We Need to Make it a Right Now Project

Several Days ago Kos wrote this post:TN-Pres: Worse than Kerry. Kos made a call for Tennessee to be a long-term project. I think it needs to be a “Right Now” project.

I’m half a world away from Tennessee right now (Hawai’I, I feel your crocodile tears), and haven’t had a chance to look deeper into the results yet, but from what I’ve seen happen in the state races, I’m sure it’s ugly.

Someone needs to take Tennessee under it’s wing and teach it’s Democratic institutions how to function, because all our Democratic leaders are doing is pointing the finger at the Obama campaign for not spending enough money in the state.

I call bull.

It’s not Obama’s job to flood every state with money that thinks it needs it. Obama was trying to win the Presidency, and did a pretty damn good job of it. It’s the local and state party’s job to keep the state competitive and make a case for spending money in the state. Look at the money spent in Georgia, there was a case made, and they took a shot. We made no such case to the Obama campaign.

Right now, I’m not sure if they boys at the helm of the TNDP can even tie their shoes, much less make a compelling case for anything other than their ouster. But I’m not pointing fingers, really, just pointing out realities.

So, what happened to the TNDP? When did it happen? Has the TNDP always been spinning in a circle desperate to find its rear end, or is this a new condition? Honestly, I’m new(ish) here, I’m asking.

I don’t know how incompetent the party was before 2006, but it just seems like something happened, and 2006, from what I’m hearing, seems like about when it happened.

What pissed off Kurita in 2007 so bad to hand the State Senate over to the Republicans? Could it be the combination of the way she was booted out of the US Senate Primary, only to be rebuffed by the Democratic establishment once again in the State Senate? Or was she just a single bad apple that saw nothing but her own future? I’m not defending her, I’m wondering aloud.

As a partisan, I’m glad the TNDP stepped up to the plate and removed Kurita, but they screwed themselves by waiting until after the primary as I’ve stated before. They had to take their eye off other races to deal with something that should have been dealt with before a single vote was cast, and that left a bad taste in the mouths of many Tennesseans.

I sent money to Barnes up in 22 (I think, hard to remember now) before the primary at the urging of LWC not the TNDP, or any other Democratic functionary. I probably would have sent money to more if I’d been asked. I never was. In fact, I have not received one single email from the TNDP this entire cycle. I checked.

Still the TNDP had some pretty good fundraising as far as I can tell. The TNDP started out 2008 with $195k in the bank. In it’s pre-primary disclosure, the TNDP had $12k in disbursements, in support of Shelby County Trustee Paul Mattila. In the October Disclosure we find $33k of in-kind for Randy Camp, $33k for Becky Ruppe, $37k transferred to the federal account and $70k spent on voter ID calls, and ended the period with $330k in the bank.

Between 10/1 and 10/29 the TNDP raised $1.5m, and spent $1.66m on scads of candidates throughout the state. Question: If the TNDP could raise all that money and do all that stuff in the last month of the campaign, why couldn’t they have spread that same effort out over some time to build up the candidates they knew were at risk to build them up over time?

I know that a lot of money gets raised/spent in the last month of a campaign, but last-ditch efforts do not make up for long term planning. The TNDP should be engaged in candidate building, not wild, last second butt covering.

So now, in the wake of our defeat in the state legislature, and I call it our defeat because we, as Democrats have to own it to move past it, we have some critical decisions to make:

1. Who is the future face of the party? Bredesen is done in 2010, and has never seemed too interested in anything but his own ass. Who will take over his role as the highest Democratic figure in the state? Who will emerge to make the case for Democratic ideals? What are the unifying issues that make our ideals compelling to Tennesseans? How do we communicate these ideals to Tennesseans in a way that moves them to vote against newly installed Republican incumbents?

2. What do we want the party to look like? We have to start right now, positioning ourselves as the underdog, exposing any shenanigans from the Republican Party. But we also have to examine our local and state operations, and make strategic decisions on how to strengthen them instead of tactical decisions on how to not fail.

3. How will we be structured? Will we continue to operate as a top down organization, or will we exploit our natural resources, our passion, our resolve, and move into the uncharted territory of a groundswell type of organization that values local issues and activists, and utilizes their passion, under the umbrella of a statewide framework, to bring more people in, rather than keep people out?

This is our challenge going forward. It’s easy to blame, it’s hard to work for a better party and a better future, but right now is the time to start doing that. We have one year to turn it around before the next cycle starts up. We have no time to waste.

0 Replies to “We Need to Make it a Right Now Project”

  1. I don’t know how incompetent the party was before 2006, but it just seems like something happened, and 2006, from what I’m hearing, seems like about when it happened.

    Try 1994 when Jim Sasser got his ass handed to him by Bill Frist.

    Try 1996 when the vulnerable Fred Thompson handily beat Bart Gordon.

    Try 2000 when Gore lost his home state (after being told to leave it alone by Donna Brazile), which if he’d have won here, Florida would have been a footnote.

    Try 2002 when Bredesen sucked up to every available Republican to win their support, and has been bragging how popular he is among Republicans ever since, and how he’s been saying that Tennessee is a Republican state at every opportunity.

    Try again in 2002 when Bredesen won his first election and turned around and installed his personal fundraising team at TDP.

    Try 2004 when TDP wouldn’t help to fund the Kerry race and Bredesen was chastising Kerry activists to sit it out since it was a hopeless case.

    Point being… longstanding issue. Much longer back than 2006.

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