On Friday, I had a chance to chat with DNC Chairman Howard Dean. Naturally, I asked him about the Western strategy.
Over at BlueOregon, Jeff Alworth (who joined me on the call) has the write-up. Here's what Dean said about the West:
"We’re ahead in New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado right now. We think the road to the White House leads through the west, and if we win those three states, I think Barack Obama will be the next president. [Even] Montana is in play. We're only down two there."
Not only that, but Dean's 50-state strategy is a key underpinning to Obama's 50-state strategy - which includes the West and extends beyond it:
"What Barack is trying to accomplish is something Bush willfully chose not to do. Barack wants to be president of all America, not just the half that agrees with him. The reason he’s adopted the fifty-state strategy is because he wants to be the president even of people who don’t agree with him so he can reunify the country. That’s what I find so refreshing, a candidate that wants to bring people together instead of what McCain is doing by driving them apart. So being a player in every region of the country matters: North Carolina, Virginia is in play, there’s the western states that we talked about that are in play—and that hasn’t happened for a long, long time. And I think that’s the kind of President Barack Obama will be, someone who cares about all the American people, not just those who agree with him."
Good stuff. Let's bring this one home, folks.
Kari Chisholm | September 15, 2008 | Comment on This Post (0 so far)
To Denver, to the organizers of and participants in the Democratic National Convention, and to the Obama-Biden ticket I only add: well done, good show, and on to victory in November!
In a release, the DNC points out that turnout on Super Tuesday was stunningly high throughout the West -- which bodes well for the general election.
• In Colorado, Democrats saw twice the number of caucus-goers as Republicans—119,184 to 55,845. Yesterday’s turnout was eight times higher than that of turnout from 2004 when only 15,000 participated. [Denver Post, 2/6/08]
• In Idaho, 21,224 people caucused for Democrats, far exceeding anyone’s expectations, and forcing officials to print more ballots. [AP, 2/5/08; cnn.com, 2/6/08]
• In Arizona, 368,828 people turned out for Democrats, far exceeding the record of 239,000. [cnn.com, 2/6/08]
• In New Mexico, more than 152,000 ballots were cast, far surpassing the 2004 number of 104,000 in 2004.
• And in Utah, 122,617 people came out for Democrats, far exceeding the 33,839 who participated in the 2004 primary. [cnn.com]
It's going to be a good year.
Dean was in Denver recently to speak to supporters in advanced of the 2008 convention being held there. Because this man was really the final decision-maker in the whole process, I move that Howard Dean becomes an honory Western Democrat. In fact, his policy positions would probably resonate well out here (fiscal responsibility, social libertarianism) and along with his plain-spoken character he pretty much embodies the principles (well, maybe except for the wealthy east coaster thing...but hey).
Here's the man in his own words:
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Thursday that holding the Democratic National Convention in Denver will show the nation that the West has a road map for Democrats to win the White House next year.
"This is going to be the beginning of a new America," Dean told an overflow rally of supporters at the Denver Convention Center.
Dean said Democratic gains in the West show that voters want politicians to focus on collaboration and values. He said those values include fairness, honesty and a system of government for all Americans, not just a chosen few.
It seemed like his speech resonated well with people in attendence (and are connected):
Julia Hicks, former vice chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party, said she was moved by Dean's speech and that Dean was right about his support for Western values that have allowed Democrats to make steady progress in the region, picking up governorships from Montana to Arizona in recent years and in Colorado in November. The party also has gained House seats and made significant inroads in state legislatures.
She said Democrats in the West want to focus on problems, not divisive social issues, and that many regional Democrats are moderates who support gun rights, taking away issues traditionally considered Republican standards.
"People in the West are independent. They march to their own drummer," Hicks said.
We've been talking about this for a long time but there MUST be a westerner on the ticket in 2008. If the party wants to reform the electoral battlefield and WIN in 2008, they'll probably be a lot of cowboy boots at that convention.
Over at MyDD, Jerome Armstrong is blogging the DNC winter meeting. Here's what he has to say about the two Western Democrats in the presidential race:
Bill Richardson: "Stay lose, we gotta year to go", says Richardson regarding his stand in the polls. Richardson's intro is "lean on me" by Bill Withers [the hip hop remix], and closes with some cha-cha music. He looks great-- Richardson might be getting tips from Huckabee. He is one of two that I believe can break out of the second tier. Richardson has a big opening in Nevada, if he is able to mobilize Latino voters to show up. If he does, in a week when it's the only contest and there's not a competing Republican contest for media attention, he's gonna pop onto the radar in a very big way. Then, maybe Florida? Don't count out union support for Richardson either, as he's got a record in New Mexico that's very union-friendly. Teachers too, Richardson came with NM at 47th in pay and is now in the 20's-- AFT. NM's enacted equality legislation, enacted the Kyoto standards, it's impressive. I really like Governor's as Presidential candidates, they have accomplishments they can point to, and Richardson has foreign experience as well. He was very well recieved by this audience, with multiple standing ovations, and Richardson probably moved up a few nothes in their views. Richardson believes in a "reconciliation" effort in Iraq, and calls for a deadline by the end of this year for the US to be out of Iraq.
