Wait a minute: Joe Trippi for DNC Chair!

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

JoetrippiWhy didn't I think of this before? Dean's a great guy and all, and he'd be great on the Sunday shows - but the real magician of the Dean campaign was Joe Trippi. He understands that we need a grassroots revolution to remake the party. Here's what he just wrote over at MSNBC, where he's moonlighting:

And why has the Democratic Party taken on the definition of insanity— doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?
Both remain a mystery to me.
What I know is that now is the time to embrace real reform within the Democratic Party, and now is the time for grassroots Democrats to demand that reform.
Hey, let me know what you think. E-mail me at [email protected]

So, let Joe know what you think. And, while you're at it, let the DNC know. And the DPO.

  • (Show?)

    I disagree.

    To the best of my knowledge, Trippi has never been a big part of a winning campaign. From all articles I've read about him and a very brief conversation we had in Iowa I have determined that he is unpolished, unprofessional, and quite frankly not willing to compromise with people.

    The Dean campaign did bring some interesting new dynamics into play (grassroots organization and the use of the internet) but that alone doesn't qualify Trippi to lead the Democrats.

    I think we need someone with innovative ideas AND proven results. Its also important to remember that we don't need to pick someone with previous exposure such as Howard Dean or Donna Brazile. Maybe we should look from some state party leaders throughout the country who have been doing good things.

    Just my two cents...

  • LT (unverified)

    Howard Dean would be a good DNC chair, but not Donna B. No one directly connected to the Gore 2000 campaign should get that job, or for that matter anyone involved in Kerry campaign who did not also work for Clinton--that is if the criteria include having worked for a winner. Whatever else Dean is (and his book is great) he is the Eugene McCarthy of this younger generation--decades from now there may be middle aged people saying their first campaign was Dean 2004. The party needs that sort of inspiration.

  • Aaron (unverified)

    Joe is a good small ops guy. He did not know when to step back(nor anyone in the campaign) and a more seasoned person to take charge once the campaign was too large for him too fully handle. A good leader knows when it is time to ask for help. I would state that the DNC should look at him as the point person for grassroots campaigns working with DFA and the various state groups; and/or point person on PR.

  • (Show?)

    Hmmmm.... Andrew, you're right that Joe has not been involved in any winning presidential campaigns -- but then hardly anyone has been, other than Carville/Begala. As for down-ballot races, we've got two right here in Oregon. Trippi was the consultant on Kitzhaber '94 and Hooley '96. I remember driving him around during a Hooley film shoot - nice guy, but a little obsessive about his jogging.

    In any case, I think Trippi gets it - yes, he's "unpolished, unprofessional, and quite frankly not willing to compromise with people" -- but that's what makes him a great political consultant. Just like James Carville...

    I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of consultants who drive the passion out of their candidates and make campaigns devoid of meaning. (Paging Bob Shrum... Bob Shrum...)

  • (Show?)

    As one of the morning folks on Air America said yesterday, this Thanksgiving call the Democratic National Committee and say "Thanks...for nothing!"

    And to BlueOregon I say, thanks for adding to Oregon.

  • (Show?)

    I say thank you to Kari for both his insight & revelations re: Trippi. He is right - who needs professionalism & polish when you've got the pass key to the future in the palm of your hand?

    As for someone with both panache & proven results, we need look no further than our own backyard:


    I think Jefferson Smith would make one hell of a DNC Chair!! Anyone care to join the draft Jefferson campaign?

    If so, you should send him an e-mail encouraging him to run or start a blog thread on his behalf...

    The Bus delivered the goods this year & Mr. Smith is def not lacking in either professionalism, polish, or ability to work with others.

  • (Show?)

    In support of Kari's position, Trippi would be a good choice. McAuliffe (Along with Bush 41, Richard Perle and John McCain) made millions on Global Crossing when he received inside notification from their CEO. Apparently not technically illegal, but certainly leaves a bad taste in my mouth........

    Trippi meets the primary requirement of a party chair as he has been one of the main demonstrators of the ability to use the internet to raise millions from small donors.

    My dream? National party officials that I don't have to apologize for on moral or ethical grounds. Doesn't seem like too much to ask for.

    As for Brazille and the rest of the Renissance Weekend crowd, I think that they've proven themselves to be one trick ponies. They were able to get Bill Clinton, one of the most charismatic candidates of my generation, elected twice. They were absolutely unable to do anything with the two distant and haughty wonks that they supported in the two subsequent elections. Definition of Insanity indeed!!

  • LT (unverified)

    Yes, I agree: "The Bus delivered the goods this year & Mr. Smith is def not lacking in either professionalism, polish, or ability to work with others."

    The Bus and Mr. Smith seem to me to be the future. I am a great admirer.

