Sunday, February 15, 2009

About the SCDP Chair

No, I'm not running; hell, for the second straight re-org, the schmucks on the ExecCom have scheduled the Ward & Precinct Caucuses on the same weekend as the North Texas Irish Festival, so me and the Lovely Lauren will not be in attendance. It's apparently March 7, don't know any more than that right now.

Oh well, as the song says, one monkey don't stop no show, so they will have to do it without me. That means, however, that I can attend the Convention on March 28 as an observer and reporter.

Right now, however, I want to comment. I hear that Jay Bailey has lined up the support of not only his boyhood friend David Upton, but that of County Commissioner Sidney Chism.

OK, you can get up off the floor now, the detente is still fresh and new, and the two once-bitter rivals for SCDP supremacy are working together on behalf of Bailey, who lost two years ago to Keith Norman. This, I suspect, does not bode well for longtime Chism friend Cherry Davis, who was considering the race and serves as 1st Vice Chair.

My sources indicate that either Van Turner or Lee Harris will run, but not both. One presumes they have the support of the MSDIA, but who knows? Add to that the candidacy of County Commissioner JW Gibson (a former Republican, he angered people last year by supporting Kemp Conrad for City Council over Democratic endorsee and longtime IBEW head Paul Shaffer), and we have the makings of a nice little free-for-all.

I'm not taking sides, but I have some things that I would love for the candidates to address.

First, while we know that winning elections are critical, but why should the party support candidates who run under our banner but stray too often from the beliefs of the Party and, more importantly, its constituency?

Second, considering how much the Obama campaign, locally as well as nationally, changed the way campaigns are run, how do we attract and retain VOLUNTEERS? You know, the people who help WITHOUT getting paid for doing it? How do we build that army and reduce the need for money (notice I said REDUCE and NOT eliminate)?

Three, how do we raise money from small donors in such an economically challenged climate? When you have to depend on fatcats for campaign contributions, they like to ensure that we show gratitude when something comes before the legislative body of your choice. We HAVE to get away from that, and how do each of you propose to do that?

Fourth, since one hallmark of officeholders seems to be patronage, how do we reduce or eliminate that? How does the SCDP in the future recruit and attract candidates who believe in public service, transparency in governing, and NOT in hiring their buddies and doing the old nudge-nudge-wink-wink for their contributors? In case you hadn't noticed, we have a REALLY crappy reputation in that regard here in Shelby County. While the Republicans revel in it, we need to avoid it ourselves. The SCDP needs to find people who can avoid such traps.

Last, do you, as candidates for Chair, understand that while winning campaigns is important, that's it's not the ONLY reason Parties exist? It's there to rally the troops, hold our elected officials accountable (to paraphrase Bill Cosby, we put you in there, we can take you OUT of there and put in another one that looks just like you!) and lead the way for liberal causes that we believe in. Oh, and attract people who want to aid in all of the above.

OK, as we have noted earlier, the MSCO is having a Straw Poll for SCDP Chair on Wednesday, February 25 at 5:30 PM at the Hi-Tone on Poplar at Tucker, and it's only $5 to vote after you talk to the candidates. Hell, ask some of the questions above if you like, or ask your own. I am going to do my best to attend and ask these questions, and I hope they have good answers, for the sake of the SCDP.


polar donkey said...

So did the Norman chairmanship not go so well?

I remember a few years ago when marginalization of Dave Upton was of prime concern. From what I can see he's doing pretty well now.

To all the Obama folks, take a look at the old Leftwingcracker archives around caucus/convention time. Don't repeat history.

LeftWingCracker said...

Gee, PD, Norman gives a great speech!

Oh, you're supposed to that and show up for all the meetings, too?


Kerry said...

Thanks Steve. All good questions, and we will definitely be asking the Chair candidates to address them at our straw poll.

autoegocrat said...

David Upton isn't going anywhere. It's going to take a lot more than angsty backtalk to put a ding in him.

I remember the looks I got from people when I told them I supported Jay Bailey last time around. I just didn't want a minister to represent the party because of the potential for personal religious views trumping party positions. It turned out that the ability to wear two hats wasn't among the problems with Norman. Go figure.

The SCDP needs a real newsletter (as in, a publication of sufficient quality that people would pay to have access to it), regular weekly events all around the county, and a collection of other things that would justify the creation of an official party club with membership dues. We need to look at this like a business and provide some added value in return for the money we're trying to raise. There are thousands of Democrats in the Mid-South who have no connection to the party, but who would if we gave them some way to participate.

Every young activist has the same question on their minds: "What can I do?" The biggest failure of the local party is that it doesn't have a good answer to that question unless it's campaign season.

leftwingcarolinablue said...

Have fun in Texas. Quite important to you.

Brad Watkins said...

Just my two cents...

What really concerns me here is that there are still so many candidates, this close to the caucus. This alone shows the scope of Keith Norman's failure as party Chairman....but the cynic in me sees more than that. Looking at the collection of candidates, I personally think that all of the platforms/blueprints/roadmaps/ are currently meaningless. The next Steering Committee will ultimatly shape the agenda and the actions of the next Administration. So of course all that really matters here is who is the most organized. Who currently has the largest share of the potential delegate votes, and who has the potential to curry the favor of nonalighed groups. So when considering these candidates,it is wise to take into account the agendas and history of their supporters as well.

In 2010 and in 2011, alot of people are looking to make moves up the political ladder. The Executive Committee will need to be strong to resist being dragged into the personal agendas of others.
You have County Commissioners who want to be County Mayor. School board members who want to be city coucilmen and County Commissioners. A County Mayor who wants to be City Mayor, City Councilmen who want to be City Mayor, and a Sheriff who can't decide where he fits in.

The thing is, Shelby County has been in a period of expanding politcal opportunity since Tennessee Waltz. That door is closing, because...1.There are "White" Democratic districts, and "Black" districts. 2. There is not enough loot left to go around.
Some of these people will not be able to realize their ambitions in the old ways.
3. The possibility of consolidation.

New factions are about to be born and new alliances are about to be made. Progressives need to be aware of the comming political realignment, in order to exploit it.

Good luck guys, I wish you all the best.

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