Thinking out loud. Does it hurt us?

Editor's Note: This comment appeared on the "Run, Jefferson Smith, Run!" column yesterday. It's by Dan Carol of Eugene, Oregon. Dan was one of the co-founders of internet strategy firm CTSG, a staffer on Wyden '96, works closely with the Apollo Alliance, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. Dan's comment is good stuff, so we're upgrading it here.

I think that this discussion about mounting a unified, early challenge to Gordon Smith is very, very, very healthy one to have.

As someone who worked as the research director on the Packwood special election that put Gordon Smith on the defensive and Ron Wyden in the Senate, it is super important for Democrats, Independents and Republicans of conscience to coalesce early behind a great candidate and a serious grassroots-driven, winning strategy to mount this challenge.

For those who know me, and those who don’t, I hope I am understood in part to be a long-time evangelist and catalyst for grassroots and netroots power -- and a champion for opening up the process. That said, I will also admit that I am a bit uncomfortable with all of these discussions being played out in public.

Finding the right forum that blends the best of open debate with the inherent value of not having ALL of our internal airing done in public is an important and dynamic challenge to get right – for this important discussion and for many strategic discussions to come. Finding this public-private strategic blend will also give the bad guys a little less long-term fodder to play with, as some of these verbal smackdowns could end up being good material for the GOP to use in ads (as in, his fellow Democrats even said X about Y and Z).

OK, enough caveats. As for the race itself, I will say this: I am a huge fan of Jefferson Smith and Steve Novick and Ben Westlund and think their intellect and spirit is welcome anywhere, anytime. I don’t like any of them being referred to as a tier B insurgent candidate, but certainly think that there are top-flight electeds out there who are mulling and who should get the first call. And I gather they all agree. But the clock on that mulling time must be very short, and I think the community at Blue Oregon deserves great, great credit for pushing this conversation ASAP. It needs to be.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    In his candidacy for the Fort Collins, CO city council, my dad was attacked with a hit piece quoting my brother-in-law's blog note "He's just the sort of liberal we need -- thoughtful, non-ideological... [etc.]"

    Of course, the hit piece said "Even his family admits: 'he's just that sort of liberal.'"

    While the attack was unsuccessful (my dad walked the district so people knew him and was elected), it's a reminder to parse our words carefully when putting things on the 'net for all to find through searching.

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    ...certainly think that there are top-flight electeds out there who are mulling and who should get the first call.

    OK.

    HELLO...we're CALLING you!

    Ring Ring! Pick up please!

    Hmmm...

    I think we need brawling, not mulling...

    All this coy stuff doesnt cut it anymore.

  • BlueNote (unverified)
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    You have clearly stated my theme on this site for the past six months. If the "big boys" (no offense intended to "big girls") are willing to challenge Gordo face-to-face, then let's hear it NOW and let's get going. If not (and so far, I am hearing nothing), then let's invite all the current and former state legislators (party switchers too), state treasurers, former national art endowment supervisors, former Harvard law students, current and former trout and salmon advocates, and everyone else to have a go at it. You will most likely not win, but it will be a hell of a learning experience.

  • Harry (unverified)
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    I agree... we need to flesh out the candidates, regardless of if you (or me) thinks they be tier B or topshelf. Best run them through some sort of sorting machine to sort things out, sort of.

  • JohnH (unverified)
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    My gut churns when I hear that the insiders are all going to agree on a candidate, which the base is then expected to endorse. That's the traditional formula that gets us to the perpetual lesser of two evils scenario in November.

    If Democrats are really committed democrats, let them open their process and find a way to really engage the grassroots and the netroots and identify a candidate that is not Smith-lite, someone who is really committed to public needs, not someone who simply rolls over every time corporations whine for more tax cuts and regulatory exemptions.

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    I would argue that Bill Bradbury was a "top tier" candidate in 2002, at least using the qualifications that I would assume others would make (elected statewide?), but his efforts came up way short. Of course that was a very different election cycle but still...

    We really gotta drop the assumption that we need a big name to beat Gordon. Look at the 2006 US Senate race in Minnesota where County Attorney Amy Klobuchar beat Congressman Mark Kennedy by 20 points for an open seat. Circumstances weren't totally the same but it just shows you don't need to be a congressperson or statewide elected official.

    I think Steve Novick and Jefferson Smith are, and should be considered as, top tier candidates for 2008.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Dan, Good to hear from you. My guess is that one reason Ron won in January but Gordon won in November is because Ron' campaign had, as you say, a great candidate and a serious grassroots-driven, winning strategy to mount this challenge.

