Mac Prichard: Why I'm Running

By Mac Prichard of Portland, Oregon.

Editor's Note: Each of the four candidates for DPO Chair was invited to submit a guest column - and they're appearing in the order received. Yesterday, we heard from Dan Carol. Later this week, we'll hear from Carol Voisin and Meredith Wood Smith.

MacprichardI believe the election for chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon is about who will best support grassroots Democrats, raise the money to mobilize voters, and communicate our message to elect our candidates. As party chair, I can deliver on these goals.

I’ve worked with rural and urban Democrats across Oregon to get things done. My accomplishments include:

In addition to the results I’ve produced in political organizing and fundraising, I’m an experienced public affairs professional and administrator. I’ve served as a speechwriter and deputy legislative director to Governor John Kitzhaber, a City Hall communications aide to Earl Blumenauer and as a communications manager for three Oregon state agencies. I’m now communications director for a national social service project at Portland State University that improves drug and alcohol treatment in juvenile courts in 10 states. And I have masters in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

My top priorities as DPO chair are:

I ask your support on March 10 and welcome your questions and thoughts. Please let me know what you think either here on BlueOregon or via email or phone.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Mac Prichard
Candidate for DPO Chair
(503) 913-9382
[email protected]

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Hey Mac -- Good post.

    I have a question about the faith caucus. What's that all about? Is the goal to reach out to people of faith and encourage them to see the morality and values inherent in traditional Democratic ideas, like universal health care and fighting poverty? Or is the idea to get the Democrats to change their views on hot-button issues - like abortion and gay rights?

    I saw a post highlighting your candidacy over at FaithfulDemocrats.org. A good post, though one of the commenters asked my question above - a bit more bluntly:

    As long as you support the usual Democratic values - which includes supporting a woman's right to choose, opposition to discrimination based on sexual preference, separation of church and state, and so on - you're welcome to be a Democrat. But I see no reason why the Democratic Party has to accomodate right-to-lifers, homophobes, and all the other bigots evangelicals and fundamentalists welcome and encourage to their ranks.
  • pedro (unverified)
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    mac,

    by coincidence i was reading about the dpo race in a recent article by eric sapp at faithful democrats (which, to those who are not familiar, is a christian, democratic online community). eric sapp was also an instructor at the june 2nd religious outreach workshop at democratic state convention that you appear to have helped organize:

    "The Republicans have spent decades cultivating relationships with religious leaders and communities and Democratic candidates and our state’s party must do the same."

    first of all, yes, let's welcome everyone, including all types of religious leaders and communities, into the big tent that is the democratic party.

    second, yes the GOP has spent decades cultivating relationships with certain religious leaders and communities, and we all can see how this turned out for them and the country (ie: not good).

    i'd like to know more about the specifics of what this faith outreach entails. it is often the case that 'faith outreach' is used as a general term, when in fact the programs only focus on specific christian denomonations. so is 'religious communities' code for 'white evangelicals' and 'conservative catholics', or does it include buddhists (of which there may be more of in oregon than there are jewish folk), muslims, quakers, unitarian universalists, wiccans, zoroastrians? or is it more an attempt to make inroads to traditional gop constituencies?

    these questions are absolutley sincere, and i hope are not taken the wrong way. what i really want to know is the details of the type of outreach you have done, what are you planning, what religious leaders and communities have been contacted, what has the reaction been, etc?

    thank you

  • (Show?)

    I'm responding on my own blog because I think this new topic threatens to derail the thread. Excerpt:

    ... I am a member of the Faith Caucus, and a lifelong Quaker. ... I expect the Faith Caucus to focus more on the Way, the Eightfold Path and liberation theology than on requiring compliance with Leviticus. What the Faith Caucus has planned to do ...
  • Bert S. (unverified)
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    Thanks for your post,

    When you say "Promote the Democratic message" I am curious what you mean. What is "the message" as you understand it.

    How will you communicate that message persuasively to rural Oregonians?

  • (Show?)