  • Christy (unverified)

    Ummm, Jeff is 30. Now, anyone who knows me knows I am a fan and that I am firmly on the Bus. The Bus ---and Jeff --- are the future. But, he could not win the DNC chairmanship at this point. (Plus, he needs to hold office...He is on his way to being a presidential candidate :).)

    Trippi would be...different. And Lord knows we need different. I still like the Dean idea. Anyone but the Clintonites. I love the Clintons. I think Bill will go down as a great president and Hillary will go down as a great senator (assuming she can hold off Giuliani in two years). But, Hillary should not run for president (although VP might be okay). If that is the end goal, I want no part of it.

  • LT (unverified)

    "Trippi would be...different. And Lord knows we need different. I still like the Dean idea."

    The problem with Dean (at least according to some at Change for America) is that those who want him to run for president worry he couldn't be DNC chair and run for president. As we all know, some filmclips are recycled forever. Trippi doesn't have enough of a public face to have a problem like the "Dean Scream". (yes, I know it was unfair the way that was done, but that isn't the point.)

    And much as I admire Dean, there are some mean people out there (J. Goldberg of National Review Online comes to mind)who would find 16 reasons to go after Dean. For instance, I had an email exchange with Goldberg which contained this line about Dean: "But a short answer is that a guy who doesn't leave his church over various theological issues but does leave his church - and church in general -- over a spat about a bike path is a good candidate for being secular. "

    Now why that should matter is beyond me, but...

    It seems the DNC should be talking about message, about how to further use the Internet, whether the primary calendar should be lengthened (frontloaded didn't work very well this time), whether there should be more volunteers vs. paid activists, whether turnout should be more important than voter registration, the role of state parties in relation to DNC, etc.

  • The prof (unverified)

    First Dean now Trippi ... I fail to understand why people here think that fundraising via the Internet is some sort of magical skill only held by Dean or his campaign staff.

    McCain 2000 was the first presidential campaign to rapidly raise significant funds via the Internet. Dean's campaign showed the vast potential using small donations. But the other campaigns rapidly learned.

    Anyone who runs the DNC is going to know how to use the Internet.

  • (Show?)

    In re: to Age being a qualifying factor for chairing a national advocacy organization:

    Adam Warbach ascended to the Presidency of the Sierra Club (membership: 650,000) at the young age of 23.



    He's now one of the co-founders of the Apollo Project (http://www.apolloalliance.org) - a grassroots campaign to acheive energy independence through the development of renewable resources.

    As for the Holding Office qualification, none of the recent DNC Chairs have elected experience. If you think about it, what better way to learn the ropes of public service & org. leadership can there be than by holding the reigns of an organization in the midst of great change?

    As a party & a group of people fighting for our voices to be heard, can we truly afford to wait for the future to arrive or do we seize the day & create it now?

    I argue for the later.

  • (Show?)

    Prof, you write: Anyone who runs the DNC is going to know how to use the Internet.

    But, in fact, the facts say otherwise. The Kerry campaign and the DNC completely failed - in fundamental ways - in their net strategy. Sure, they raised a ton of money, but they failed to utilize the grassroots motivational systems that Trippi pioneered.

    What I fail to understand is why most folks look at the net as some kind of ATM machine - create website, get money. Sure, money is critical ("mother's milk") but highly motivated volunteers who can self-activate and self-mobilize (with vastly less field staff to manage them) is the critical power of the net.

    Let's take this over to my blog at PoliticsAndTechnology.com and discuss more.

  • Marc Brazeau (unverified)

    Joe Trippi is a good operations guy and he had great insight to incorporate a blog and MeetUp.com into the campaign. But the ads that his company produced for Dean were awful. He has a pretty tin ear for message and theme.

    I'm backing Dean because he has the loyalty of the grassroots and he will be a good spokesman for the Party on the Sunday shows etc. He gets the grassroots stuff as well as Trippi.

    But if you want a successful operations guy, then Steve Rosenthol is your man.

  • (Show?)

    Has anyone seen DFA's election numbers for their Dean Dozen endorsements? They BRAG about helping elect 350 out of 700 targets!!

    That's less than a 50% rate of success! I understand they're a new organization, but Dean is hardly new to the political game. If he can't get a better rate of return w/in his own operation, how is he going to lead the Dems to victory at the DNC?

    Plus, he takes credit for legis. gains made in OR & WA that his org. did not play a significant role in acheiving. Yes, they helped & their work is certainly valued & appreciated, but the Oregon & Wash Senates did not by any means TURN due mainly to their efforts. To claim otherwise is not consistent w/the straight-talk appeal that the Dean campaign & movement were built on.

    Ref. Link:


  • (Show?)


