Monday, November 10, 2008

The future

Trevor Southerland is one of the new Democratic posters at Peach Pundit, and I like a good bit of his writings. And while I think he hits on some good themes in this post, I do think he's oversimplifying this a bit.

While I want to see more contested races - and while it would have been great to see more contested races this past cycle given the political circumstances surrounding the popularity of the Georgia General Assembly and the bump with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket - it's just not easy to find individuals willing to sacrifice their time and resources to run for office, particularly in incredibly uphill challenges.

A nice, well-meaning person mentioned to me that I could challenge Bob Smith in two years. While I'm flattered and deeply value that person's advice, why in the world would I do that? Despite my deep ideological differences with Smith, the vast majority of his constituents in Oconee County are quite satisfied with his service (and, to be fair, he's made some sense with regard to needed changes to the Board of Regents). He wins 70-30 every time he runs against opposition, and there's no upside. Why should I (or anyone) invest the time to raise money and knock on doors only to lose by 30 or 40 points?

The problem isn't contending all the races, but instead being forced to draw from a small pool of potential candidates to put up for these runs. There are few locally elected Democrats in predominantly conservative areas, and where there are there are chances for success (see Bubber Epps).

I've argued this before, but I'd much rather see a concerted effort to recruit and develop a deep, qualified bench of candidates by getting Democrats elected to county commissions and city councils across Georgia. This enables them to build the necessary connections to the communities they serve, thus giving them an instant base of voters/donors/supporters that the recent crop of challengers we've been given often lacked.

Rebuilding a party takes a considerable amount of time, and it's not something that's going to be accomplished in one or two election cycles. It's going to take significant investments at the local level to rebuild from the ground up. Again, the demographics and overall trends favor the progressive movement - even in Georgia - but it's going to take some time to get there.


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