    The people who ran the Salem office in January 1996 (sorry I don't recall their names a decade later) were the very model of the sort of people we need on major campaigns.

    One small quibble: The trick to winning elections is to attract the votes of swing voters, the folks who wouldn't read a blog like this and who don't eat, drink, dream about politics. One way to do that is to avoid jargon. Most folks think of US Senators, members of Congress, members of the legislature, etc. generically as elected officials, not "the electeds". That term sounds like a way to differentiate campaign staffers from the folks who win elections and are sworn into office.

    Clear language ("I wish a member of Congress or a statewide elected official would decide to run for US Senate", for example) costs nothing but a little attention, and doesn't sound like jargon.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Dan, Good to hear from you. My guess is that one reason Ron won in January but Gordon won in November is because Ron' campaign had, as you say, a great candidate and a serious grassroots-driven, winning strategy to mount this challenge.

    The people who ran the Salem office in January 1996 (sorry I don't recall their names a decade later) were the very model of the sort of people we need on major campaigns.

    One small quibble: The trick to winning elections is to attract the votes of swing voters, the folks who wouldn't read a blog like this and who don't eat, drink, dream about politics. One way to do that is to avoid jargon. Most folks think of US Senators, members of Congress, members of the legislature, etc. generically as elected officials, not "the electeds". That term sounds like a way to differentiate campaign staffers from the folks who win elections and are sworn into office.

    Clear language ("I wish a member of Congress or a statewide elected official would decide to run for US Senate", for example) costs nothing but a little attention, and doesn't sound like jargon.

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    JohnH wrote... My gut churns when I hear that the insiders are all going to agree on a candidate, which the base is then expected to endorse. That's the traditional formula that gets us to the perpetual lesser of two evils scenario in November.

    Agree on a candidate? What the hell are you talking about?

    We're having a hard enough time coming up with ONE candidate... much less two, three, four or more.

    I'm all for debate. As many folks know, I believe in the power of primary campaigns to build the party, energize the base, and define who we are.

    If you've got a half-dozen US Senate candidates you're keeping in your pocket, I suggest you let 'em out.

    The rest of us are going to keep working on making sure that Gordon Smith doesn't go completely unchallenged.

  • pedro (unverified)
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    andrew simon is absolutely right.

    amy klobuchar was an unknown until she made it through the primary. mark kennedy was the republicans silver horse. he was their start candidate; the future of the MN gop, and originally the national gop's top priority pick-up opportunity.

    i look forward to and expect a healthy primary.

  • Janice Thompson (unverified)
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    As a former Minnesotan with family still in the state who give me periodic political updates, two factoids about Amy Klobuchar. She was a very popular elected official in Hennepin County, in the heart of the Twin Cities, Minnesota's major population base. In addition, my understanding is that her father is Jim Klobuchar who was a very popular newspaper columnist. So the Klobuchar name had a certain name recognition outside of politics.

  • (Show?)

    I respectfully think Dan is wrong. I know I am a better prospective candidate now than I was three weeks ago partly BECAUSE some people have said negative things on BlueOregon. Sure, I love all the "run steve run" emails I've gotten. But the negative stuff is useful too. I'm generally mostly used to people saying nice things about me. But I'd better get used to getting beat up on a bit, because heaven knows I'll get beat up if I'm running against Gordon Smith. I need to develop a thick skin, and fast. So I say - to quote somebody - "bring it on." I think the same would apply to Jeff, if he were thinking about this -- people normally say nice things about both of us, us both being great guys and all (and I mean that), but we gotta learn how to take punches. Oh, also I agree with what Kari said about primaries. (Although a Westlund-Smith-Novick primary would be the dullest fight anyone ever saw, since we all like and respect each other a lot.)

  • Dem Voter (unverified)
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    "The trick to winning elections is to attract the votes of swing voters, the folks who wouldn't read a blog like this and who don't eat, drink, dream about politics."

    Words of wisdom from the invertebrate branch of the Democratic party. I think I heard some idiot pollster say the same thing recently. I should become a Republican, as that may be the only way the Democratic party will have an interest in my vote.

    Democrats in Congress need to make use of the next year wisely. Bless the crimes of the Bush administration by doing nothing, which is happening now, and I won't be able to give Democrats my vote. The Democratic party is trading away Democrats for the know nothings. Of course that makes picking up the swingers that much more important.

  • Cathy Shaw (unverified)
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    <h2>The reason Wyden won in January and Smith won in November was because the January election was vote-by-mail and the November election was poll voting. Period. They're different animals and yield different results.</h2>
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