Last week I wrote that Dwight Pelz had the inside track on being the Democrats’ new state party chair, but now that former state senator/supreme court justice/gubernatorial candidate Phil Talmadge has entered the fray, I hear it could be a horse race. Already the landscape has changed, with former King County Democratic chair Greg Rodriguez withdrawing from the competition.
I like Greg. I don’t feel particularly qualified to pick a party chair, but I’m sorry to see his voice lost from the debate. In a letter to supporters Greg said his decision to withdraw was mostly due to family matters, but he also sounded more than a bit disappointed by the tone of the politicking against him. I’d heard the questions about his fundraising prowess, but nothing more personal than that. But then, appearances to the contrary, I’m not much of a party insider, so who knows what’s been said?
Greg’s letter also contains some suggestions for what he’d like to see from the new chair, and I think they’re worth repeating:
First and foremost we must run our Party in a more business like fashion. We need to provide our Districts and counties with up-to-date and efficient communications, lists and training resources. We must find and hire the most professional people and insist on the utmost levels of ethics and accountability. The thoughts and ideas of the Eboard, Chairs, and caucus leaders should be listened to and acted upon much more than they have been. Decisions should be made collaboratively and not done in back rooms and assumed that everyone will go along with them.
We must improve our voter file and technology presence. It is true we have one of the most advanced systems in the country, but that does not mean we should rest on our laurels. We must utilize the people that have the technological know how and who have offered support to this Party (but have been turned away) to make our system better and more user-friendly. Our website must be translated into Spanish and other languages as well as any printed materials we develop.
We have to pay more attention to our Democrats outside the I-5 corridor. This means in rural and urban places on both sides of the mountains. We will never regain a Democratic stronghold if we write these places off. It will not happen over night, but we must find ways to get our message out, recruit and train candidates, and work with our local County and District organizations to strengthen the Democratic base across this state. In addition, we must utilize all of our caucuses, our friends in labor, choice and peace groups, environment and yes even business to craft and deliver messages appropriate to the different demographics and geographies of the State of Washington .
We need to develop a Party leadership mentoring program and learn how to encourage our youth to take on more positions of leadership. We must end the politics of personal and organizational destruction that occurs even within our own Party. This will get us nowhere and in fact has caused people to leave the Party organizations in this State. While so many of our goals in this Party may be different, we have far more that are the same and should work more and more to find that common ground and assist our rising stars and growing organizations in achieving their fullest potential.
Good points all. That said, I also like both Pelz and Talmadge.
As I’ve previously stated, Pelz can be a bit of an asshole… but he’s our asshole; if local elections were decided by a barroom brawl between party chairs, I’d want Pelz slugging it out for the Dems. As it is, there’s something enticing about the thought of Pelz verbally kicking Chris Vance’s fat tuchus all over the evening news. But maybe that’s not the chair’s primary role.
I understand that Talmadge can be a bit of an asshole too (again, in a good way), but mostly, I like him because he’s smart. In fact, last night at Drinking Liberally there was some discussion as to whether Talmadge was too smart to be chair.
I’m not suggesting that Pelz isn’t smart too, it’s just that Talmadge is all about being smart… and he’s not shy about letting people know it. The couple of times I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him I’ve found him insightful, passionate, and incredibly well informed on a wide variety of issues. But again… maybe that’s not the chair’s primary role.
What do I know? Neither Talmadge nor Pelz might be the best choice for party chair… but either one should be fun to watch in the role.