Monday, December 09, 2013

Why Democrats Have Problems Winning CountyWide Elections, Part the Infinity

Yes,  I partially stole that title from Charlie Pierce, but it seems to work.

For almost twenty years, there has been a myth that has plagued our Party here; namely, that there are enough African-Americans here to ensure victory in any race.

Are African-Americans the majority in this county?  Certainly.  So, why does it seem like our Democratic candidates only win in Presidential election years in November?  Because our African-American base only shows up then.  Go ahead, look it up, but it's true.

If such a monolithic vote were true, we would have every County office. The truth is that the Republicans have more money (and they ALWAYS will, despite our efforts); even more importantly, they are far better ORGANIZED than we are.  Bryan Carson is doing his damnedest to try and change this with the SCDP, and I appreciate all that they are doing.

Democrats, of course, are famous for NOT marching in lockstep, but the lack of organization hurts us in off-year elections, and not just here in Shelby County, but nationally as well.  We need, if anything, to be MORE organized than the GOP, not less.

So, we can't afford to make mistakes.  For Countywide races, we need people who can raise at least $50,000 because you need to send mailings and have phone-banking operations; door-to-door just does not work Countywide.  If you have lost more than once before, you don't need to run because the electorate has already told you more than once that they would prefer someone else and you are not likely to win Countywide, even if you won a Democratic Primary because of name recognition.

If you are running to unseat an incumbent, you must do TWO things.  First, you must make the case that the incumbent is doing a such poor job that they must be removed.  Second, you then have to convince the electorate that YOU are the person to take the job and turn it around.  Complicating this task is the knowledge that you are asking the electorate to admit that they made a mistake in the prior election, something few people want to do.  That is the major reason it is so hard to dislodge an incumbent, unless they have done such an obviously poor job that the electorate is enraged at that incumbent.

Note: that is why I continue to be amazed that people continue to primary Steve Cohen, as his re-election numbers continue to reflect a growing satisfaction with his representation of the 9th District.  But I digress.

Another problem that Shelby County Democrats have is that there are people who make money off these quadrennial elections even though there has never been ANY indication that they have provided one iota of value to any of our candidates: the ballot creators.  They charge candidates to be on their ballot and pass it out at the polls and claim to be the difference on those rare occasions when one of our candidates wins an election.  These people are leeches upon our party and we need to find a legal way to be rid of them, because they cause more confusion than clarity and hurt our candidates more than they help.

We need candidates who can make a case that the person whose office they seek is causing injury to the taxpayers in Shelby County and can afford to get that case out to the public.  We still have no candidate to oppose Amy Weirich, who has continued the failed policies of Bill Gibbons; frankly, it's almost too late as she has amassed a war chest. To be honest, of all the county offices the Republicans hold, I believe it's more important to hold the AG's office than even that of the Mayor, even though I certainly support a Democratic County mayor.

Yet, we never seem to find a candidate until it is too late and they are inevitably underfunded, and we lose, time after time.  This must stop.

We seem to have good candidates at the County Commission level, but we need solid Countywide candidates with good name recognition (like, say, Deidre Malone) who know how to fight against the GOP. If you have lost Countywide more than once, do the Party a favor and get out unless you have the time AND money AND organization to win the race.

Rant over.

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