Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are privately bristling over Howard Dean's management of the Democratic National Committee and have made those sentiments clear after new fundraising numbers showed he has spent nearly all the committee's cash and has little left to support their efforts to gain seats this cycle.
Several well-informed Democratic sources said Congressional leaders were furious last week when they learned the DNC has just $5.5 million in the bank, compared to the Republican National Committee's $34 million.
Sources also indicated that Senate and House Minority Leaders Harry Reid (Nev.) and Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), along with the Senate and House campaign committee chairmen Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), have made their concerns -- directly or indirectly -- known to Dean.
"People are bringing him to Jesus," said a Democratic source familiar with DNC operations. "It's being expressed to him. He knows it."
But this source added that "Dean is very powerful within the base of the party and from the beginning hasn't [cared] about what Pelosi and Reid think. He doesn't need them, he's his own power center."
How many times do we need to call bullshit on this? I've done it here and here. Yet the cowards in this piece refuse to put their names to their criticisms. Nice way to show conviction. In fact, the two people cited by name (including our new friend Elmendorf) actually praise Dean.
Tagaris summarizes the points I've seemingly made over and over again:
1.) The DNC raised more than $51 million in 2005 - a record for a non-election year and a 20% increase over the total raised in 2003.
2.) More than 30,000 Americans have invested in the future of the Democratic Party through the Democracy Bonds program. At an average contribution of $20 a month that's roughly $7 million a year in recurring small-dollar contributions.
3.) To date, the DNC has hired talented, experienced, diverse political professionals in 43 states. Thirty of those states have sent their staffers to Washington, DC for several days of training from top Democratic operatives about how to effectively organize Democrats in their communities.
4.) Governor Dean and the DNC invested more than $7 million to elect new Democratic governors Jon Corzine in New Jersey and Tim Kaine in Virginia. Democrats also reaped important ballot box victories at the local level in places like Mobile, Alabama, St. Paul, Minnesota and King County, Washington.
5.) Governor Dean has traveled to 34 states and territories during his first year as chairman to talk about Democratic values and raise money for the local parties. Those states, red, blue, and purple, include:
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
The cowardly shots in the beltway press come from disaffected insider consultants who see their lucrative gigs in danger. Dean is out raising money directly for the state parties and finally investing in the sort of infrastructure that Republicans spent decades building.
If it was up to these DC insiders, Dean would hoarde tens of millions to dump into television later this year, just as the DNC has done in the past. And just like in the past, the DNC would parsel out its advertising contracts to all the various consultancies to spread the money around, they would all take their nice fact commissions, and they'd laugh all the way to the bank as the local parties further atrophied and the Dems lost yet another election.
The RNC also has a well-oiled, well-funded GOTV machine they've spent the last three election cycles building and fine-tuning, all the while Democrats continued to pump all their resources into television. It doesn't take a genius to see which approach has worked better.
Republicans built their local parties, Dems let theirs atrophy. Finally, someone at the helm realizes that we are a national party and need to rebuild from the ground up. Finally, someone at the helm is providing resources and attention to those locals to build a counterbalance to the GOP's national machine.
And such rebuilding costs money. But in the long run, this is how you build a national party.
As for the cowardly insiders -- they don't have the force of conviction to stand publicly by their criticisms. Instead they hide behind Roll Call. But the reasons are obvious -- a real debate on the issue would expose their craven self-interest in the matter.