    Kari and Pedro,

    Thanks for the question about the DPO Faith Caucus. Faith has shaped the values of many Democrats – and as you point out, Kari -- inspired our party’s advocacy of health care, fighting poverty, and other issues. However, in recent years we’ve done a poor job of reaching out to religious Democrats and many Democrats of faith report feeling unwelcome by the party.

    To change this in Oregon, I helped found and then led the DPO Faith Caucus last year. (I also want to acknowledge the terrific support Meredith Wood Smith provided as a DPO officer in helping to create the caucus!). Our group had three goals in Oregon’s 2006 election:

    · Mobilize faith voters to elect Democrats in targeted state legislative races.

    · Build new relationships between our legislative candidates and local religious leaders.

    · Highlight the role faith plays in the values of our candidates and our party members.

    In September, the DNC chose Oregon as one of seven states for a pilot project in faith outreach and these new resources allowed us to hire a fulltime organizer through November and accomplish the following:

    · Approach ministers from 35 churches and pastoral sessions and ended up having 13 Democratic candidates attend one or more of six meetings held with leaders from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities.

    · Contact more than 75 congregations and distribute voter guides throughout the state to more than two dozen Christian, Jewish, Muslim and community groups.

    · Turn out the vote by having 23 caucus members working in phone banks in three cities across the state.

    · Produce ads for two candidates -- Chuck Lee and Rob Brading – that every day reached tens of thousands of listeners on Oregon’s two largest Christian radio stations. Inspired by this example, a third legislative candidate – David Edwards – recorded his own ad for Christian stations in his district.

    I found across our state – reportedly the most “unchurched" in the country – that our candidates and party leaders are eager to learn how to work with religious communities. They just need help and state and county parties are ideally positioned to do this. I also discovered that some of our legislators and county chairs know quite a bit about faith outreach and have been doing it for years.

    Keep those questions coming!

    Mac Prichard Candidate for DPO Chair (503) 913-9382 [email protected]

  • LT (unverified)
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    As one of the people who supported Chuck Lee from the very beginning, I understand that faith is important to many Democrats. But there are also a) people who are religious and attend services regularly but don't want to get into theological debates when at a political event or political debates on the Sabbath. b) active Democrats who don't attend church.

    There are also people who know folks from their church who vote for individuals who impress them and wouldn't want to see a voter guide in their church, people who might get upset if their clergy preached any message which sounded to them to be political.

    And none of that answers questions like how to coordinate legislative and other campaigns or that the same "message" which works in Portland might not work in other parts of the state.

  • (Show?)

    Bert,

    Thanks for the question. Promoting the Democratic message to me means making sure our state party and its views, especially about vulnerable Republican candidates like Senator Gordon Smith, reach the public clearly and regularly. Right now, that’s not happening, largely because we don’t have a state party communications director.

    I would change this by if elected chair by raising the money to hire such a person. With a DPO communications director in place working every day with reporters, we could raise the visibility the party, highlight the successful records of our Democratic officeholders, and shine a regular spotlight on the flip-flops of Gordon Smith and other Republicans.

    How do I communicate a message persuasively to rural Oregonians? I think the answer lies in understanding what matters to people in rural Oregon. That information can come from formal research, such as polls and focus groups, and in many informal ways.

    Whatever the source, as a public affairs professional with more than 25 years of experience, I know how to deliver the Democratic message. I’ve been a speechwriter for Governor John Kitzhaber and a Portland City Hall communications aide to Earl Blumenauer. And as a spokesman for three state agencies, I’ve regularly worked with reporters and editors across rural Oregon.

    Mac Prichard Candidate for DPO Chair (503) 913-9382 [email protected]

  • (Show?)

    LT,

    Thanks for your work on behalf of Chuck Lee. He was a good candidate and I hope he runs again one day.

    Thanks, too, for the comments about the interests of both religious and non-religious Democrats. I do want to respond to your points about voter guides, working with clergy, and coordinating with legislative campaigns across Oregon.

    Last fall the DPO Faith Caucus distributed voter guides purchased from Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon to churches, synagogues, and mosques. Whatever the location – and we contacted more than 75 congregations, including many outside of Portland – we never simply dropped off these guides. Instead, we called congregation leaders well in advance, offered this material as a resource that was available upon request, and only provided the guides when we were invited to do so.

