The city of Denver, which as recently as early September stood a small chance of securing the Democratic National Convention in '08, is a contender once again.
If anything, city leaders can thank the Republicans. Set side-by-side, New York's bid is stronger. But the political argument for Denver is far more compelling, thanks to its geographical location, the blue hue of growing parts of the state, its Latino population, and its Mountain West political culture.
Party sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Denver's third revision of its bid sufficiently addressed a number of technical concerns that originally caused some on the site selection committee to dismiss it entirely.
Some donors are pushing heavily for New York, which turned in superlative a bid and is heavily lobbying the DNC. But some of Howard Dean's closest advisers are warming to Denver.
Those donors hate Dean with a passion because he doesn't kiss their rings. They hate him because he's building a national party. They hate him because Dean doesn't see them as the center of the universe. These are the same jokers who funded Bloomberg. Who are raising money for Lieberman. And they are a corrosive force inside the party.
There is no political advantage for Democrats to hold the convention in New York. None. Sure, it's convenient for those Big Dollar Donors who wouldn't have to get in their private jets to fly to Denver, but this isn't about them. They think everything is about them, but it isn't. It's about building a national party, about expanding our reach into parts of the country that haven't seen the Democratic message but are receptive to it.
Colorado Democrats are about to build on their 2004 successes (which we write about in CTG) with even more dramatic victories this year -- at least the governor's race and one House seat, and potentially three additional House seats. By the end of this year, we should have Democratic governors in much of the Mountain West -- Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Republicans are down to Nevada (maybe) and their two lonely outposts in Idaho and Utah.
Here we have a banner opportunity to deliver the party message straight into the heart of this new rising political force, and the party establishment wants to have their convention in frakin' New York?
These same forces are vividly brought to life in Matt Bai's upcoming Sunday NY Times Magazine piece on Dean and his 50-state strategy.
Before this midterm election-year began, but not long after Dean became party head, Emanuel and Schumer decided that if Dean wasn't going to raise anywhere near as much money as his rivals at Republican headquarters, then he ought to at least give them whatever resources he could muster. They went to work on Dean, pleading with him to transfer as much as $10 million to the two committees to help them respond to the Republican TV barrage. Emanuel told anyone who would listen that back in 1994, when Republicans sensed a similarly historic mood swing in the electorate, the R.N.C. kicked in something like $20 million in cash to its Congressional committees. (This argument was impressive, but not exactly true; the R.N.C. spent roughly that much on federal and local races combined in 1994, and little, if any, of that money went directly to the committees themselves.) Dean categorically refused to ante up. Having opposed the very idea of targeting a small number of states and races, he wasn't about to divert money from his long-term strategy -- what he calls the ``unsexy'' work of rebuilding the party's infrastructure -- to pay for a bunch of TV ads in Ohio. He wanted to win the 2006 elections as much as anyone, Dean told them, and he intended to help where he could. But Democratic candidates and their campaign committees were doing just fine on fund-raising, and the party couldn't continue giving in to the temptation to spend everything it had on every election cycle -- no matter how big a checkbook the Republicans were waving around.
For Schumer, Emanuel and their allies, this rejection was irritating enough. When they heard the stories of how Dean was actually spending the party's cash, however, it was almost more than they could take. Dean was paying for four organizers in Mississippi, where there wasn't a single close House race, but he had sent only three new hires to Pennsylvania, which had a governor's race, a Senate campaign and four competitive House races. Emanuel said he was all for expanding the party's reach into rural states -- roughly half the House seats he was targeting were in states like Texas, Indiana and Kentucky, after all -- but he wanted the D.N.C. to focus on individual districts that Democrats could actually win, as opposed to just spreading money around aimlessly. The D.N.C. was spending its money not only in Alaska and Hawaii, but in the U.S. Virgin Islands as well. Democratic insiders began to rail against this wacky and expensive 50-state plan. ``He says it's a long-term strategy,'' Paul Begala, the Democratic strategist, said during an appearance on CNN in May. ``What he has spent it on, apparently, is just hiring a bunch of staff people to wander around Utah and Mississippi and pick their nose.''
The disagreement with Emanuel and Schumer frayed Dean's already fragile détente with Washington's Democratic elite. Since coming to Washington, Dean had worked hard to forge a level of trust with Congressional leaders, subjugating some of his more combative impulses. In particular, he had formed what he thought of as a genuine friendship with Harry Reid. Nonetheless, the party's elected leaders and their legions of consultants remained uneasy about Dean. They suspected, correctly, that he strongly sympathized with outside forces -- militant bloggers, disillusioned donors, Moveon.org -- that were fomenting rebellion at the grass roots. It didn't help that Dean's younger brother, Jim, a onetime salesman who had taken over the PAC Dean started, Democracy for America, was out there proselytizing for insurgent candidates like Paul Hackett, whom Schumer eventually muscled out of a Senate primary in Ohio, and Ned Lamont, who upended Joe Lieberman in Connecticut. While campaign laws prohibited the Dean brothers from coordinating their activities, Washington Democrats assumed that Jim Dean's job was to carry out the chairman's subversive wishes.
This is an ongoing battle between a handful on insiders who think DC and NY knows best, and that the party should focus on a handful of "battleground" districts in a handful of "battleground" states, and pretty much everyone else in the party. This is not a battle Rahm and Schumer and Pelosi are going to win.
In 4-10 years, future chairs of the DSCC and DCCC are going to praise Dean for his efforts on behalf of a national party. We have great bench talent in places like Oklahoma, Mississippi, Nebraska and pretty much every state traditionally abandoned by the party. When those Senate and House seats open up, and our candidates have a leg up because of the DNC's tireless ground organizing, then Dean will be vindicated.
Until then, it's up to us to get Howard's back against those clubby, elitist DC and NY establishment Dems who think the world revolves around them, that they have all the answers, and that rank and file Dems all over the country should STFU.
- NY-26: Ha ha. The guy in charge of electing House Republicans may not survive the election himself. Tom Reynolds leads Democrat Jack Davis narrowly 45-43 according to SUSA. And given the sorry state of NY's GOP and the top-of-the-ticket firepower from Hillary and Elliot, this is a serious pickup opportunity. Here's a diary on the poll.
- Dems kicking GOP ass in early voting in Iowa.
More than 50,000 Democrats had requested ballots, according to the Iowa secretary of state's office as of Wednesday, compared with just more than 11,000 Republicans, continuing a trend by Democrats in Iowa of emphasizing early voting.
A note of caution -- we won the early voting battle in 2004, only to lose the state at the ballot box to Bush.
- TN-Sen: Man, we lucked out with Corker as our opponent. He's falling apart.
- On the banner ad -- chances are good that it'll stay up through election day. I'm not fond of it, but the Blogads adstrip is full through the election and the banner will allow many cool groups to advertise who would otherwise be shut out. Groups like SaveDarfur.org and Amnesty International, and more such groups in the weeks ahead. I won't let that ad strip be occupied with b.s. crappy advertisers.