Step One: Build a Permanent California Field Team
The strategy of just parachuting operatives and paid consultants into a district a few months before an election hasn’t worked. It will never work.
We have to be in our red and purple communities for all 24 months of the election cycle, creating collaborations today that demonstrate our commitment to what’s important to people in their own lives. That’s how we turn people into voters. It’s how we get past the Party ID politics in these areas and get to winning at the ballot box.
Immediately after my election in May, we will be recruiting and hiring local organizers throughout the state, with a major focus on Republican controlled Congressional and Assembly districts. Organizing around people’s own needs like healthcare or affordable housing in 2017 will give us the credibility to talk to them about their vote in 2018.
Step Two: Lead through Coordination
The organizing landscape is changing at lightning speed. Established organizations like state parties are racing to catch up with organic and decentralized groups like Indivisible, Brand New Congress, Swing Left, and Our Revolution.
Rather than be threatened by these efforts or dismissive of their longevity, we need to lead with open mindedness, leverage their energy and enthusiasm, and find common ground. The CDP must bring coordination, organizational resources and discipline to multifaceted, multi-networked, ground-up organizing.
We will crash and burn if we try to be the sole pilot of one massive airplane; instead, our CDP needs to play the role of air traffic controllers – with our field team working on the ground to coordinate the aligned interest of all groups, new and old
Step Three: Empower the County Central Committees
Since the County Central Committees have limited resources, as Chair, I will ensure that CDP helps to minimize operational costs by providing professional services like social media training and graphic design, as well as coordinate professional treasurer contacts. County Central Committee money should go to organizing, not overhead.
Starting in June, the CDP will also be providing regular and steady messaging, content and social media training for all delegates, similar to the Dropbox program we have now for County Chairs. Yes, we have wonderfully dedicated volunteers who do their best for their own County Central Committees – but the CDP can do more in the way of providing and channeling content and messaging assistance, and using our larger platform to amplify what our central committees and local clubs are doing on the ground.
Since our county and Assembly District activists live at ground zero for field organizing, we want to be sure that we have robust, comprehensible, and fully staffed MOE training and support. We know you work outside of business hours, so let’s make sure you have the support you need when you’re organizing, instead of when you’re at your day jobs.
Step Four: Shift and Deploy Resources
Alameda and other deep blue counties do a phenomenal job of driving out the vote, which is critical for statewide ballot measures when counties like Los Angeles continue to have declining voter turnout.
But when it comes to organizing, we must start thinking bigger, better and bolder – which means mobilizing our central committees in deep blue counties to adopt districts where we can flip seats.
This work will be led by the field teams in our contested districts. We don’t want to send in operatives who act as commanders; we want to be sure the leadership, the ideas and the messaging comes from the people who are the walking shoes on the ground. To believe that someone in Washington, DC or upstate New York has a better message than someone in Red Bluff or Visalia is short-sighted and self-defeating.
Step Five: Play the Long Game
Unless we want a Republican-controlled Congress until 2032 – no, that’s not a typo – we must begin our work today – and much of that work is outside of California.
We have 21 months until we can wrestle control of Congress from Republican hands – and we have to win majorities and gubernatorial seats by 2020 so that we are positioned to redraw districts in 2021 after the 2020 census. To do this, we cannot wall off California or entertain ridiculous notions like Cal-exit. We need a big blue wave, not a wall.
As Chair, I will lead the CDP to coordinate with other state parties on key State House and Congressional races, sending campaign resources, including help with local canvassers, to help elect progressive Democratic state legislators in districts we need to win in order to re-draw the Congressional District maps in 2021.
Step Six: Build the Bench
In our red and purple districts, we need to think long-term. This means we need to invest in progressive, community rooted candidates at the local level. We can’t just wait until races get to the state level to care about these areas. If we’re ever to win our reddest districts, we need candidates who the community knows and trusts – seeing beyond Party ID.
Candidates need training; they need education; they need a network of supporters, volunteers, donors, and professional services – all things the CDP can help with.
The Party needs to be investing in candidates at the local level – and that means encouraging many people to run – with particular attention to cultivating and recruiting women, people of color, millennials, and other underrepresented groups.
Step Seven: Invest in Innovation
California is the world’s leader in technology and innovation. From the border in San Diego through Northern California, some of the greatest minds are working on smarter, easier, more targeted ways for us to connect with core audiences.
Up and down the state, I’ve met talented professionals asking how promote progressive policies, assist us with our efforts to stop Trump, and make a difference in our communities. There is a wellspring of energy, talent and innovation just waiting to be engaged. As Chair, I plan to take them up on their offers to help.
Connecting with voters and supporters should be a swipe away. The computing power in our pocket can turn anyone into a community organizer. The CDP should be collaborating with our friends in tech and building tools that can be used anywhere by anyone who wants to organize and promote our Party’s progressive values.