    Much of the work of the Faith Caucus is about building relationships between Democrats and faith communities. One of our biggest accomplishments last fall was to set up six “listening” meetings between 13 Democratic candidates and leaders from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities. The purpose of these events was to create or strengthen ties between Democrats and our state’s religious leaders and give our candidates an opportunity to learn about the needs and interests of Oregonians in these communities.

    All of the 2006 fall election activities of the Faith Caucus focused on targeted legislative districts across the state, not just in Portland, and coordinated with all the relevant campaigns. Indeed, our paid organizer worked closely with other campaign staff and made sure our electoral work and our messages supported and reinforced what others were doing locally.

    Thanks again for the comments!

    Mac Prichard Candidate for DPO Chair (503) 913-9382 [email protected]

  • Eric A. Stillwell (unverified)
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    I’ll start by admitting that I am a devout secularist. And I think the Faith Caucus is a wonderful idea! It’s really nice to see the DPO reaching out to people of Faith who share progressive values.

    When you really think about it, was there a greater bleeding heart liberal than Jesus Christ himself? Christian values are not synonymous with hating homosexuals or denying a woman’s reproductive rights.

    For example: Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO) is a coalition of 16 denominations from throughout the state that are active in interfaith outreach and promoting public policies on issues ranging from poverty and health care, HIV and immigration services, to environmental sustainability.

    The EMO has promoted dialogue between Oregon ranchers, tribal representatives and salmon advocates about water rights and fish preservation. They have sponsored workshops for churches that want to reduce their carbon footprint and help curb the effects of climate change.

    One of the EMO’s projects, Interfaith Power & Light, was part of a national effort of 4,000 congregations last autumn to screen Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" and hold ongoing discussions about climate change and energy policies.

    In Oregon, over 170 faith congregations (including Christian churches, Jewish Synagogues and Muslim Mosques) in 36 cities and towns throughout the state participated in this program. Even I convinced friends and family members to join me for one of the screenings in Eugene at the First United Methodist Church. Afterwards there was a enlightening panel discussion with speakers representing the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. It was a very enriching experience.

    I commend Mac Prichard for his work in helping organize and run the DPO’s Faith Caucus. Keep up the great work, Mac! And let’s keep making DPO's tent bigger and more inclusive.

  • Eric A. Stillwell (unverified)
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    P.S. I wanted to make one more comment about the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. Their 2007 Legislative Priorities include efforts to eliminate the death penalty in Oregon, and support for the Task Force on Equality recommendations to strengthen anti-discrimination laws, including the creation of a statute to allow civil unions for same sex couples.

    These are kind of Faith voters we definitely need in the Democratic Party!

  • LT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    This is a great debate to have, but why does it make someone a better State Chair candidate to be involved with Faithful Democrats or for that matter any other group?

    There are House Republicans pushing a rainy day fund proposal claiming estate tax and capital gains tax cuts create jobs, and that not all corporations should have to give up their corporate kicker--just the biggest corporations. Having called several legislative offices today, it is hardly "the Republican rainy day fund proposal" given how few seem to know about it, and there's the question of how many of those 10,000 plus corporations which would still get their kicker are Oregon corporations--no one seems to know. In some cases, I know the Democrats who ran against these legislators, with precious little help from any organized Democratic group outside their county party.

    It seems to me that the purpose of the Democratic Party is to win elections, including legislative elections where a Democrat has not won recently. Outreach to any one group doesn't always translate into victories in districts like that. How would the new state chair, whoever it is, offer support to candidates in areas where there are many NAV, 3rd Party, and Republican registered voters?

  • (Show?)

    LT,

    Good questions!

    I think my experience co-founding and leading the DPO Faith Caucus makes me an excellent candidate for state chair because it shows what I can accomplish. As caucus chair, I led a team of volunteers who quickly built an effective grassroots program that encouraged ten of thousands of voters – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – to support our legislative candidates across the state. The DNC was so impressed by our work that I was invited to share our work at a national presentation in Washington, DC, so that other states could learn from Oregon’s experience.