Mike Gravel: Gravel will be the voice of the pissed-off Democrats, saying about the Oct 2002 vote, "political calculations trumped morality" and "anyone who voted for the war... is not qualified to hold the office of the Presidency." In short, Gravel will not give Edwards, Biden, Dodd, Clinton any breathing room. As a Senator, he says, "I spoke truth to power... and as a result Nixon sued me." Gravel is coming back from being on the Senate floor during the Vietnam war, and as he stood up then to end the war,he now will be the thorn in the side of those "that did nothing" when they were in office, as a Democratic majority in the Senate, and allowed it to happen. "And we all know, 'vital interest' is a code word for oil." With Gravel in the race, there's really no need for the vanity candidacy of Kucinich. Gravel is an anti-war candidate that speaks well and carries a stick. "Power to the People" is the song and "Let the People Decide" the slogan of Gravel.
California and Illinois (and Barack Obama for that matter) be damned, Colorado is thinking of joining the Western Primary. Dan Slater of the Colorado party is in DC for the winter DNC meeting and gives us this update:
With the exception of four states (IA, NV, NH, and SC), the DNC’s rules do not allow any states to hold their primaries or caucuses before February 5. However, there is a concentrated effort to hold the contest in several Western states on that day — meaning a lot more attention by the candidates to those states. The State Party officers have been in discussions for a while about whether to work with the Legislature to move our caucus up to Feb. 5, joining the other Western states that are doing so. We met with academics, we talked with legislators and other political leaders, and we asked for the input of the county chairs that are the linchpin to the caucus process.
The response was overwhelming. As reported in the Rocky this morning, the Party is now working with the Legislature to make the change from a March caucus to a February 5 caucus. In response to some concerns heard in our process, we’re asking that the move from March to February only take place in Presidential years.
Howard Dean is crediting Gary Hart with pushing him to choose Denver for the 2008 Convention. From the Denver Post:
For nearly 25 years, Gary Hart has pushed Democrats to switch their political focus from regaining the South to winning the West. Perhaps, then, it's fitting that the former senator received some of the credit for the Democratic National Convention's landing in Denver.
Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Hart's paper on how the Democrats might go about capturing the West - and therefore the White House - made a difference in choosing Denver over New York. "I have long believed that the essence of a Democratic victory goes through the West," Dean said. "If we are going to have a national party, we are going to have to have Westerners to vote Democratic again on a reliable basis."
Cue Gary Hart:
"This is structural change. It could influence the presidential pick," Hart said Thursday. "Every candidate in both parties will have to address Western issues, which aren't race and cultural. They are resource issues, like energy development and property rights." ...
Hart's 10-point political strategy begins with advising Democrats to condemn a recent Supreme Court decision that makes it easier for governments to take private property for public purposes and ends with suggesting candidates talk about principles - "integrity, honor, courage, accountability" - instead of values, which tend to be associated with the religious right.
Thank you, Senator Hart.
Newly elected Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado issued a press release following DNC Chair Howard Dean's announcement that Denver will play host to the 2008 Democratic National Convention:
OFFICE OF GOV. BILL RITTER, JR.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
THURSDAY, JAN. 11, 2007
Evan Dreyer, 720-350-8370
GOV. RITTER PRAISES EFFORTS TO SECURE 2008 CONVENTION
Gov. Bill Ritter today praised the hard work of many people to secure Denver’s bid for the 2008 Democratic National Committee.
“The convention will have a significant economic impact not just on Denver, but it will have a ripple effect across the entire state and the West,” Ritter said. “This will be great for Denver and great for Colorado.”
Ritter said Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and the entire host committee led by Elbra Wedgeworth deserve much credit for their tenacity and commitment.
“A major reason we were able to compete against a city like New York and ultimately win this convention is because Denver made important investments in infrastructure,” Ritter said. “We have the hotels, restaurants, convention space and other facilities to accommodate events like this. This puts us on the national stage and the world stage.”
Courtesy of Heath Haussamen, here is Governor Richardson's statement on the selection of Denver as the site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
“This isn’t just a win forToday's announcement by DNC Chair Howard Dean, coupled with the decision to move the Nevada caucuses to the front, only boosts Governor Richardson's potential Presidential campaign.
Denverand , but for the whole mountain west. From Colorado Montanato , the west is the most fertile ground for Democrats. The New Mexico convention in 2008 will only further these efforts.” Denver
Al Eisele writes in the Huffington Post:
With Republicans trying to gain a foothold in the Democratic stronghold of Minnesota, Democrats are crazy if they don't try to break out of their East Coast-Midwest-Southern mindset by making inroads in the West. After all, Colorado just elected a Democratic governor, and there are eight other Democratic governors from Kansas to Oregon, including a likely presidential candidate, New Mexico's Bill Richardson. And the new Speaker of the House is from California and the new Senate majority leader is from Nevada.
Sure, Democrats held their 1984 convention in San Francisco and their 2000 convention in Los Angeles, but look where it got them -- Fritz Mondale, who lost every state but his own, and Al Gore, who couldn't even carry his own home state. In fact, Democrats haven't won with a candidate who was nominated in a city west of the Mississippi since they picked John F. Kennedy in Los Angeles in 1960.
As the brothers Salazar of Colorado, Sen. Ken and Rep. John, argue, energy sources are key to many of America's most pressing problems, including freeing us from the stranglehold of Middle Eastern oil imports. Colorado, with its vast oil shale deposits, and the West with its limitless coal deposits and other alternative energy sources, is a good place to position the party for the future.
So let's hear it for Denver. It may be a cow town, but if Democrats want to make the west a battleground in 2008, they better be ready to ride in the rodeo.
This is the nut of the issue, geography matters. Are we the party from New York or the party from the West? That's what people who are fighting for a Denver convention are saying, that we've been too long a party of the Northeast.