Saturday, July 22, 2006

Big 3, or All 23?

This is one of the things I love about Governor Howard Dean:

Election by election, state by state, precinct by precinct, door by door, vote by vote... we're going to lift our Party up and take our country back for the people who built it!
Dean's 50 State Strategy at the DNC is giving a much needed boost to long neglected state and local parties, campaigns and grassroots activists. It's been criticized for taking scarce resources away from critical battlegrounds, but that is incredibly short-sighted. The 50 State Strategy is about the long term, about rebuilding the grassroots foundation of a party that for too long has surrendered districts and even entire states without much of a fight.

The American experiment in representative democracy works best when there are at least two parties participating.

Similarly I have heard Terry Lierman, Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party (and himself a Dean campaign alum), say that one of his goals is to make sure the Dems compete for every elected position in the state, even in areas that are traditional strongholds of the GOP.

As most students of Maryland politics know, the Democrats have traditionally held sway in the "Big 3" - Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, and the City of Baltimore. Encompassing the major population centers in a state where Democratic voter registrations outnumber Republicans 2-to-1, those three jurisdictions have most often been enough to carry the day for the Dems in statewide races and to give them majorities in both houses of the state legislature.

However, times are changing (witness Governor Bob Ehrlich, a Republican elected last go-round). Democrats can no longer be complacent and just count on the Big 3 to carry them through to victory.

That's why I found this post on Daily Kos to be disheartening. One of Maryland's US Senate seats is open for the first time in a generation. There's a fairly large field of candidates competing for the Democratic nomination, and a hard fought primary certainly puts stresses on campaigns. Perhaps because of that, and perhaps because some pols are still adhering to the Big 3 strategy, Democratic voters in southern Maryland and outlying areas again feel they've been abandoned.

So, here's an appeal to all our statewide candidates (not that they care what I think, of course) - compete in all 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore, not just the Big 3! Don't abandon the blue voters who just happen to live in red precincts! Show them that you know they're are a part of Maryland too!

It doesn't have to divert precious resources from key areas. Think creatively, use the web, reach out to the grassroots and, maybe more importantly, listen to the grassroots! Early on in 2003, Dean had staff in just one state, but he had an organization in dozens! Volunteers, who were encouraged and given tools and information by hq built impressive, innovative local campaigns while also providing feedback and financial support to the national office.

Follow the lead of Dean and Lierman, and don't surrender any part of our state! It will pay off for all of us in the long run.

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