(crossposted at MyDD)
The 2006-midterm elections presented Democrats with a historic opportunity to strengthen the party brand and retake control of both houses of congress. Party members of all stripes helped secure an election day capped with record setting victories through the nation.
Although Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy emphasizes long run party building over the short term electoral gains, its immediate success was vitally important not only to Americans hoping to derail the Bush agenda, but also to Democratic people powered movements in general. Would grassroots level party building strengthen the brand or would it be wasted on people picking their noses in “red America”?
Well, obviously we can now say that grassroots level party building has definitely strengthened the Democratic brand. So, if it entails being called a nose picker, then nose pickers we must be.
Wes Clark worked as hard or harder than any other Democrat to further the 50-state strategy and the Democratic Party. It must have taken a record setting amount of nose picking.
At the DNC convention earlier this month, Clark said:
I thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I did spend much of last year out stumping for Democratic candidates across the country. And by my count, it was I think 26 states, 86 candidates. A lot of them were the so-called red states, and I loved it. It was more fun, and I'll tell you something. I could see in those states and those candidates, I could see Governor Howard Dean's vision for a 50-state strategy is working.
No Democrat traveled and campaigned for more candidates around this country than did Wes Clark. He traveled to 76 cities and 26 states for 86 candidates. Out of the 96 candidates that he endorsed, Clark raised over $1.3 million in funds for their campaigns. Of those 96 candidates that his PAC supported, 45 won their respective races and 25 seats flipped from Republican to Democrat control.
He was the number one requested campaign surrogate through the DCCC and the only National Democrat that netroots icon, Jon Tester, would allow to campaign for him in Montana. From the beginning, Clark backed economic progressive Jim Webb in the primary when Harris Miller, party insider and lobbyist, was the sacrificial lamb for then-presidential hopeful George Allen. When national democrats shied away from supporting Ned Lamont and refused to criticize Joe Lieberman, Clark stepped up for Connecticut Democrats. Not only did he campaign and appear in television spots for Lamont, but also he publicly and vociferously lambasted Lieberman for his horrible record and Orwellian rhetoric.
Speaking in terms of netroots’ Democrats, Clark endorsed, campaigned, and raised money for 13 out of the 17 actblue “netroots candidates.” Out of the 6 that won their long shot races, Clark worked for every single one:
NH-02 Paul Hodes
CA-11 Jerry McNerney
PA-08 Patrick Murphy
PA-07 Joe Sestak
MT-SN Jon Tester
MN-01 Tim Walz
VA-SN Jim Webb
Clark’s online participation and web presence is underappreciated but has been instrumental in helping get Democrats elected. He not only helped found Vote Vets, the PAC that aired the heart wrenching body armor slots on both youtube and television that undermined Republican national support, but he also appeared in ads himself. The National Journal on his online efforts:
The Clark Community Network has engaged in netroots activities including petitioning, fundraising, research and guidebooks to support campaigns up and down the ballot. Here is a summary activity:
Online Advocacy Campaigns
• Stop the “GI Tax” and support GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century (29,919 letters sent)
• Stop Blaming the Troops — Investigate the Real Culprits of Prisoner Abuse (14,778 signers)
• Put Ed Schultz on Armed Forces Radio (26,722 letters sent) Ed Schultz placed on Armed Forces Radio following advocacy campaign
• Demand Body Armor for our Troops (17,331 signers)
• Support the Consumer Telephone Records Protection Act of 2006 (16,728 letters sent)
• End the Widow’s Tax (16,948 letters sent)
WesPac, Clark’s PAC, has a stronger presence on Myspace than does any other potential presidential candidate. Those people are part of the hard-core group of online supporters that the General has leveraged to build and strengthen the Party. Clark hasn’t even announced his potential candidacy for president yet and his PAC has more support than does any other candidate:
The National Journal asks, “Is Anyone Doing More for ’06 Candidates Than Wes Clark?”
Since January of 2005, General Clark has made Democratic success on Election Day 2006 his top political priority. He established WesPAC Securing America’s Future from which he has spoken on behalf of Democratic candidates and causes. General Clark briefed Congressional Leaders several times this cycle as part of his effort to assist Democrats in framing both the message and substance of Democratic alternatives to the Administration’s vision.
• Senate Chiefs of Staff Luncheon (x2)
• House Democratic Caucus (x2)
• House Democratic Caucus Retreat (x2)
• United States Senate Democratic Caucus Retreat (’06)
• Democratic Policy Committee (US Senate) Luncheon (x2)
• Joint House and Senate Leadership Briefings (x2)
• Rollout of Joint House and Senate “Real Security” Plan at Union Station
• House Democrats Rollout of the “New GI Bill”
• Gave the National Democratic Radio Address (x2)
Clark has been influencing policy both behind the scenes and out in front. While working as an analyst for Fox, he’s exposed himself and his views to the very side of the nation that needs most convincing. As he smacks down charlatan after charlatan, Clark makes necessary inroads to a more conservative demographic for the Democratic Party.
These are just some of the things that Wes Clark has been doing in an effort to build the Democratic Party’s brand recently. He may fly under many pundits’ radars, but he is certainly doing the necessary manual labor that it is going to take to clean up this Party and this country.