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January 21, 2005

Good Candidates, Good Ideas - Interviews with Candidates for Washington State Democratic Party Chair

I interviewed the four candidates for Chair of the Democratic Party in Washington State and I'll post those interviews one at a time over this next week. I was impressed. I asked them about their ideas for revitalizing the Party and left information about who is endorsing them and what they’ve done in their political lives for others to provide. The 46th District Democrats, in particular, have a thorough set of interviews on their site.

All four are focused on how to make use of what they’ve learned both from this last election cycle and from their years working in the Party.  Here's the short version.  Check back over the next few days for the full interviews.

Paul Berendt has been Chair of the Washington State Democrats for the last ten years and has seen and made a lot of changes during that time. He carries both the institutional history and the institutional baggage of being in that role for that period of time. He understands that people have changed their relationship to the Party. They want to be more involved. They want greater control over the decision of the Party and more input into what it stands for.

Kat Overman has a wealth of varied political experience and is currently Legislative Assistant to State Representative Mike Sells of the 38th District. She is passionate about updating the Party’s databases and about grassroots campaigning. She suggests finding local Democrats who can “tend their own little garden” of people in their neighborhood and thus rebuild the Party across the state from the ground up.

Greg Rodriquez, most recently the Chair of the King County Democrats, wants to approach running the Party in a much more businesslike fashion. He wants to get everything running like clockwork as he was able to do with the King County Democratic Club. He sees the need for building a team in the State Party and building alliances with other state progressive organizations. He sees what the Republicans have done over the last thirty years and thinks we can catch up in a relatively short time.

Bill Phillips
focuses on “message, message, message.” He talks about the Republicans’ red walls and our blue Towers and the need to dismantle those red walls by communicating messages that move Independent and moderate Republican voters but doesn’t violate our Democratic principles. Coming from Louisiana, Bill says he speaks “Southern” and can communicate with voters who are not always with us.   

I don’t know any of these folks well and don’t know if they have the tactical ability to do what they say they want to do. The people in the Democratic State Committee do however know them and will, I trust, be voting accordingly.

That will happen on January 29th in Olympia at the annual reorganization meeting of the Washington State Democratic Party. A slate of officers for 2005-2007 will be elected after giving presentations to the 176 electors – the state committee folks from each county and each legislative district.

Once the Chair is elected, or reelected as the case may be, our job starts. We cannot leave the important business of running the Democratic Party to a small group of people.  The new Chair's success will depend on our on-going involvement and on that person's ability to keep the other candidates involved as well.

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 21, 2005 at 04:21 PM in Inside Baseball, Interviews | Permalink


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Thanks for posting the interviews; good reading.
Regardless of who wins, there is a clear need to capture the excitement of the Dem caucuses and channel that energy into defeating R's.

This is a referendum on P.Berendt's leadership. Regardless of his accomplishments, the public opinion of the Washington State Dems is shattered due to the Gregoire victory/recount. C.Vance always out there with a wild quote that frames the issue very adversely for the D's. No doubt ramifications for both Cantwell and the State Leg races in 2006. Time for the D's to learn how to frame the issues better -- whoever is the next chair.

Posted by: Wes | Jan 23, 2005 8:45:18 PM

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