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Moving Forward with a New Democratic Party of Virginia Chair

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I haven’t yet spoken with either of the candidates for DPVA Chair. but here are some thoughts on the challenges the new Chair will face.

  • Leadership – our Chair should be the public face of Virginia Democrats.  This is especially true in the absence of a Democratic Governor, Lt. Gov or AG.  He or she will have to work with elected officials (past and present) and project a positive image for the party.  We need someone who is experienced, articulate, and can convey a coherent message.
  • Candidate recruitment – This upcoming year’s elections (2011) include the battle for control of the State Senate, our efforts to improve our numbers in the House (both against the backdrop of redistricting) and local races.  The Chair should spearhead the effort to recruit and support solid candidates.  (Not every candidate gets equal resources, but I have always supporting running good candidates for all offices.)
  • Fundraising – we can’t be competitive, run strong candidates, and do the necessary party building without raising boatloads of money – focusing on small donors, coordinating party committee fundraising, as well as the usual suspects.
  • Local Party Building – strengthen local committees with support and training for voter identification, GOTV, fundraising, and other year round activities. 
  • State Central Committee – we should improve internal communications, give members a greater voice in party affairs, and reinvent the quarterly meeting concept.
  • Field organization – I have always been a strong supporter of the 50 state strategy and the field staff it brought to Virginia – whether DNC/State/Local or a combination thereof, we need to put those folks back out in the field.
  • Continue the OFA experiment – It’s been two years, and I am still not entirely sure how this is supposed to work, but we need to use the DNC/OFA resources as best we can.
  • Improve our technology – the new website is a good step and there is more that can be done.
  •  Outreach – Vice Chair Sen. McEachin and party staff are doing a great job with new caucus, constituency, and outreach programs – we need to continue and build on these efforts and make sure they are integrated at all levels of the party.
  • Message – Virginia Democrats appear to have lost our ability to connect with the voters over the past two years – we need to revive the broad appeal to suburban (Kaine 2005), rural (Warner 2001), and urban voters that brought us victories and the people of Virginia good government. 
  • Communications – the recent hiring of a communications director is a major step – once we formulate the message, we need to get it out, through all media.

Thanks to Chairman Cranwell – one of the true statesmen of Virginia’s recent history and the man who presided over the Virginia Democratic Presidential victory.
For some prior thoughts see Jan 2010 and Jan 2009.