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When I wrote about NDFA endorsing Kelly, somebody asked "What's NDFA." Well my answer was brief, incomplete, and written on-line. Here's a more complete answer.

NDFA is a local chapter of DFA, Democracy for America, which is what Dr. Howard Dean changed Dean for America to when he folded his presidential campaign. Its present chair is Jim Dean, Howard's brother. It's NDFA becaues it is Northside Democracy for America, where the Northside is the north side of Chicago. (In Chicago usage, the north side is the northern part close to Lake Michigan; the rest of the northern part on the map is the northwest side.)

The last time we drew official boundaries, we listed 6 of the 50 Chicago wards: 50, 49, 47, 48, 40, 46. We have never excluded members from elsewhere, and we seem to have sprawled a little since. (Indeed, the current chair doesn't live within those boundaries.) Chicago is so large that a group with an impact on the city would have a membership larger than could comfortably meet in one space. Still, there doesn't seem to be any other DFA group currently very active in Chicago.

Because our city is virtually all-Democratic and our neighborhood is primarily liberal, most of our campaigning has been carpetbagging. Indiana in the primary and Iowa in the general for Obama in '08, congressional, state senator, and state rep campaigns in the suburbs, primarying Dan Lipinski on the Southwest Side in '08, etc.

As stated in our bylaws, "Northside Democracy For America (NDFA) has a mission to elect socially progressive, fiscally responsible, and ethically committed Democrats at all levels of government, with the overarching goal of increasing the progressive nature of government."

"Socially progressive" and "fiscally responsible" we got from the national DFA statement of purpose. "Ethically committed" is necessary because we are in Chicago. We have suspended the bylaws once to support a man running as an independent (he had previously run as a Democrat). We do not feel that this statement restricts us in local elections which are officially non-partisan in Chicago. (The last non-partisan election in Chicago elected Rahm Emanuel to be mayor and a guy who had been a Democratic state rep to be my alderman.)

NDFA meets once a month (currently second Tuesday at the Lincoln Restaurant). We have one or more invited speakers except for "war-story" sessions after each election. Anybody who attends a meeting may speak in the open discussions, but votes are restrictied to people who have attended 3 meetings (including the meeting at which the vote is taken) and participated in 3 campaign events in the past 12 months. We emphasize canvassing, because that is the gold standard of campaign activities. Phone banking, office work for a candidate, and attending fund-raisers also count. Only campaign events for our endorsed candidates after they have been endorsed and after your first meeting count. NDFA members are encouraged to run for office, and anyone who does so after becoming a voting member has his membership extended for a year after the election in which he or she runs.

During the Dean campaign, there were meetings of Dean For America in the neighborhood. Two of the Democracy for America groups who continued meeting were the Edgewater group (one of the named neighborhoods in Chicago) and the Heartland group (a northside restaurant which was the meeting place). The Heartland group visited the Edgewater group and was impressed by their meeting. They voted to merge into that group. The Edgewater-Heartland group later changed its name to NDFA.

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