If you’re ever lucky enough to score an invitation to the home of 39th District Dems chair Steve Galea and his wife Carol… go. I first visited the geodesic dome house they built on a hillside somewhere in rural Snohomish County (I’ve been there twice, and I’m still not exactly sure where it is) as a guest of my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, who had won a dinner and wine tasting in a silent auction for the Snohomish County Democrats.
Carol is a superb cook and Steve is a skilled vintner, making wonderful wines from some of the best vineyards in Eastern WA, as well as a few homegrown varieties. They are also both incredibly gracious hosts. So when Steve invited me to a barrel tasting this Sunday, I jumped at the chance.
There were, however, ulterior motives, for in addition to tasting Steve’s wine and Carol’s food, it was also presented as an opportunity meet and talk with Snohomish County Democrat chair Mark Hintz, who is also a candidate for state Democratic chair.
Not being very hip to inside party politics, I suggested bringing a couple of other bloggers with me, and Steve graciously extended the invitation to Brian Moran of WashBlog and Lynn Allen of Evergreen Politics. (I might have invited Jon Stahl too, but I was afraid he’d bring his damn bell.) Joining us was Bill Phillips and Greg Rodriguez, two form state chair candidates who are now backing Hintz.
As I’ve stated before, I’m not going to take a position in this contest, because a) my endorsement would be absolutely meaningless, and b) I don’t feel particularly qualified to choose a new state chair. But I did come away from the evening absolutely comfortable with the prospect of Hintz leading the state Dems into the 21st Century.
I haven’t paid close attention to the race, and perhaps other candidates have staked out a similar position, but Hintz seems intent on running as an agent of change, with a goal of making the party less autocratic, and more responsive and supportive of local party organizations. I’m guessing there are a lot of party regulars who would really like that.
Hintz also talked about the need for new infrastructure… not just the obvious technology advances we need to implement within the party, but also the need to develop local think tanks, and support the growing blogosphere… both issues that are near and dear to my heart.
But what I found most appealing was the simple fact that Hintz reached out to me and my fellow bloggers in the first place. There was no attempt at a hard sell, and the conversation meandered across a number of topics. In fact, Brian, Lynn and I spent more time sharing our thoughts with him than the other way around. (Well… at least I did. What can I say… I’m a better talker than I am a listener.)
A lot has changed in the ten years since Paul Berendt took the reigns of the party, and not all the party leaders seem to realize this. New technology has revolutionized the way the party organizes volunteers, raises money, and directly communicates with voters… at least it would revolutionize these things if the party would adopt it. And of course, the blogosphere has started to change some of the rules about how the party and candidates interact with the media.
What I want from the new party chair, whoever it is, a willingness to embrace new ideas and technologies, and the openness to seek input from both rank and file Democrats, and relative outsiders like me. I don’t want somebody who just wants to run the party. I want somebody who wants to change it.
Just to be clear, this is not anything remotely approaching an endorsement. For the record, I have previously communicated with Dwight Pelz and he has said that as chair, he would look forward to meeting with me and other bloggers to discuss new media and other issues.
I’ve never met the other candidates. But I’d be more than happy to meet with any of them… no barrel tasting required.