The Case for Frost
by DemDog, Tue Jan 25, 2005 at 05:31:32 AM EST
So you want the case for Frost:
Here is a man who shares our core Democratic values*, understands how to organize and win*, and is a phenomenal fundraiser**. And as a REFORMER, Martin Frost is the ONLY individual in this race with a record of taking the reigns of a moribund political operation (the post-1994 elections DCCC), turning it on its head, and guiding it to clear and decisive victories over the course of two election cycles.
Martin Frost is our best ally--our best leader--and the only choice for DNC Chair should we hope to secure a base of voters greater than that now enjoyed by the Republican Party.
There was a wonderful, if upsetting, article in the New York Times Magazine back in December. It focused on the Presidential race in Ohio and the work ACT and MoveOn performed. The article is nothing but laudatory of their efforts; indeed, they not only met but exceeded all of their vote goals in the state. So why, then, did we lose--not only Ohio, but the country?
We lost because our base is not as large as the Republican base. Turnout no longer wins elections for Democrats. Every model created by political consultants over the last 25 years has to be tossed out the window.
So what does this mean? It means we have to start converting voters. We need to take moderate Republicans--and by this I mean independents who have voted Republican in the last few elections--and make them feel comfortable voting for a Democrat.
Martin Frost, without ever sacrificing his Democratic credentials (see below), has been doing this for nearly 30 years. No he didn't win in 2004 (no Democrat can win the Texas 32nd as it is currently drawn, sadly), but there is a reason he ran 8 points ahead of Kerry--he knows how to organize, he knows how to campaign, and he knows how to talk Democratic issues with people inside AS WELL AS outside the Democratic base. In short, he is a moderate voice with a liberal agenda.
[Now I know someone is just gearing up to write some misinformed diatribe about a tv commercial, but I can't fathom how anyone who actually watched the ads, saw the debates, read the papers, or even vaguely understood the issues at hand honestly thought Martin Frost "supported" George Bush. One vote? Yes. And why did he highlight it? Because it helped eludicate just how much of a far-right nutjob his opponent (Pete Sessions) actually was. You may not like this kind of politics, but its smart strategy. Noting that Pete Sessions was more extreme than, say, Dennis Kucinich wouldn't work. Everyone knows that, and in uber-Republican North Dallas they think that's fine. But if you make it clear that Pete Sessions is more extreme--and in this case dangerously more extreme--than George Bush (in he and Dick Cheney's old neighborhood), that's saying a lot. And it gets people's attention. That's how you win races: you exploit your opponents weaknesses within the context of your playing field.]
Anyhow, I digress. Martin Frost's biggest campaign issues were child safety (he wrote the Amber Hagerman Child Protection Act), clean air (boy I hope we all like that here), and an opposition to the National Sales Tax (which Frost--and all us us, I hope--viewed as a REGRESSIVE tax that harmed those who could least afford it).
Two of those issues are core Democratic principles: we believe we are stewards of our environment and have an obligation to protect it for future generations, and we believe that a progressive income tax allows us to live in a fair and just society. The third issue (first on my list), is a non-partisan issue--but Frost was able to speak authoritatively on it, and at a time when Democrats are losing millions of married women with children to Republicans it is important to be able to do so. Something out there is giving people the impression that Democrats and Democratic values are antithetical to creating a safe and secure environment in which to raise a child--especially in vast middle of the country where we are losing. This is but one example of how Frost can--and will--develop a strategy to speak to and appeal to marginal Republicans just looking for a reason to vote Democratic.
So enough on issues. He is a Democrat. A strong one. The assaults on his Democratic credentials (DINO, Republican-lie, etc) are disgusting, and they stem from either a) a lack of knowledge by the writer or b) a thinly disguised effort to spread misinformation about Frost for the benefit of another candidate. So what about reform?
Fair question. The party is broken. Fixing it won't work. It must be remade.
Martin Frost, as I note at the beginning, is the only candidate in this race with a record of doing just that. He went into the DCCC at its lowest point in 50 years. In both 1996 and 1998 he raised record sums of money and won back 14 seats in the House--a tremendous feat in an era when finding 5-10 competitive races in the entire country is nearly impossible thanks to safe-district gerrymandering on the part of both parties.
He did this not by following the status quo, but by recreating the DCCC. What did he do?
[This took some research, so thanks to the Frost website for having this information.]
-Changed the idea that one, national message was how you win elections. Frost, against the advice of Washington insiders, conducted regionalized and district specific polling to craft messages that spoke to their target audience.
-Was the FIRST DCCC chair to hire staffers to target base voters during non-presidential elections, and the first to hire Hispanic media consultants.
-Reorganized the DCCC by separating fundraising and political strategy. This division of labor clearly worked, as the DCCC won races and raised $80 million dollars.
As for what he will do as DNC chair, I think its similar to what everyone is proposing:
-50 state strategy that puts money in the hands of state and local parties.
-Ending the consultant culture in DC in favor of going onto the ground and understanding what voters really want.
-Supporting candidates in races at every level of the ballot--from county clerk to president--to build a real Democratic power base.
As for Frost's belief in the grassroots, I can speak to that from personal experience. I live in the 32nd district, and Frost people came by my house no fewer than 3 times. I was called more than I can count. And my yard sign was replaced (twice) even before I knew it was stolen.
Frost also knows the importance of protecting our Democracy--protecting our vote. I spoke with a friend of mine tonight (you all inspired the call) who volunteered for Frost as a poll watcher on election day, and she mentioned that Frost not only had poll watchers at every precinct but also brought in an election law lawyer to train poll watchers for all Dallas precincts--inside and outside the 32nd. This is the kind of organization and forethought that we need in a DNC Chair.
Anyhow, this is way to long and admittedly disjointed. I guess it was more stream of thought than in should have been, but it's late and I don't have the energy right now to organize it. If you want to hold that against me, I understand. Just don't hold it against Frost.
*A representative sampling of his most recent voting scores proves:
*AFL-CIO: 93 percent
*Human Rights Campaign: 88 percent
*Leadership Conference on Civil Rights: 92 percent
*League of Conservation Voters: 85 percent
*NARAL Pro Choice America: 100 percent
*National Hispanic Leadership Agenda: 83 percent
**Led Democrats to seat gains in 1996 AND 1998 as Chairman of the DCCC...only chair in the last 10 years to do this. Also has a 13-1 record of his own in Congressional races. Only loss came when Tom DeLay illegally gerrymandered him into a 65% Republican district.
**Raised highest total of any 2004 Congressional candidate, and shattered ALL previous DCCC records in 1996 and 1998.
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