Donnie Fowler to the Rescue

By Elizabeth Leventhal of Portland, Oregon, former field coordinator for the Gore 2000 campaign, now active with the Oregon Bus Project.

Donnie FowlerIn the wake of all the buzz about the race for DNC Chair, one candidate is emerging from beneath the radar screen who may be just the answer to our dreams, hopes, and fears.

That candidate is Donnie Fowler, a 37-year-old presidential campaign strategist and Silicon Valley tech whiz who understands both the mechanics of party politics and the pizzazz of grassroots networking. Mr. Fowler's campaign slogan itself illustrates the hybrid nature of his candidacy: 'Embracing the New Politics and Perfecting the Old'.

Donnie has gone to battle in four Presidential races, led a draft movement on behalf of Wes Clark, and fought for technological advancements in the halls of Sacramento and DC. Now he's taking on the task of reforming the Democratic Party - from the outside in. As young-at-heart-if-not-age progressives trying to change both our party and our state, Blue Oregonians should be first in line behind Fowler's innovative, forward-looking, insurgent candidacy.

For those ready to take on the challenge of finding creative approaches that target a better future vs. mourning an imperfect past, let us start here:


  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Just curious, having never heard of Donnie Fowler - what's he like, what does he believe. Being a "Silicon Valley whiz" doesn't really tell me anything. It only triggers questions, --

    Would we trade East coast elitism for West coast elitism, and is that "progress"?

    What is "new" that he would bring to the party?

    What can he do to turn "red" into "blue?

    Does he have organizational background in large organizations and knowledge of accounting, personnel management, and the thousand other skills needed in that type of job?

    Lots of questions - answers?

    Steve Bucknum

  • Norman Hawker (unverified)


    I worked on the Kerry Campaign in Michigan during the fall, so I can tell you from personal knowledge that Donnie Fowler brings both the skill and the will to fight Republicans successfully.

    Donnie Fowler was the campaign's state director in Michigan, and he significantly improved Kerry's margin of victory over Al Gore's in this state. What impressed me the most, however, was his understanding of Blue Collar/Reagan Democrats, a crucial block in this state.

    Donnie Fowler is from South Carolina originally. He was Al Gore's national field director in 2000.

    There's a whole lot more I could say, but why don't you check out Donnie Fowler's web site:

  • Aaron (unverified)

    Norman and Elizabeth:

    What is real difference in-between Mr. Fowler and Gov. Dean; and Mr. Webb, and Mr. Kirk? Please don't refer me too an article or a website--if you truly know this gentleman then you can voice his differences or get him to post here on BlueOregon.

  • LT (unverified)

    Anyone who knows about Reagan Democrats (a group Clinton won over) knows they are swing voters. Norman says, "Donnie Fowler was the campaign's state director in Michigan, and he significantly improved Kerry's margin of victory over Al Gore's in this state. What impressed me the most, however, was his understanding of Blue Collar/Reagan Democrats, a crucial block in this state."

    My questions are these: 1) Did Fowler improve Kerry's margin in Macomb County over Gore's? Macomb County was identified as the epicenter of Reagan Democrats--it is near Detroit. If so, that would be evidence he did a good job. 2) I still think elected officials should be considered for DNC because they have gotten elected themselves. I would like to see why Fowler would do a better job (specifics, not just "change the future " generalities) than Former Mich. Gov. J. Blanchard.

  • Marc Brazeau (unverified)

    Though I like Wesley Clark, he was not a Democrat and he was a lousy candidate.

    The responsibility of the DNC Chair is too recruit candidates and build the party.

    Recruiting Wes Clark doesn't show a particularly good eye for talent. More troubling it doesn't show an instinct for party building.

    As a newcomer to the party, how could we expect Wes Clark to think strategically about using his campaign and presidency to institutionalize power for the party.

    After eight years of a presidency that suceeded in building power for Bill Clinton and eroding power and party identification for Democrats, I'd hope that people would be thinking harder about this stuff, but every where I turn, they aren't.

  • (Show?)

