Editor's note: Today, we've got the third and final question that we posed to the four candidates for DPO party chair. Their emailed answers are posted after the jump, in the order they were received. We encourage you to join the conversation, ask follow-up questions, and debate their answers. The election for Democratic state party chair is on Saturday in Salem. Check out Question #1 and Question #2.
Here's Question #3...
All four candidates for DPO Chair have argued for changes in the strategies and tactics that Oregon Democrats use to win elections.
But Oregon Democrats have held the Governor's office since 1986, the Secretary of State's office since 1984, the Attorney General and State Treasurer's offices since 1993. No Republican has been elected to a partisan statewide office in over a decade. Democrats have held the State Senate since 2002 - and previously from 1956 to 1994. In 2006, Oregon House Democrats had a historic pick-up of four seats in a non-presidential election year - and took back the majority. We currently control four of five seats in Congress. We've held the 1st District since 1974, the 3rd District since 1954, the 4th District since 1974, and the 5th District since 1996. Senator Ron Wyden has been easily re-elected twice.
The only strong suits for the Oregon GOP are Senator Gordon Smith and control of the 2nd Congressional District since 1980.
Given our extraordinary historical dominance in partisan elections, why should Oregon Democrats change anything about our electoral strategy? And, if you're planning changes, how will you ensure that we don't move backwards and start losing? Why fix what ain't broke?
After the jump, answers from Dan Carol, Carol Voisin, Mac Prichard, and Meredith Wood Smith...
The electoral “dominance” you postulate in the question papers over the thin margin of successful, real life, policy outcomes we have been able to deliver to Oregonians. Or persuade voters to support on the ballot. Anyone who has had their kids in public schools, seen the demise of the land use planning system, the drop in health care quality and coverage and so on is not jumping for joy. They are just happy to see the bleeding staunched with the electoral wins in 2006.
So it’s really about keeping up the momentum because Republicans are already doing negative push-polling and attacking newly-elected Oregon House and Senate members with well-funded, out-of-state groups operating under deceiving names like Freedom Works.
I am running to make clear to the DPO how it can lead in creating the master plan to take down Gordon Smith, and creatively connect those efforts to the critical tasks of building stronger County and grassroots capacity, winning open statewide races and keeping our gains from 2006 protected.
Simply put, we can’t risk another Groundhog Day 2002 scenario where we wait too long for anyone to decide. The DPO needs to lead.
The strategy that Jim Edmunson and Neel Pender refined and fine tuned for eight years works. Our thanks and gratitude are warmly sent their way.
The goal is to get Democrats elected to office.
The strategy is to develop a grassroots get out the vote that reaches all Democrats. This is ever changing. Building and revising the neighbor to neighbor campaign is needed so that each county can adopt it again or to develop what works for them with the support of the DPO. The chairs of the counties need to think quickly and deeply about GOTV. The infrastructure needs to be repaired and restructured county by county.
Recruiting of candidates needs to begin now. Every elected office in the state from school board to U.S. Senate should have at least two Democrats running for each office. Primary races strengthen our party. Campaign committees have their work cut out for them. All candidates will have the support of the DPO.
A new strategy needs to be developed with haste. A strategy to woo the non aligned voter to the Democratic candidate and party is needed in every county. We do this voter by voter and county by county.
We Democrats have accomplished a great deal, but we can’t rest on our laurels. We only have to look at the money and effort Republicans put into Oregon’s presidential, gubernatorial, and state legislative campaigns to know that these races remain very much in play. And in recent years we’ve seen a decline in Democratic voter registration caused in part by new residents from out of state with conservative views on taxes and social issues.
What should the DPO do going forward? I think the state party should stick to what it does best: organizing at the grass roots to mobilize volunteers to turn out the vote for our candidates at all levels across the state. We need a 36-county strategy that builds Democratic organizations in the five counties -- Grant, Harney, Klamath, Morrow, and Sherman -– where we have no county chairs. And we need to invest in increasing voter turnout and boosting voter registration, especially among the young. We also need to support our county parties and local candidates by always updating and improving our organizational infrastructure, such as voter files, web sites, databases, and communication services.
Meredith Wood Smith:
I don’t pretend to speak for the other candidates, but I don’t recall “arguing for fundamental changes in the strategies and tactics that Oregon Democrats use to win elections.” (Although heaven knows something suggesting that might be hidden in the bowels of Blue Oregon!)
Actually, I believe we need to keep doing, and doing more of, what we’ve been doing!
Since I became Vice Chair we have increasingly emphasized grassroots organizing, direct contact with voters, concentrated and targeted GOTV, and offering carefully crafted, sensible and well-articulated policy proposals put forward by individual candidates relevant to their races.
I believe we should continue in that direction, and if elected Chair will do all I can to see to it that we do.
The one “strategy” I hope all four candidates agree on is our need to be present in every county in Oregon, but I don’t consider that a new or different idea—we have been working in that direction for some time in sync with Dean’s 50 state strategy. I am also stressing transparency, diversity, and emphasizing close working relationships with our elected officials.