    First, 350 out of 700 is exactly 50%, not less than. </math>

    And while I agree that 350 out of 700 targets might be a spurious claim, 'credit' for such a thing isn't tangible, anyway. On what do you base your data that DFA's assistance in any given race was or wasn't significant?

    My experience is that while many are quick to claim significant, even decisive effort on turning a race, including Dean and DFA, lots more people deserve it, on behalf of lots of organizations. It's not as much dishonest, or anti-straight talk, as it is about inclusion, acknowledgement, and encouragement.

    That's how it should work, I think. That's how we should win.

  • (Show?)

    I concur with Dunagan - but also recognize that the whole POINT of the Dean Dozens were to support non-traditional candidates in non-traditional places using non-traditional tactics.

    He could have EASILY padded his win % by including a bunch of easy-win races in Democratic strongholds.

    Finally, Dean's building a movement - not a one-shot deal. Just the fact that they played in 700 races nationwide is an astonishingly fast start.

  • Jon (unverified)

    Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network would be an excellent choice to head the DNC. Rosenberg uniquely offers:

    1. A new vision and message for Democrats, with ability to articulate it.

    2. A track record of campaign success, especially backing winning Democratic candidates in hard-to-win districts in the West and South, including Ken Salazar, Blanche Lincoln, etc.

    3. Leadership in identifying and backing new candidates, including Barack Obama and Harold Ford.

    4. Proven fundraising ability, including early adoption of Internet tools (Meetup, etc.).

    5. Leadership in Democratic outreach to Hispanic voters. NDN's Hispanic Project helped Democrats fight off a huge GOP effort.

    6. Appeal across the gamut of Democratic constituencies from liberal 527's Deaniacs, unions, and DLC.

    No disrespect to Dean or Trippi, but they don't bring the kind of new visionary leadership that Democrats must find in order to get out of the wilderness.

  • (Show?)


    Thanks for the 're-count'!! Please excuse the shabby math - it was kinda late in the evening when I posted that comment.

    Yes, I understand that grassroots politics is a team effort. However, from what I understand, DFA/DFO put most of their resources into the Kerry campaign & w/in that arena, focused on raising turnout in NON-swing areas (ie, areas w/already strong Dem ID).

    Obviously, base turnout was key to Kerrry 'carrying Oregon'. However, it was not key to the Dems winning back the Senate (since that effort was acheived via wins in swing or GOP- leaning districts in Gresham, Ashland, & Coos Bay.

    I'm not so concerned w/Dean or DFA touting their horn (even in cases were such touting may be a bit uncalled for), as I am about Dean's general approach to targeting & strategy work. While I admire his idealism & fair share attitude, there is simply not enough resources to waste on hopeless states, races, etc. Not when there's so many probable ones at stake due to our closely divided electorate.

    The next DNC Chair has a lot of important decisions to make strategy-wise & I fear that Dean's ability to make such calls wisely is tempered by his supporters closed-eyed optimism & his own less-than-stellar political judgment.

    Just so you know, I was a huge Deaniac this past election & greatly value the ideas & energy that Gov. Dean brought to the campaign & to the party, but I have strong reservations re: him being the right person to lead the Party forward over the next 4 years.

    As for his approach, one can accomplish non-traditional goals via non- traditional tools & methods w/in a strategically sound & pragmatic context. I think it takes a blend of the two (trad + non-trad ideas) to get desired results. I think Dean lost sight of the trad. side of the equation - both w/in his own bid for the Presidency & his org's mission & work after the primaries.

    If Dean wants to run for Governor of any state in this country, I'd be first in line to back him. But Dean & the DNC job is just not a match made in heaven. We need to ask ourselves: can we truly afford to take any detail for granted with so much at stake for our party & our country? I'm afraid that we can't.

  • the prof (unverified)


    I disagree. All the turnout figures indicate that the Democratic effort and the Kerry campaign was wildly successful in fundraising and mobilization.

    The Republicans were simply more successful.

    And note the Republicans out-organized the Democrats in the old-fashioned way, through on the ground, traditional organizations such as churches, interest groups (NRA), and Republican clubs.

    I understand the attraction of claiming that is somehow things had been different, if somehow we had taken Dean's message to heart, if somehow we had run farther to the left, the Democrats would have done. But the exit polls, the turnout figures, the trends in partisan identification, all fundamentally dispute these claims. Willful ignorance of these figures dooms us to minority status.

    And ironically, the same folks continue to foster the myth of Dean: HE WAS A CLINTONIAN MODERATE! People think Dean was a liberal because he publicly disputed Bush on two issues: taxes and Iraq (mainly Iraq). But Dean's record as governor places him squarely as a moderate to conservative Democrat. Yet folks see him as the liberal savior of the party?

