Change the Democratic Party From Within

By Steve Davis of Portland, Oregon. Steve wants you to help change the Democratic Party from within -- by becoming a precinct committee person, the entry-level role in the party.

Next Tuesday, March 7, 2006, is the filing deadline for candidates to appear on the May 16, 2006 primary election ballot. I want to encourage fellow registered Democrats to file for the office of Precinct Committee Person (PCP).

PCPs are the basic leadership posts you can hold in the Democratic Party. By becoming a PCP, you are the face of the Democratic Party to your neighbors…and vice versa. PCPs also are eligible to participate in elections for local party leadership and the local endorsement process. Some PCPs also serve as delegates to their Congressional District Convention, the State Convention and/or the Democratic National Convention. PCPs are also eligible to participate in shaping the Party’s platform.

Perhaps the most important power of PCPs is to nominate individuals to fill a vacancy in the state legislature. For example, if you are represented by a Democrat in the state legislature and, for some reason, he or she left office today, the legislative district’s PCPs would convene to nominate a list of potential replacements. The commissioners of the county in which the district is located would then convene to choose the replacement from the list of nominees put forward by the PCPs. State Representatives Jackie Dingfelder and Sara Gelser are just two of the most recent individuals to become officeholders through this process.

On the other hand, you may be asked to do things to help strengthen the party in your precinct such as registering voters. You also may be asked to canvass your precinct for Democratic candidates as part of a get-out-the-vote effort.

At one point or another, most everyone I have ever met who is active in the Democratic party has said to me about the party, “Can you believe they did that? What were they thinking?” or “Why aren’t they doing that?” Well, if you want to be part of the decision making process for the Democratic Party, this is how you get started.

The requirements are simple: You are a living, breathing person of voting age. You are a registered Democrat, and you have been a registered Democrat for 180 days prior to filing a declaration of your candidacy. You need to complete this form (pdf).

After completing it, you file it with the elections division of your county government by tomorrow, March 7.

If, like me, you live in Multnomah county, the county Democratic Party has made it easy to file to become a PCP. You can find more information about becoming a PCP, and the form for filing here (pdf).

If you file for Multnomah County PCP, you must deliver the completed form to the Elections Division at following address: 1040 SE Morrison Street, Portland, OR 97214. Please bear in mind that they need to receive it by March 7, 2006, however.

If you want information about the number of PCPs in your precinct, you can call the Elections Division at (503) 988-3720. If your precinct happens to already have a full complement of PCPs (even though it is my understanding that less than half of the PCP slots in Multnomah county are filled at this time), you have two options: You can file and campaign for the position in your precinct, or you can file to run in a precinct adjacent to yours.

Please bear in mind that anyone can go through the process for being appointed a PCP by his/her local county party at any time. If you want to file for the position, however, the deadline for doing so is tomorrow. Tuesday, March 7.

  • (Show?)

    Hear! Hear! Steve,

    less than 48 hours to giterdun. I really discount whining about Dem party leadership from the Pups on the Porch.

    If you want credibility, join the fight.


    pcp 372 Clackamas County

  • LT (unverified)

    I have been a precinct person, a national convention delegate, a member of the state and district central committees. I was very impressed recently when I went to the meeting of the Marion County Democrats to hear Jim Hill speak and counted about 60 people in the room.

    It is great when new people get involved in party politics from the local level on up. As I understand it, Jenny Greenleaf became the new DNC member because she actually visited rural counties and asked for that support. It is always great when activists from all over the state are treated like the important component of the Democratic Party they are.

    But just because one has been active in the party in the past does not mean they will be for the rest of their lives.

    It is a great experience for those with the time to be involved.

    But I don't consider myself a "pup on the porch" because, more than a decade ago, I dropped out of all that.

    Volunteer means just that---anyone who has ever volunteered on a campaign or in party politics made the decision to use their spare time that way. And as their life (or their politics) change, they are not required to volunteer forever. Political organizations are more likely to succeed if they remember that basic fact.

    You'd be amazed at the people in politics who are upset when someone echoes the above paragraph.

  • Chuck Wilson (unverified)

    Check out the Stossel special on education:

    There are things we progressives need to do to public schools before the conservatives do it for us, so to speak.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    I highly encourage anyone interested in changing the D Party to do exactly as stated, run for a Precinct Committee Position.

    I did it 2 years ago. Since then I have found the Party open to be changed, ready to change (most of it anyway), and in fact, two years later - it has in fact changed.

    We now have a Rural Caucus, we now have a Party more in tune with rural issues, we now have 4 candidates for the Second Congressional District, we have a resolution supporting Second Amendment gun ownership rights, etc. etc. -- Now all of these things didn't exactly happen just because I became a PCP, but they were certainly my objectives in becoming a PCP.

    So, everyone is welcome to join and play along.

    Errr, well, so long as we agree on everything I just noted!!!

  • LT (unverified)

    Just encountered an interesting quote from Kulongoski.

    In a Washington Post article titled

    Democrats Struggle To Seize Opportunity

    was this amazing quote from our Gov.:

    According to multiple accounts from those in the room, Reid said they had narrowed the list to six and proceeded to talk about them. Pelosi then offered her six -- not all the same as Reid's. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said later: "One of the other governors said 'What do you think?' and I said 'You know what I think? I don't think we have a message.' "

  • Joel Shapiro (unverified)


    Thanks for reminding people how important (and how easy) it is to get involved in the Democratic party and make a difference. Some may believe that party activism is passé. Without engaging that debate here, I will offer the observation that the two party labels still tell a voter more about a candidate that anything else does. If we want the Democratic party to stand for anything, then we should get involved. My PCP form has been filed. I hope we get more slots filled this election cycle.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    Some time back I ran for PCP 4 and, wonders of wonders, I was elected. I was warm & upright (alive). It is the way you put a face on our party and it is also (in our county) who elects officers and delegates. I got active in the Democratic Party to put a more friendly face and more meaningfully active face on it. They found use for my energy and ideas in the County and as a Delegate. Now I've gone a step farther, Candidate. However that works out, I will continue my involvement in DPO, it will continue to be important long after this election is forgotten.

    Some seem to see a fossilized hidebound Party, maybe it's time to take another look. While there are 4 of us running, I'll speak to my own campaign, it's not about politics as usual. I haven't been about politics as usual from the time I got involved and DPO has gone along with me to a great extent. That's not because I'm so wonderful, it's because the Party is trying hard to grow.

  • (Show?)


    Glad to hear you're turning in your PCP form!

    As the new field director for the Multnomah County Party, I look forward to working with all our PCPs, volunteers and candidates this year to elect some great Democrats.

    I can't wait to find out how many people we've had file to be a PCP. Hopefully we'll have even more than we did in 2004.

  • (Show?)

    I turned in my form at 4:45 today. Asked the clerk if they'd had many others in today -- she said, "all day long -- i've had to get up so many times I've lost count!"

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