This Saturday in Newnan, Georgia, the State Democratic Committee will gather to elect a new Chairman. This person will immediately become not just the head of the state party, but the highest statewide elected Democrat. He will be responsible for the party’s message and their ability to effectively run campaigns, through financial backing, research support and the like.
Whenever one group of people go unchallenged in politics, as the Republican party often is, especially between Gubernatorial elections, the quality of governing suffers. We’ve seen a good amount of that recently and that the only challenge to the current Governor appears to come from within his own party is evidence of this. The adversarial relationship between the parties is the only way in our current system that we can develop clear, pragmatic policies that move Georgia forward. Iron sharpens iron, but without that conflict the ruling party becomes dull, lazy, and oftentimes, corrupt.
So even if you don’t believe in the ideals of the Democratic party, or would even consider voting for a Democrat, you should be concerned about the health of the Democratic Party, because a strong Democratic Party is integral to good government. For Democrats though, the stakes are much higher. There are demographic shifts in place that could allow Democrats to take a voting majority of the state, but that requires a competing message to attract such voters, as well as registration campaigns and research. But before we get carried away about the Demographic Party of Georgia, let’s talk about what the chair does and who would be best for it.
Here’s the playbook I wrote up a couple months ago upon the resignation of the previous chair, Mike Berlon. That’s only one method for achieving the goals of the party Chair, but it is useful for distilling the essence of the job: 1) raising money and 2) Messaging, and to determine who and what you are messaging, 3) DATA gathering and distribution. The OFA organization has done 3) and done it in Georgia. To get that level of targeting, you’ll need experience and systems that are easiest to get from the DNC and OFA. So that relationship must be strengthened and fixed, really. It suffered much harm during the previous administration.
So, first up RJ Hadley. He has a five point plan to fix the party which can be found here. For fundraising it mentions “multi-prong” which i am always in favor of, but no details beyond that. It says there will be updates, but none have yet appeared, but he’s got 48 hours until the election so there’s still time. Let’s check the disclosure from his last race. Total raised? $3,770. Next.
He is young and energetic, though, and has been going door to door outside the Metro. He has good support among his base in the city as well, so he could do surprisingly well on the first ballot. The general consensus is that he is likable and will do big things, but he isn’t ready for this job.
Former House Minority Leader DuBose Porter has a rural following. He represented Dublin and its curtilage in the House for many years. He has a long track record of service to Democrats and has a relationship with almost every eligible voter (state committee members plus certain appointed and elected officials, about 300 in all). In terms of messaging, DuBose is a reliable voice for the idea that the Democratic Party can be great again. That said, the last time he did anything statewide, that message met with limited success. He garnered 4.5% of the vote. His candidacy for Governor in 2010 is helpful in testing fundraising abiity. Let’s check out his disclosure from that period. $476,019. As Jon Lovitz once said, “well that would be more, wouldn’t it?” At least more than Hadley. DuBose raised much of that money early, before Roy Barnes announced. Barnes raised about 9 million for the race (including the general). Barnes’ fundraising totals are relevant, both because they show a potential for Georgia Democratic giving, and a lead on who needs to be involved for donors to be willing to invest. So who is Barnes supporting?
Doug Stoner. Doug last ran unsuccessfully in 2012 in his Senate reëlect. He was redistricted into a tough race and beat the district’s R slant, but still lost with 48% of the vote. He raised 260k in that contest, which is pretty good seeing that contribution limits are half of that of the Gubernatorial. If you combine that with the outside spending in that race, his total probably approaches 700k. Those numbers were the matter of some debate on Blog for Democracy and in a Politifact column this week. But those totals are only relevant if they are indicative of what money can be raised for the DPG. So the question isn’t what have they raised, but what can they raise. Neither Doug nor DuBose are the champions of Democratic fundraising, that’s all Barnes and Kasim Reed, who is at 4.9m raised. Both of whom are supporting Stoner. It would seem with 260k raised in a State Senate race, and the support of the only two Democrats who have raised large amount of money in Georgia, that he’d be your guy if finance were your thing.
But let’s talk Data. Data collection and use for the modern Democratic campaign belongs both in reputation and actuality to Organizing for America, the Obama political group whose voter outreach efforts were key to his win. They are also key to Georgia’s Democratic resurgence, and OFA and the DNC hold that key. And who is the DNC head? Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who, not so coincidentally, was in Georgia this week. She chose to take a meeting with one candidate for DPG Chair: Doug Stoner. Sometimes it is all about who you know.
So the metrics of Fundraising eliminate Hadley, and the metrics of data eliminate Porter, all we have left is Doug Stoner. Which is fine by me and I’m excited to cast my vote for him on Saturday. So while all of you are enjoying backyard grilling and time with your family, rest assured I will be in Newnan looking out for Georgia’s future by voting for Doug Stoner.