    Kari, in my opinion, the Internet has yet to prove itself as a medium to replace the grassroots ground war. The Dean campaign, in fact, shows just the opposite -- by relying too much on the Internet and a diffuse, poorly organized set of "meetups", Dean neglected the key elements that still constitute a successful election strategy.

  • LT (unverified)

    A dozen is 12. That is a managable number. I didn't see the "350 out of 700" number on the site. I a saw "Dean Dozen success stories". I saw a chart with about 80 names incl. Tom Potter and a number of columns incl. % of the vote and did they win yes/no. I also read there is a difference between "Dean Dozen" and DFA supported. Looks to me like the latter category numbered 748. As far as whether winning half the races is good or bad, tell me about a group which has won more than half of the races they concentrated on. In 2002 The Oregon Bus Project won about half--haven't looked yet at how many they won this time except they did give us a majority in the St. Senate. It seems to me it is time to look at win/loss rates of unions and other more established groups that endorse.

  • (Show?)


    I'm glad you asked: the number of races the Bus Project won this year (out of the # targeted) was: 5 for 5.

    They targeted 5 State Senate races (3 pick-ups; 2 vulnerable holds) & won all 5, incl:

    • 1 in Gresham (Laurie Moones-Anderson)
    • 1 in Ashland (Alan Bates)
    • 1 in Coos Bay (Joanne Verger)

    <all formerly="" held="" by="" the="" gop="">

    • 1 in Beaverton &
    • 1 outside Eugene in N. Doug Cty

    <both contested="" dem="" seats="">

    Aside from the OR victories, the Bus also won 2 out of 4 victories in WA this year (in their 1st year of operation in that state).

    While 2 out 4 is half, it was almost 3 out of 4 (the 3rd candidate lost by under 1000 votes - in Spokane).

    The 2 victories were in the following districts:

    • LD 49 (S/W Wash - against a 12 yr incumbent) &

    • LD 44 (Seattle exburbs - against the GOP Chair of the Senate's Transp. Cmte - another longtime incumbent).

    Aside from the victories in seat pick-ups/majority turnarounds in both states Senates, progressives picked up:

    • 3 seats in the Dem-controlled WA House &

    • 2 seats in the GOP-held OR House

    The Bus helped in ALL 5 of those contests, via their Overlap Targeting Strategy, incl the first seat East of the Cascades to go Dem (the House seat in Bend won by Judy Stiegler).

    Overall, the Bus has WON 9 out of 10 targeted Senate races in Oregon (over the past 3 yrs).

    I don't want local union win/loss ratios are or that of other groups but I think the Bus Project is a Leading Example of a group with an Outstanding Rate of Success....

    ...one that the DNC & state parties could learn from.

  • Aaron (unverified)


    No win for the Bus Project with Judy in Eastern Oregon.

    State Representative, 54th District Tristan Reisfar - Lib 1312 3.58 % Judy Stiegler - Dem 16256 44.36 % Chuck Burley - Rep 16804 45.86 % Write In 65 0.17 %

    Dont get me wrong, the Bus is a great tool and I have volunteered for them several times this last cycle--but it is Non-Partisan group.

  • LT (unverified)

    Aaron, if you have been to the Bus Project website, you will know about the 5 Es. Which Republicans fit those 5 Es or do they disagree with most/ all of them?

    Ben Westlund had no opposition, Max Williams is now a state agency head. Which Republicans would you suggest that the Bus Project support because they fit Bus Project criteria? I am the granddaughter of a Republican politician. I don't think my Dad or Granddad would be happy with the current Republican party. I voted Republican for state rep. in 2002 and left that ballot line blank this year because I wasn't impressed with either candidate enough to merit my vote. If all the appealing candidates to someone like myself seem to be in one party, does that make someone like myself partisan? Or does it mean citizens have the right to set their own criteria and see which candidates in each party (or 3rd party--I have voted that way more than once)fit those criteria and vote accordingly?

  • (Show?)


    Pardon my error on that race. As you can see from the results, it was awfully close (Stiegler only lost by a little over 500 votes) ...which ain't too shabby for Eastern OR.

    Regardless, the Senate races were the Bus Proj's main priority this year and they came through w/a 5-for-5 winning margin there!!

    As for the 'criteria' for support, as LT notes, it revolves around the 6 E's (Educ, the Envir, 'Ealth Care, Equal Rts, Economic Strength & Fairness, and Election Reform.

    And like the man who is quoted on the Bus itself (Teddy Roosevelt), the Republican Party of today does not have much in common with its populist past. Thus, very few GOP candidates views fall on the progressive side of the debate on these issues.

    Therefore, the Bus is left with the choice of ending up supporting all Dem candidates or selling out their values for the sake non-partisianship...I'm glad for one they choose to do the former.

  • Steven Reed (unverified)

    Help decide who the next DNC Chair will be. For information on how to do that go to:


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