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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Key to Success – Lesson for Frederick

Jack Lynch

"When I first came in, there was nobody here," says Dorr, 78, who has helped so many campaigns over the years that she's lost count. "This whole week, this office was basically empty." – Clinton supporter.

"It's like we had this whole movement built up before the campaign staff even got here," says McCall, 36. In a few months, McCall, a political novice, has built an organization rivaling that of some state senators who form the backbone of Clinton's establishment support. "By the time they finally opened the office," she says, "this place was packed." – Obama supporter.

What the Democratic Party needs in Frederick is far from what it has been able to develop over most of its past existence. Perhaps it was at its best during the first Dougherty mayoral campaign. (Of course, it probably had some pretty good machines back in the day – to begin to understand that, I recommend that you try to catch Tom Slater's presentation of his thesis at a local historical event).
Block captains, voter lists, (and while not a machine that selects and grooms candidates), it is instead, a network – that's the key factor needed locally. It is capable of being so much more engaged and active at that network, it's a shame and truly sort of redneck that it is not doing its job.
We need more shots in the arm from higher level state politicians. More connection and consensus of members. More fundraising and support in-between campaigns and elections. More public action.
Pared down, the City really consists of a few thousand key voters.
The county is tougher. Worst, opinion polling is almost nonexistent at any time. Word of mouth can be useful and encouraging, but it is so un-nuanced and unreliable, and there are significant disinformation campaigns at the county level.
Parties do not vet their primary candidates and support them, they fear losing voter support – but a level of help is exactly what the candidate inspired groups need most in order to run successfully.
A local pundit suggested another idea, harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of the young, but mixing it with the experience of those who've followed local politics over the long run. Clearly the opportunity is there now for the Democrats, especially given the national elements of the race.
The local Republican race to the bottom feeding issue of immigration enforcement is another factor that lends itself to Democratic gains given the changing demographics here. Growing minority populations are not going to support crackdowns on those living and working peacefully and supporting our welfare and economic growth.
As one of those embraced by the growth issues however, I have to question whether the many politically involved attorneys with land use clients really want to build a vital Democratic party organization that could fuel opposition to their own self-interests. Our primary challenger's views harbor no such concerns.
But in a way, I also enjoy the benefits of subverting the party's conservative reflexes on maintaining its historic stranglehold over these matters. There was little more pleasing than promoting and winning a bipartisan effort in the last county election. The smoke filled big R rooms will try to crush any further attempts at that voter crossover. And the wine and brie big D crowd will also fight to belie any further crossover tickets.
Issues will determine their success at both ends of the spectrum.

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