    I do recall the Clark line from Newsweek that he "would have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned his phone calls". That said, Clark might be the perfect Tabula Rasa candidate ala George W. Bush. If he can clear brush on the ranch, look people straight in the eye, talk tough, mangle the english langage (like regular folks) and walk around in cowboy boots without stumbling, he's most of the way there.

    The candidate doesn't have to have the ability to "think strategically about using his campaign and presidency to institutionalize power for the party." That can often be the job of the campaign manager or other staff. In this situation, the candidate only needs to provide the perception of authenticity, something neither Gore nor Kerry ever managed to convey, even though they were all over strategy, tactics, policy positions, etcetera.

  • (Show?)

    Back to Donnie & to answer Steve, Aaron, & LT's questions:

    1. West Coast Elitism:

    Donnie was VP of a group called Tech Net, which lobbies for technology advancements (in education, the workforce & society) on the state & national level).

    Here are some of their accomplishments:

    It hardly smacks of elitism - more like innovation & social reform. So, I think the elite label is not quite fitting. But for arguments sake, the difference between West Coast & East Coast elitism is like the difference between lunch in an stoggy English pup & grabbing a bite to eat at the local sushi bar...each is a meal, but hardly w/in the same environment or menu selection.

    1. The New Things Donnie Would Bring to the Party

    a. Better Message Coordination between the DNC & State Parties

    b. A Focus on Reviving old Progressive Think Tanks while Implementing New Ones

    c. Establishment of Regional Media Comm Ctr's

    d. Enhancement of Voter Targeting & Increase in Resources for Demographic Research

    e. Inclusion of Local Party Activists & Leaders in the DNC's National Strategic Planning

    f. A 3-prong Approach for Building Party Support (among loyal Dems, new & swing voters, as well as red staters)

    g. Improved Accountability to Donors & other Investors in the Dem Party's future via Measured goals & Quarterly Perf Reviews

    h. Improvement of DNC's Direct Mail program

    i. Improved Panning for Small Donors - both via online (blogs, e-mails, etc) & offline
    methods (direct mail).

    1. Diff between Fowler & Dean (or other candidates)

    The 1st difference is that Donnie understands operations & that's what the DNC Chair primarily does - is operate the Democratic Party. Dean is obviously not an operations guy (nor does he seem interested in being one).

    The 2nd difference is that Donnie knows how to get results (as was showed by the field op's plan for Gore & by his work for Kerry in Michigan).

    The third difference is that Donnie gets the netroots/grassroots & is someone with a future ahead of him (vs just an elected office behind him). I personally feel that his chairmanship would signal a generational shift in power w/in the Democratic party - away from the insiders & been-arounds to the up & comming leaders of tommorrow.

    Organizations like the Bus Project have shown that we not only deserve a seat at the table, but can earn one when given the chance to show our stuff. So, shouldn't we thus rally behind someone who is standing for those principles - of inclusion, reform, & redefinition?

    I think the only potential loss here would be the lost opportunity to support someone new & different & finally change both the Face & the Framework of the DNC.

  • (Show?)

    There's a discussion about Fowler going on over at dailyKos too.

    Some people who worked with him in Michigan are less than complimentary. Others like his energy and general tech-savviness.

    In person, he comes across as high energy and fairly focused. He's getting coaching from his Dad, a former chair of the DNC.

    Fowler and Rosenberg seem to be running for the job harder than the rest, although I've received mailings from Wellington Webb as well.

  • (Show?)

    Steve, et al...

    Did my comment answer your questions re: Donnie?

    I think the fact that he is, as Jenny claims, running the hardest for the job, says a lot about him as a person & a candidate.

    Isn't winning the argument at the end of the day about being persistent, tenacious, & working hard to get people's attention, support, & finally, their vote?

    Isn't that what we need & are looking for in a Party Leader?

  • Kurt Staicoff (unverified)

    You can watch a 30 minute call in session on C-SPAN w/ Fowler. It's very intersting, and it's Fowler responding off the cuff with some pretty wild phone calls. Just go to the C-Span website and search Donnie Fowler. I think he comes off rather well, although he turns his southern accent on and off depending on the caller.

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