Monday, August 15, 2005

How many fronts make a good battle?

Interesting discussions underway about how the Democratic party should reclaim Congress, and/or what is the best way to rebuild its base nationwide. For example, the DCCC would like to focus on the tight races, and pretty much abandon candidate recruitment in areas where the GOP incumbent has high approval; in contrast, the netroots and other liberal trouble-makers would like to see challenges all over the place, where Hackett-style close defeats could provide a base for more successful subsequent campaigns.
"The challenge the bloggers are laying on the table is to not concede and not accept becoming a minority party," said Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a centrist Democratic group that has befriended Internet activists. "Their argument is correct. If we really want to win in 2006 and 2008, we have to expand the playing field."
Certainly, if you let entire states lie fallow, you'll discover there's no bench to turn to when those seats open up (or weaken) later, as several committees have found out the hard way recently. Obviously, however, resources are finite, and you don't want to lose the close ones because you didn't take them seriously enough. Am happy to see that the leadership is at least agreeing to widening their scope a bit, although I can't tell whether they're thinking about long-term strategic ends or just trying to keep the netfolks quiet.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has responded to the pressure from liberal activists by saying he intends next year to fund Democratic challengers for 50 Republican-held seats, about double the number the campaign committee backed in 2004.
Of course, the bigger the fundraising pie, the larger the number of candidates you might throw a critical chunk, so here's hoping we can, um, build the pie higher!

In related musings, a local Philadelphia organizer questions the "clear the decks" approach to annointing a candidate early rather than having a contested primary. He asks whether, instead of draining campaign coffers and building animosity, we couldn't find ways to use a primary to raise the candidates' profiles and increase the party's chances in the general election. I don't know whether the civic events proposed would really help voters make up their minds on primary choices, but they could certainly raise the level of public faith in the parties and maybe in government generally.

Update: kos has more, especially about local groups who are taking matters into their own hands and making sure there will be candidates and support, even where incumbents are strong.

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