Monday, May 4, 2009

Celebrating Gains in Utah County

Daily Herald, on the Utah County Democrats convention:

Democrats made significant fundraising gains in Utah Valley in 2008 and garnered thousands of new votes compared to other years, but they failed to actually win a single seat. Building on those gains was the theme on Saturday.

"We have to celebrate our gains," said state party chair Wayne Holland. "We have made two consecutive gains in two election cycles."

Utah County Democrats raised $80,000 in 2008, compared to $7,000 in 2006, said Richard Davis, county party chair.

"The Republicans, however, raised $150,000," he said. "We were outspent two-to-one. We have a lot of ground to cover."

In 2006, there were fewer than 100 donors to the party. In 2008, that number jumped to more than 1,300, he said.

Now, local Dems must build on the momentum by recruiting and training candidates, raising money and volunteering to help candidates, Davis said.

"Please volunteer," he said. "We really need your help."

We all need to take a good long look at what Utah County is doing right. And contrast, again, the message being spread in the Herald article with this one:

Holland cautions that new candidates should view their maiden run for office as an apprenticeship.

Van Wagoner agrees.

Baby steps, basically. And it has more than an ounce of truth to it, admittedly. But my question for Holland and Van Wagoner remains: do your words, each and every time you speak, help build county parties, and draw out volunteers, and are we directing enough effort in that direction? Are we taking the steps, using the methods preferred by activists, political junkies, soccer moms and busy professionals to (stealing the words of a certain community organizer) engage and activate? While we pour so much effort into attracting conservative voters and candidates, are we perhaps ignoring wasted skills among the already convinced? At several conventions I've heard the popularity of Becker and Corroon touted as example of "the future." But incremental successes like what happened in Utah County will bring us more like Becker. What's happening in Utah County energizes potential volunteers and coalitions much more than chanting "Matheson, Becker, Corroon" repeatedly could ever achieve.

For the sake of convenient oversimplification in explanation, I think what Utah County did that isn't happening as much elsewhere is organize creatively. And it should be happening as much in 2009 as in 2008 and 2010 in every county. When does "we lack the resources" become less of an explanation and more of a perpetuation? What Utah County has achieved is proof enough the same organization can be built in every county in the state, and I believe that is where the state party should be focusing more.

We have the tools and the opportunity and the county parties to back it, but in most areas, we've yet to take that first baby step, or lack the organization and volunteer support to make it happen, and we've done that to ourselves.

Kudos to Utah County for setting the bar a little higher.

1 comment:

  1. Richard Davis, the Utah County Chair, is supporting Holland for reelection.