By Kevin Thurman
Since I wrote my guest post last week there have been a number of developments in the chair’s race and I am not expert in the machinations of the Florida Democratic Party’s election system for chair — but I am more fascinated by the insane false choices that seem to be put forth by leaders, columnists, and activists over the past few days.
Paul Fleming even wrote an entire column about all of these false choice claiming the FDP is the “the longest-running soap opera in the Sunshine State.” Sure he gave lip service to the RPOF that has a former chairman under indictment, big spending Amex cards, just badly lost the last election — but says he’s going to focus on us anyway.
What I find funny is that he fails to mention that the “soap-opera” was the organization that exposed all of that thanks to Tampa Democrat Susan Smith, and staff at the FDP like Scott Arceneaux and Eric Jotkoff.
These is the first of series of false choices that he and many others say Democrats are fighting over — which everyone need to just stop. Here’s the four worst I’ve identified.
Money vs Organizing
For some reason thinking in Florida hasn’t grown to meet the 21st century reality that good organizing and good fundraising go hand in hand. Some people have argued that financial resources are the first priority to win in 2014, other have argued that grassroots organizing is the key to winning in 2014. Not only are they both vital to winning as we have seen in the Presidential election in Florida and in races across the country — but they feed off each other.
Since the Obama ’08 campaign moderns campaigns don’t make that choice. It’s easier for Presidential campaigns to do this, but it is how technologically driven campaigning works. Whether it’s turning swag purchases into donations so you can build your donor base at rallies or using successful organizing to impress big dollar donors — these two issues work together.
I remember when i was working for Hillary in 2008 I was asked to present to senior staff an understanding of why Obama out-raised us in the first quarter of 2007.They all assumed it was just the small dollar donations (specifically, incorrectly indetifying the My. BarackObama.com as a major donation driver) — but they later learned that we got beat on high and low dollar donations. Obama’s momentum and grassroots campaign (with a lot of free media) had leapfrogged a generation of traditional high dollar fundraising contacts. The whole fundraising game has changed — there is no choice between organizing and fundraising.
I don’t even have to just point to Obama, there is a Florida politician who did this very well: Marco Rubio. Rubio understood this and used his grassroots machine to create momentum, and used the momentum to raise money, and the money to invest in gaining more momentum to eventually out-raise his opponents when no one expected him to. His main opponent’s campaign, Charlie Crist, was so caught off guard by this success he left the primary before it was over.
I think both Alan Clendenin and Allison Tant likely understand this, but they have each been portrayed as being on once side of the flase choice between organizing and fundraising. We don’t need one or the other we need both. That means pouring what money we can into organizing so we can expand the donor base and raise money (some versions phrase exists in both of their plans — which is why we’ve already won something from this race).
No divided choice here: No matter who becomes chair I hope both Tant and Clendenin will work together to make sure the FDP embraces this kind of 21st century political reality.