On the need for Dem candidates in every district

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I had the privilege to chat with Carolyn Hunt for a little while during the Sanford-Hunt-Frye breakfast yesterday, and one of the main topics we discussed was recruiting candidates for the upcoming 2018 Legislative races. I also mentioned our previous efforts to keep track of the filing process, with an eye towards challenging as many R incumbents as we could. Understand folks: Filing season is coming up quickly, and finding the right person to run needs to start right now. By "right person" I don't necessarily mean somebody whose conservative leanings fit better in an R-leaning district, I mean somebody who has the smarts, the dedication, the motivation, and the pure energy it takes to swim against the current. Follow me below the fold and I'll tell you why I think this is so important:

For years I have heard (and seen it written) that organizing at the precinct level is a critical part of party-building. But until I actually took part in the process earlier this year, I really didn't comprehend how difficult that was. I live in a fairly populous county, and I just assumed that most (if not all) of our voting precincts were being at least monitored by Democrats, if not dominated by. The truth is, getting just five Democrats from almost any given precinct to show up is a monumental challenge, and way too many precincts end up with no officially recognized Democratic Party representation.

Now, we can argue all day about why that is happening, and point fingers at each other for past indiscretions or a culture of disregard for certain classes of voters, or what have you. But at the end of the day, we have to give these people a reason to show up. A local reason. Without a Democratic candidate to support for their NC Senate or House District, they can paste on their Hillary bumper stickers and look down their noses at Trump supporters in their neighborhood, but they're not going to knock on somebody's door and have that argument. Some might, but most won't. And I don't blame them. The cost/benefit analysis on that kind of activity is not encouraging. But if they can talk about a candidate who lives a couple miles away, maybe went to the same high school they did, now that's a different story. Then you can talk about things that happen right there in the district, or more importantly: Things that aren't happening. Teachers that aren't being paid properly, roads that aren't being maintained, and why all-of-a-sudden they have to pay sales taxes when they get their car fixed.

The bottom line is: We have a representative government. If we want more Democrats in areas currently dominated by Republicans, we have to give them representatives to vote for. I'm sure many of you will agree with me on this, but there is nothing more disheartening than looking at a ballot with only a Republican listed as running. You might say, "But Steve, that should encourage people to get involved, maybe run for office!" To which I would reply, "What world are you living in?" That may be evidence of a need for change, but it's also evidence of a lack of interest, a Party that has written off an entire District. Sure, we can get into the demographics, the reality of trying to use limited resources wisely and such. But to that person looking at the ballot, those are merely rationalizations, which quickly turns to ash in their mouths. A few election cycles of that, and they will either a) change their party affiliation to Republican or Unaffiliated so they can vote in the Republican Primary and at least "feel" like they're involved in choosing their Legislative reps, or b) Only vote in Presidential races where they actually have a choice, or c) just stop showing up on election day, period.

Something else I mentioned to Carolyn Hunt: We often hear talk about riding coattails, energetic Congressional or Presidential candidates helping "down-ballot" races. But it works both ways, doesn't it? During Governor Hunt's remarks yesterday, he mentioned the loss of Council of State seats, and this is an issue that has me more concerned (or just as) than our gerrymandered districts. These are state-wide races, totally outside the influence of redistricting, that rely exclusively on voter turnout. And we got our asses kicked. We went from a majority (5 out of 8) to a minority (3 out of 8) in the last election. And as we all know, incumbents on the Council of State are damned hard to tip out of their seats.

As a body, the Council of State doesn't exert a whole lot of influence, as compared to the main three branches of the government. But as a bellwether, a signal of trending phenomena, it is incredibly important. And not having Democratic candidates in over a third of the General Assembly races may have been a key factor in this upheaval. Yes, we retook the Governor's mansion. But after the feckless and downright embarrassing McCrory administration, and considering the many positive strengths of Roy Cooper, that election should have been a landslide, and not a 10,000 vote nail-biter.

Every General Assembly district contains Democrats, and they deserve a candidate to vote for. They deserve a candidate who will ask the tough questions of those Republican incumbents, who will take them to task. And once those questions are out there, that district's voting population might begin to have some questions of their own, and who knows where that will lead? There's only one way to find out.

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Comments

Just an added observation:

I really don't like to get my hopes up too much, and I think whittling away at the GOP's Veto-proof majority is probably a wise goal, as opposed to thinking we can flip both houses back to Dem control in 2018.

That being said, God only knows what the political environment will be like by November 2018, after nearly two years of Donald Trump. If we're still alive... Seriously, even though his base/base (idiots) seem to be still supporting him, the spectacle itself is shaking the Republican Party by its foundations. There have always been "waves" that roll back and forth in this country, between favoring Republicans and Democrats. What happened to North Carolina in 2010 was more of a national wave than any sort of state party phenomena, no matter what the purity patrol will tell you.

The only way we can take advantage of that (potential) anti-Trump wave is to have Democrats on every ballot, challenging every single Republican incumbent. 2018 won't be a "normal" election cycle, and you can take that to the bank.

Great post.

Great post. This is the best articulation of the need for candidates and every district that I've ever seen. Very nicely done.

If you're reading this, please share it, maybe a couple of times.

Thanks, the subject had been

banging around in my head almost non-stop since mid-day yesterday. Went to bed thinking about it and woke up thinking about it.

I think it was partly triggered by a Tweet or a Facebook comment I had read from a GOP consultant, who was saying geographical population trends were working against Democrats, since Liberals were continuing to gravitate to urban areas and Progressive "enclaves." Which is not wrong. Combine that with the tendency to devote a lot of GOTV effort in mainly those same areas, and you end up with a hell of a lot of red territory. Not good.

Dems in every district

When I just registered to vote in Carolina Beach, I got a letter from my local house rep and congressman, both r's. Why doesn't the Democratic Party send a letter to new voters? Will I get a letter about my precinct meeting? Probably not, and I've been a precinct chair in another county. It takes planting seeds and tending the lawn to start the grass roots. A nice letter listing the contacts of the precinct chair, precinct meeting day, local democratic men's club, and thanks for choosing the party of turning the clock forward again, would be a nice surprise.

We have to run candidates to win. Berger ran unopposed. We have to have an agenda other than we are not for Trump. How will we be different? I know what I stand for, what does the party stand for? To turn out our base and grow it, we have to relate to them, and not just when we want their vote. We have to not only say we will be different, we have to say how we will be different.

GJ

This is a great suggestion

Sending letters to newly registered voters should be required procedure for the party at every level. Smart candidates should do the same.