative coattails and amplify the message that Democratic policies fit with South Dakota values.
Now I say "plan" a bit too eagerly: the proposal here is not so much a plan as a few broad strokes waiting for smart people to sit down and work out a plan.
So, smart people (yes, you, reading this blog!), what do you think? Multiple PACs focused strictly on school, city, county, and state legislative races, to help Democrats gain governing experience and public visibility to launch them into higher office—can we do it? Should we do it? Who should do it? And how?