50 State Strategy: Spotlight on Utah
by Tim Tagaris, Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 01:15:12 PM EDT
Ohio, Ohio, Ohio! Florida, Florida, Florida! Utah? Utah? Utah!
The fifty state strategy is more than the boom-and-bust operation that sets up shop several months out of every four years in the same swing states courted during presidential elections. It's about electing Democrats from the top of the ticket all the way to the bottom in those very swing states, but also places Democrats have not competed in decades like Alabama, Idaho, and Utah. Yes, Utah.
(Remember to sign-up and participate in the nationwide canvass April 29.)
2005 has been a year of Democratic revival in the land of Orrin Hatch. At the top of the ticket, Pete Ashdown is running against Hatch and has waged a spirited campaign focused on organization, both online and off. But the good news doesn't stop there... In fact, the news gets better as we start to discuss the impact of the Utah Democratic Party in conjunction with the organizers paid for by the Democratic National Committee.
The 2006 election cycle marks the best candidate recruitment for the state party in over fifteen years. There are more Democratic candidates running and more races filled than at any point during that time period. And it's not only life-long Democrats stepping up to the plate and challenging entrenched Republican incumbents, there are a total of six, yes six, registered Republican delegates who decided the Grand Old Party has lost touch with mainstream values in Utah and have switched sides to run as Democrats. In a conversation I had with the Utah Democratic Party's Communications Director, Jeff Bell, he told me that it's been the work of the state's new organizers, along with the party, that has resulted in a smooth candidate recruitment process. Bell said that there is something different about 2006. In the past, it was duty of the party to go out and recruit people to fill as many seats as possible. This year, people are coming to the state party with the realization that it's time for change, and they want to step up and be a part of that change.
But it doesn't stop with candidate recruitment. Bell also shared a story about the statewide caucus that took place late last year. He estimates that Utah County alone, 130 Democrats turned out to participate in the process -- that's compared to a little more than a dozen that showed up the year before. Indeed, because of the great work by the state party, the trend began even before the first organizer stepped foot inside Utah. Bell shared with me some of the 2004 election numbers that showed the best Democratic turnout in decades. There is reason for optimism in places like Utah. Here are some more numbers from inside the state:
- Democrats have filed in all State Senate races
- Democrats are offering challenges to 10 State House races that went unopposed in 2004
- Davis and Washington County have filed candidates in all state legislative races. The last time that happened was 1998.
Your investment in the fifty state strategy, and the committment of the state parties along with the new DNC-hired organizers is getting the job done.