One of the most important groups within the Democratic National Committee is the Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC), which consists of each state’s party chair, first vice chair, and executive director. The ASDC meets four times a year and just concluded its winter meeting here in Las Vegas. Over the past three days, the ASDC presented speeches, panels, and workshops providing practical information and guidance on issues including state party budgeting, state party fundraising (including for the national convention), social media, party administration, DNC and state party constituency efforts, national convention best practices, DNC technology, state party campaign structure, voter protection efforts, and updates on President Obama’s campaign and the national convention. The DPVA was well represented by VC Gaylene Kanoyton and ED Dave Mills, and I attended with DNC members Mame Reiley, Doris Crouse-May and Susan Swecker, and Sen. Louise Lucas. Some highlight of the sessions I attended:
- DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz spoke to the group about reelecting President Obama and urged everyone to get on twitter (She’s @DWStweets, I’m @DemRulz).
- DNC Office of the Executive Director Senior Advisor (Virginia’s own) Larry Roberts reported on increased funding for the state partnership program which provides monthly payments to each state party to be used to advance core functions that relate to DNC activities, including communications, technology, and diversity. This will free up state parties to use their funds for other activities. The DNC also has been making payments on its loan/grant program for state parties with special needs.
- Steve Walker (DNC Deputy National Political Director) spoke about running on President Obama’s record (“What Change Means”), bracketing GOP candidates (drawing distinctions between Obama and the GOP through earned media), and increased collaboration and coordination among the President Obama’s Reelection Campaign, the DNC, and state parties.
- DNC Voter Protection Counsel and Director Will Crossley and Deputy Hannah Fried discussed the DNC Voter Protection activities and their recent Report. The effort includes fighting restrictive legislation, educating voters re compliance (e.g., bring your photo ID), and having the lawyer network available to respond quickly to GOP suppression efforts (e.g. Ehrlich’s campaign in MD).
- Larry also introduced the DNC’s first Chief Diversity Officer, Greg Hinton, who will focus the party on achieving diversity in staff and contracting activities.
DNC Staff Patrick Gaspard (Executive Director), Larry Roberts (Senior Advisor), Jeffrey Lerner (National Political Director), Patrice Taylor (Party Affairs & Delegate Selection), and ASDC Chair Ray Buckley answered questions about organizing and winning in 2012 (see photo).
- There was an interesting discussion about the role of “coordinated campaigns” – one state party director observed that the concept was used pre-McCain-Fiengold, but no longer has the same relevance. Parties do serve essential financial functions in operations/compliance; add value to campaigns (e.g. field efforts); facilitate communications and problem solving among campaigns, party organizations, and outside groups; and ensure year-round efforts, including keeping the party going after the elections and campaigns are over.
- Patrice Taylor reported that 41 states have final delegate selection plans and the remainder are being finalized. The staff is putting together materials re implementation of the affirmative action/outreach efforts that are called for in the plans. (Virginia has provided its materials).