    Your point about the Republican rainy day fund proposal underscores I think my argument that the DPO needs a full-time paid communications director and a party chair who know how to work with the press. With such a team in place – and my experience with reporters across Oregon goes back more than 15 years – we could give Democrat activists answers to the questions you raise and demolish the Republicans’ arguments in the media.

    I agree with you that the purpose of the Democratic Party is to win elections. I think the way we elect Democrats in districts traditionally dominated by Republicans is to adopt a 36-county strategy. Howard Dean is right: Democrats need to compete everywhere.

    What would a 36-county plan look like? I think the answer lies in listening to and involving the grassroots. The county chairs, vice-chairs, and other activists that I talk to tell me they want the DPO to provide workshops in organizing and fundraising, supply training manuals and other materials, and give technical assistance with web sites, databases, and communications.

    Whatever final form such a strategy may take, it needs to strengthen all our county parties. Above all, we need to build Democratic organizations in the five counties – Grant, Harney, Klamath, Morrow, and Sherman – where we have no local party chairs or vice chairs. Until we do this, we will keep losing legislative races in these areas.

    Mac Prichard Candidate for DPO Chair (503) 913-9382 [email protected]

  • (Show?)

    Speaking as a lazy Atheist or maybe an Agnostic (not being 100% certain that some deity from Tralfamadore might not show up tomorrow with harps blazing), the fact is that 87% of the population of the US apparently believes in a creator that takes active interest in this particular planet.

    With those kind of numbers, we'd damned well better reach out to the Christian community.

    It's the Cold Equations again.

    <hr/>

    On a different note:

    The chair doesn't design the platform nor does (s)he tell candidates how best to campaign. The job is to find out what the voters want, what they'll stand for, and what they absolutely will not tolerate, in our little pantheon of critical issues. The chair (hopefully in conjunction with the rest of the party brains) then expedites the availability of tools and best practices for the activists and candidates out there on the ground.

  • (Show?)

    I didn't know anything about the Faith Caucus before Mac posted, but it seems obvious to me that the Faith Caucus work potentially represents very useful experience for a state chair.

    It's vitally important to be able to reach out in a credible and authentic way across cultural divides. Religious people (perhaps it would be more precise to say "churched" people), in many cases, have been repeatedly told that the Democratic party stands relentlessly opposed to their values, and Democratic platform issues have been selectively presented to them by Republicans to support that allegation. It's good for churched people to get to know some D's they can relate to, and who can talk to them in their own vocabulary about shared values that turn out to be Democratic values. My own brother is a conservative Christian and I have observed this in countless conversations with him.

    I perceive this to be one of the major cultural divisions between urban and rural Oregon as well, and would expect that Mac's experience will help him enhance the Democratic presence in the redder counties.

  • (Show?)

    I didn't know anything about the Faith Caucus before Mac posted, but it seems obvious to me that the Faith Caucus work potentially represents very useful experience for a state chair.

    It's vitally important to be able to reach out in a credible and authentic way across cultural divides. Religious people (perhaps it would be more precise to say "churched" people), in many cases, have been repeatedly told that the Democratic party stands relentlessly opposed to their values, and Democratic platform issues have been selectively presented to them by Republicans to support that allegation. It's good for churched people to get to know some D's they can relate to, and who can talk to them in their own vocabulary about shared values that turn out to be Democratic values. My own brother is a conservative Christian and I have observed this in countless conversations with him.

    I perceive this to be one of the major cultural divisions between urban and rural Oregon as well, and would expect that Mac's experience will help him enhance the Democratic presence in the redder counties.

  • (Show?)

    What about the Young Democrats?

    Many in the party get excited about recruiting younger party members, but in my year trying to reorganize the Young Democrats of Oregon no one had any realistic input. I'm just not sure how you envision the party becoming a sustainable force without intense investment in our young people.

    How will you recruit <35 year olds?

    How will you retain <35 year olds?

    How much time and attention will you give to the Young Democrats?

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