Netroots Power, Local Races, Young Candidates

I have great admiration for the analytical and strategic analysis that populates this site, and for that reason, I solicit your counsel on a new project.  The aim of the project, DemBench.org, is simple:  to channel a portion of the incredible netroots energy and resources into the small state and local candidacies of the next generation of Democrats.
Like a lot of people, I became a netroots convert in 2004.  As online activism propelled Howard Dean to the forefront of the primary field, I saw how the nationwide network of progressives was reshaping American democracy.  For the first time in U.S. history, political giving was a democratic act: a proxy for votes, and not just the province of those with a financial stake in government action.  I think this phenomenon is the most significant political change in decades, and we are still early in its evolution.

In my view, we are seeing netroots activism infiltrate deeper into politics.  At the first stage, it took over the biggest race of all, the Presidential campaign.  Next, it has moved into critical, high-profile federal races.  With the leadership of the guys at MyDD, Kos, SwingState, ActBlue and others, the Hackett race became a watershed event.

I think that netroots progressives can make a huge difference by also looking at the state and local level.  I created  DemBench LLC as a 527 that would identify promising young Democrats and showcase them for the online progressive community for support.  With just a fraction of the support that Hackett and other federal candidates have received, we could be putting these people on the map.  $10K is an entry fee at the federal level, but it's a lifeline in a City Council race.  The netroots community could be the equalizer that allows young progressives to be competitive with older, more entrenched candidates.

That's the vision and the idea.  But like any good online project, it will be much better with community input and involvement.  I'd love your thoughts on how to get from here to there -- what we need to offer the netroots community, what the pitfalls are, and how to build credibility and support among the target audience, so as to provide the maximum boost to our stable of young pols.

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Comments

7 Comments

it would help
if you gave your biograghies...as in who are you.
by Parker 2005-09-08 10:00AM | 0 recs
We want
to keep the focus on the candidates rather than ourselves.  Why are bios of us important?  Just to see who is making the judgment calls?
by billfrick 2005-09-08 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: We want
Just to see who is making the judgment calls?

Uh... yeah. That is obvious.

by Parker 2005-09-08 11:37AM | 0 recs
The suggestions come from the netroots community
so I think it is erroneous to focus so much on the project sponsors.  There are mechanisms to suggest other candidates and discuss whether those profiled belong there.  

This is meant to be a democratic exercise, rather than a unilateral process.

by billfrick 2005-09-08 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: The suggestions come from the netroots communi
The suggestions come from the netroots community...

  • Where?
  • When?
  • How?

I think it is erroneous to focus so much on the project sponsors

No, I think it is the most sensible thing an educated voter can do and should be mandatory.

by Parker 2005-09-08 01:14PM | 0 recs
the first thing i did...
was to go to the page for my state, http://www.dembench.org/states/mass.php

and i found that it had none of the hot prospects at the city council level.  in boston, cambridge, and somerville alone there are scores of bona fide hot progressive prospects in city council and school committe: Felix Arroyo, Sam Yoon, Gibran Riviera, Jesse Gordon, Sam Seidel, Denise Simmons, Rebekah Gewirtz, Marty Martinez, Herby Duverne.  all are first-term or challenger candidates with extremely good street cred among progressives.  but where are they on this page?  i couldn't find them.

so then i thought, aha, maybe i should add one.  i went to refer a candidate and referred a candidate (Jesse Gordon).  went back to the MA page.  nada.  not even an indication that there was a candidate who had been referred but not yet posted.

all of this is a long way of saying, who made it on to this page (http://www.dembench.org/states/mass.php)?  what was the criteria?  who is waiting to be promoted, and what can i do to help them get on the page?  some simple text to explain the process, right on the MA page, would go a long way.  another thing that would help tremendously is if outside visitors could vote for candidates they wanted to be listed as "endorsed" candidates.  (the referral of gordon was sincere by the way.  he's certainly a rising star in cambridge progressive politics, and he has a real shot at winning this year.)

another thing that would help - further localization.  in other words, i don't want the page for just MA, i want the page for Eastern MA, or even better, the page for Boston, the page for Cambridge, etc.  as I mentioned, Cambridge has three hot prospects at the city council level; i'd like to see them by themselves, without cluttering up the page with candidates from central or western ma.  i'm sure my fellow users from western or central ma would agree.

finally, it would be nice if we could view hte candidates not just by geographic region, but by office sought as well.  for example, who are the hot progressive prospects in the MA state senate?  

overall, a great effort.  a bit more oomph along these lines would go a long way.

by myddaholic 2005-09-08 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: the first thing i did...
Thanks for this!
These are all great ideas.  The resources for this are limited so far, which is why we don't have all the features you suggest. (We're running on volunteer power!)

Thanks for the names from Cambridge - this is the kind of information we need from folks that are active at the local level.

Again, these are great ideas and are very much appreciated.  The idea to list folks by office sought is a very good one and may be relatively easy to achieve technically.  Thanks for the support!

by billfrick 2005-09-08 12:26PM | 0 recs

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