Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Phone call with Howard Dean

I got invited to participate in a conference call hosted by BlogPAC with Howard Dean today; the call was on the record, and was focused on his run for DNC chair. Markos, Jerome, Aldon, Zephyr, and Anna were a few of the attendees, I’m sure they’ll have reports up shortly as well.

Update: Anna’s live blogging of the call is here, Bob Brigham’s notes from the call are here.

Some quick comments:

  • Governor Dean: “We need to build a farm team. We can’t just run for President, we need to run at all levels, in every race.”

  • He cited a Florida ballot initiative ($6+ wages, didn’t catch details) as a good example of what the Democratic party can do nationwide. (“Why should Republicans be the only ones who effectively use ballot initiatives?”)

  • (Note: If you support Howard Dean’s candidacy for DNC chair, consider writing to DNC delegates in your state, but try and avoid writing to anyone outside your state.)

  • “Democrats know we have to change. The question is whether we’re willing to change now?” Governor Dean highlighted a need to reform electoral processes, health care, foreign policy, fiscal policy and a host of other areas.

  • Zephyr and I asked about the DNC’s ability to improve state operations; I’ve indicated in the past that we seem to be missing an opportunity to build a robust operation here in Illinois. Governor Dean sees his job as getting candidates all over the country elected; and that job is possible only if the state parties are as strong as possible. He would like to push some of the DNC operations out to the state level, and would like to incubate stronger, grassroots state parties. Where the state parties don’t warm to that, Democracy for America can operate as a grassroots operation in support of progressive candidates. Eventually, state parties will have to embrace the energy and progress made by those groups (assuming they’re successful).

  • Governor Dean pledged to have the senior management of the DNC reflect “all parts” of the Democratic party, noting that one area where his campaign for President was weak was in the area of diversity.

He was candid, had good things to say about some of the other candidates for DNC chair, and sounded relaxed and confident.


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