Blogga, please! SDEC meeting report

Posted in Election 2008, Money In Politics, Blogging, 2008 Primary, SD 5, Commentary, Had Enough Yet?, Around The State at 10:23 am by dembones

The blog coverage from the January State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) meeting this past weekend is weak. We have only heard from David Van Os and Open Source Dem about their disappointment over the failure of John Courage’s proposal to place language on the March primary ballot statewide, blaming the “First Spear Centurion” for inaction on a resolution that was introduced into the wrong committee. Courage’s proposed referendum is a great idea, and it is a terrible disappointment that the motion was brought to the wrong committee.

The real story from the SDEC, however, was the lackluster fundraising of the state party. TDP missed its projections for fundraising in 2007 by a third. The TDP hoped to raise $2.3M in 2007, but only received $1.5M. Although the actual dollars raised is double what the party saw during the last non-election year (2005), the impact of the disappointing revenues was felt in every department. Several projects the party had proposed and budgeted were slashed or eliminated. Bottom-line expenses totaled $1.6M, a 29 percent reduction from the budgeted $2.2M.

I think the economy is partially to blame for the disappointing fundraising. Democrats are broke. Many of our candidates, even those in winnable races, are feeling the pinch.

There seems to be widespread misunderstanding about the purpose and function of the Texas Democratic Party. The party performs a statutory and political function. The statutory function is the conduct of the primary election every even-numbered year. The political function includes putting on the state convention.

There is, however, a bit more that many would hope the party could accomplish. Even though the momentum is swinging Democrats’ way, none of its candidates have won statewide since 1994. The power of online fundraising, a force that has propelled Democrats to victory in other states and looms as a potential savior for the TDP’s money woes, has yet to be felt in Texas.

Although 2008 promises to be a much better year for the TDP, its 2008 strategy must continue to be that of an underdog. It is clear that corporate interests will continue to fund almost exclusively the extremists of the Republican party. The glimmer of hope is that Republican money is not as effective as it has been in the past. Being able to outspend a Democratic challenger four-to-one no longer assures victory for an incompetent, corrupt candidate.

Voters are ready to get behind a Democrat who will clearly articulate his or her values and promise to bring accountability and transparency to a government that most voters feel has become completely ineffective and unresponsive to the needs of a vast majority of its citizens.

To win with less, we’re going to need to be very organized. We have to know the names of all the Democrats on our street. Make sure your neighbors in your apartment building are registered to vote. Attend local party meetings so you can gain access tools and resources to help you. Although the conventional wisdom prevails that a Democrat is likely to be elected to succeed George W. Bush as President, in order to build a lasting peace and prosperous economy that benefits all Americans, not just a few ultra-rich, we are going to need to organize and get Democrats elected at all levels of government.

The Texas Democratic Party is an organization we need in this effort. Stop bitching that your resolution didn’t get passed, get off your ass and meet your neighbors. Break out your checkbook and send them some money. This victory is not going to be easy. How badly do you want it?

Update: More accounts of from the SDEC are emerging today, and it does appear there is a more to the story about the public campaign financing question and other referenda. While it is not clear from these reports whether every motion was made in the proper committee meeting, with adequate advance notice, the sponsors of these measures had gone to quite a bit of effort to get these questions before Texas Democratic voters. They are understandably disappointed. However, my point that too much attention is being paid to such matters remains valid. The party must raise $2.0M in 2008, and downballot Democratic candidates will be depending on the grassroots to get their message out, given what is expected again to be an uphill battle against Republicans with more money with which to spread their deceptions. The time to get to work is at hand. Set aside these disagreements and get to work!

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