Open letter to the DFL State Central Committee


Now that the 2010 election is over … erm … except for the recount in the Governor’s race, we need to consider who is going to be the next Chair of the Democratic Farmer Labor party.  We just got whupped.  There’s no denying it.  We need a new direction with a comprehensive communications strategy that includes social media.  We’ve got a huge debt from the 2010 campaign.  And this national Republican tsunami exposed many other problems.

We need a party chair who can address these problems.

There have been a couple of times in my life where I got a real beat down (figuratively not literally) and I used these hard times as opportunities to reevaluate what I’m doing, how I’m doing it and sometimes even why.  I learned some hard lessons and while I still make plenty of mistakes, they’re new mistakes.  Not the same old ones.

There are a number of talented people who care about the DFL who over the coming months will be making the case about how they can lead us to new victories.

Let’s start with the easy one: Money

We’re nearly $500,000 in debt.  The next Chair will need to quickly pay down our debts so we can start building for 2012.

In addition, the party has been pretty broke for the last few years.  The new Chair will need to have a plan to raise the money so that, for example, candidates only need to make a token contribution to get access to the database.

Candidate Recruitment

The new chair needs to work at finding strong candidates and support them better.  As a blogger I spoke to a lot of candidates as well as do many of my cohorts here at MPP.  Many candidates speak of feeling abandoned.  They feel like they get little to no support and help from the DFL.

Communications Strategy

Communications is no longer just holding a press conference, handing out print-outs to attending media and emailing everyone else.  The DFL needs a Party Chair with a comprehensive strategy to tie blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube together.

If we want to control messaging for races up and down the ticket, we need to control what people see about our candidates and their opponents on the search engines.

Imagine a blog interview about a State House candidate that DFL staffers share on their Facebook and retweet on Twitter.  Imagine a load of other DFL candidates doing the same thing.  Imagine supporters of all these candidates also doing the same thing.

Imagine the same thing done for a great letter to the editor or guest commentary piece at a newspaper.

YouTube is the second highest searched site after Google.  Imagine if we all did the same thing for a video of a candidate talking about an issue.  The video would go viral.

Imagine coordinated messaging.  Imagine if the statewide and congressional candidates pushed messages and memes that the down-ballot candidates could pick up on.

Imagine using this comprehensive communications strategy as a way to recruit volunteers for events.  Not just for the statewide or high profile races, but for the outstate State House desperately in need of volunteers?

Database and Information Collection

Our GOTV effort is only as good as our data.  How can we improve our data collection and our database?  If we are not constantly updating, upgrading and improving our database, we run the risk of ossifying.  The last thing we want is to be stuck with a out-dated user interface and bad data.

The next Chair needs a strategy for constantly improving our database.

Team Effort

All DFL candidates need to feel that there is a team supporting them.  If the party isn’t deeply in debt, they could give more to their candidates.  If the party wasn’t broke, they could hire more organizers to help candidates.

Candidates need to have a party that is going after their opponent’s records and beliefs for them.  They need bloggers promoting them and calling out their opponents.  A comprehensive communications strategy would go a long way towards making candidates feel like the endorsement which they often fought long and hard to win actually meant something.

We also need to seriously rethink the Coordinated Campaign.  The joke amongst many of the down-ballot DFL candidates I speak to is that the Coordinated Campaign is neither coordinated nor a campaign.  With the CC, chaos reigns.  The next Party Chair should have a plan to improve or revamp it.