[Editor's note: This comment by Jason Leon is buried over here, but it's a critical one - so we're bumping it up.]
By Jason Leon. Jason is the Deputy Political Director for the DNC - directly responsible for the 50 State Strategy. Jason is a life-long Oregonian and long-time activist with the DPO.
I've seen a few comments here and there where people have questioned whether or not Neel Pender "is really on board with Governor Dean's 50 State Strategy."
Working for Governor Dean as his Deputy Political Director directly responsible for overseeing the 50 State Strategy, I can shed some light on this. Without hesitation, Neel is on board. I don't think many in Oregon understand how crucial Neel's leadership has been in building our national strategy.
Neel was helping us even before the DNC headquarters was fully staffed after Governor Dean's election as chair. Neel was one of our team who conducted site visits into other states, meeting with state party staff, allied organization and candidates who won and those that lost (who might have had something to say about the support they did or did not get from their state party.) He then worked with us in to come up with staffing recommendations that we took to Governor Dean for approval.
In his role as the head of the Executive Directors, he has been a driving force in our planning and implementation with state parties. We have hosted several working retreats with all of the state parties to work on phase II of the 50 State Strategy. Guess who leads those work sessions? Neel.
Funding staff in all 50 states to build infrastructure and run voter contact programs year round is the right thing to do for the health of the party and has changed the outcome of races from the top of the the ticket down all over the country. This is something we are committed to.
The DNC staff in Oregon - Justin, Jesse, Autumn and Cyreena - are easily among the best in the country and this is not only a testament to their skills and dedication but also of Neel's day-to-day guidance.
Often before making crucial decisions, politcal and programatic we call Neel for his perspective. I know that many things in states can be done better and that coordination and communication with county parties, PCP's and the grassroots can improve, but from where I stand the DPO is one the best state parties in the country.
If anyone has further questions about this or anything else, send me an email, LeonJ -at- DNC.org.
P.S. Good luck to all of the great candidates running for chair!