Lately, I’ve been reading the criticisms of Obama’s decision to appoint Virginia Tim Kaine to chair the DNC.
Concerns surround a fear that Dean’s 50 State Strategy will be terminated.
After meeting Chairman Kaine at the DNC Winter Meeting, hearing his acceptance speech and seeing his choices for DNC staff so far, I don’t feel it likely that the 50 State Strategy will be dismantled.
Kaine was elected chair almost unanimously, along with a combination of new faces such as a Vice Chair for Voter Participation (and former Gore campaign manager) Donna Brazile, and Vice Chair Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schulz (D-FL), and experienced DNC leaders such as Vice Chair and California Congressman Mike Honda, California’s own Alice Germond as Secretary and Andrew Tobias as Treasurer.
Only Kaine made an acceptance speech, but what he said was noteworthy to those concerned about the 50 State Strategy. He pointed out that he was its first beneficiary when he was elected Virginia Governor 4 years ago and praised its effectiveness in party building in corners of our country that had once been written off for dead.
This indicates to me that he has every intention of continuing Chairman Dean’s highly successful program.
This is further evidenced by the appointment of Jennifer O’Malley-Dillon as DNC Chief of Staff.
In the DNC, the Chief of Staff is the person who is responsible for taking the vision of the Chair and making it real, directing the DNC staff day to day as the Chair raises money, does media appearances and other publicity-related events.
O’Malley Dillion is no back room functionary.
O’Malley Dillon served as Sen. John Edward’s Iowa Caucus Director and Obama’s Midwest Battleground States Coordinator (she also served as Iowa Governor Chet Culver’s Chief of Staff) and was recruited by Obama grassroots wizard and Deputy Campaign Manager Steve Hildebrand for the position.
With her involvement with Obama and Edwards, O’Malley-Dillon has been involved in the building of two strong grassroots organizations laid atop the foundation of the 50 State Strategy and in my opinion is unlikely to see its dismantling.
I’ve also heard criticism of his policies as Governor, but the DNC chair does not make policy and Dean’s contributions, namely building the voter file and the 50 state strategy were not policy oriented either, although his early opposition to the Iraq War in 2004 added to his credibility among the Netroots.
My feeling is that Kaine will likely be an effective organizer to build on Chairman Dean’s legacy and focus the organization on the party-building needed to protect and expand our majorities in 2010 and 2012. Further, the rise of states that gave Obama his victory, including Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and Indiana, amongst others have led to widespread institutional support of this program, leading its early doubters to rethink their positions.
California, which is solidly blue statewide, improved its legislative majorities thanks to investing in rural and exurban parties as well.
Canceling the 50 State Strategy would likely lead to a wide outcry among state party leaders and the Netroots alike.
I think that the 50 State Strategy will continue, as Kaine’s personnel decisions and rhetoric clearly indicate such support of Governor Dean’s legacy programs. I certainly will do what I can to support its continued successes.