The PCCC -- and where you fit in.

by: AdamGreen

Sun Jan 11, 2009 at 11:48

Hi, this is Adam Green. I recently left MoveOn to get some new ventures off the ground. You may have read about the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) at the Huffington Post. Or Chris and David's kind endorsements here at OpenLeft, or similarly kind words by Digby and Atrios.

I figured a Sunday morning would be a good time to go into detail about the rationale for this new group -- and to let you know where you fit in.

First, the PCCC mission. As our mission statement points out:

In 2008, one first-time progressive candidate in a key congressional district went through four campaign managers before losing.

Another spent $47,000 to retain a media firm that never produced a single TV ad. Another spent $40,000 on field consultants -- enough to pay 10 field staffers for two months, but which only bought a few hand-holding consultant calls. And others wasted thousands of dollars and weeks of staff time designing C-rate websites.

Every election cycle, inexperienced candidates who run on bold progressive ideas -- candidates who political insiders predict "can't win" -- come within a few points of victory. But too many lose winnable races due to the mistakes and inefficiencies of their campaigns.

Who is getting the backs of these progressive candidates? Who is helping them run competent, efficient campaigns so they can win? Right now, nobody.

...The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) will fill this void - providing needed infrastructure and strategic advice to progressive candidates so they can run first-class campaigns and win.

One thing I realized at MoveOn -- and that many folks across the blogosphere have written about in recent election cycles -- is that it makes no sense for the progressive community to raise tons of money for candidates who then spend it inefficiently, including on bloated consultant costs. We need to step up and help progressive candidates not just raise money, but run effective campaigns and win.

AdamGreen :: The PCCC -- and where you fit in.
So, what's the PCCC going to do specifically? Here are the top 3 jobs in the short term:

Job #1 -- helping candidates find super-competent, progressive campaign managers. Too often, folks hire their "political friends" or inexperienced staff. Every relevant decision of the campaign will stem from the campaign management -- including whether to spend money wisely and whether to campaign progressively. And to the extent that consultants are needed, we'll introduce campaigns to outside-the-box-thinking progressives like Bill Hillsman (Paul Wellstone and Ned Lamont's ad guy) and Steve Eichenbaum (Russ Feingold and Tom Perriello's ad guy).

Job #2 -- working with campaigns to implement best practices. One top progressive campaign in 2008 went months with a large field staff that had no daily metrics for success. Basic stuff like that can't happen.

Best practices also means innovation. Technology gives us a golden opportunity to replace some formerly-needed consultants with modern-day people power. As I said in the Huff Post piece, paying TV consultants thousands of bucks for a YouTube video is a waste of money. Opposition research consultants will someday be replaced by the wiki. The examples go on and on. Campaign spending must transform to account for and embrace people-powered technology. Our team of former MoveOn organizers, labor and campaign organizers, and the co-inventor of RSS & Reddit is uniquely suited to help campaigns know how to use the Internet to run people-powered campaigns. And we'll show candidates how to work as partners with the blogosphere and overall progressive community.

Job #3 -- economies of scale. As mentioned above, why do so many candidates spend weeks of staff time and thousands of dollars designing a lackluster website that doesn't have people-powered functionality? It makes no sense. Why not just have a progressive entity that designs the perfect website once and gets it to progressive candidates? There are a bunch of similar economies of scale that can be had to avoid reinventing broken wheels.

(There are also some cool technology-revolution things we have cooking for the long term, but that's for a different day.)

The net result: Progressive candidates save tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in campaign costs, giving them a competitive advantage and allowing them to run more effective campaigns and win.

So, where do you fit it?

Lots of ways.

First, sign up to stay in the loop with us. If we can't communicate with folks who agree with our core mission, we're in trouble.

Second, donate. Thanks to everyone who has given in the past few days, and thanks to Chris and David for adding us to the Better Democrats 2010 ActBlue page. Some people have given $10, while others have given $50 or $100 -- some even opted for monthly recurring donations. Every bit of support during this start-up phase really goes a long way. If you agree with the goal of helping progressive candidates run effective campaigns and win, please consider donating here.

Third, we need your thinking. Does the mission above seem on point? Do you know other examples of inefficiencies that we should be highlighting? Do you know of any amazingly competent and progressive campaign managers that we should be recommending to candidates? Are there any prospective 2010 candidates we should be thinking about? Do you know any progressive video makers, graphic designers, etc. who could help candidates without ripping them off? Do you want to just pitch in and volunteer with the PCCC?

Feel free to respond in the comments below, or email us any time.

The bottom line:
There's a lot of important work to do to get more progressive candidates elected. PCCC will be a vehicle for that goal, but it will take all of us to make it happen. It's totally doable. So, let's do it. (

UPDATE: This post is now on the "most recommended" list at Kos. Feel free to also participate in the discussion there.

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Yes!!!!!!!!! (4.00 / 9)
This has been needed for a long time.

I can't count how many campaigns I have seen destroyed from within by bad mgmt or tactics.  They waste money and effort.

One of the issues that also needs to be addressed is involvement of national organizations in selecting campaign managers.  When the DCCC, DSCC, Emily's List comes in they really take over the campaign and stick their own manager in.  THEY DON'T CARE that their person has a track record of failure or that they have no knowledge of the area or its politics.  They just push somebody in, run the folks that got the campaign going off, close the doors and make all the decisions themselves.  When it blows up they move on to run another campaign into the ground.

One more thing - PLEASE, PLEASE lets not forget that just because we've had a couple of winning cycles the majority of them for the last many years have been bad.  The "SYSTEM" is gonna come back and act like everything is ok because we won big last time.  Its not and its time to learn form our mistakes.

Probably Already on Your Radar (4.00 / 3)
But Doug Tudor, who did pretty good last time, is likely to run again in 2010 and he strikes me as the perfect candidate for something like this.

yup (4.00 / 1)
Have heard good things about Doug.

[ Parent ]
I also HIGHLY recommend (0.00 / 0)
Doug Tudor as a candidate for help from the PCCC.

[ Parent ]
thanks. (4.00 / 2)
Good points.

If you have any specific examples of progressive campaigns that lost due to poor management, more examples would be appreciated.  

Kevin Powell, NY-10 (0.00 / 0)
I watched it happen, and there were real management and coordination issues, as well as ineffective media, volunteer and netroots strategies.  But I'd love to see the guy break through and take Towns down a notch.

[ Parent ]
for raising money (0.00 / 0)
it's going to help to put up success stories, how good management got candidates elected, how PCCC is going to make that happen again, what is the operating model. Put up real contact info too, office location, and a short bio of every PCCC leader and staffer too, that will help. Does no good to say you're gonna give pro campaign advice when your fundraising skillz are not pro.

I hear ya (0.00 / 0)
See Huff Post piece above...has the original team in it.

[ Parent ]
Will the PCCC help out progressive primary challengers? (4.00 / 1)
Because I'm all about the primary challenges.

see the Huff Post piece linked to above... (4.00 / 2)
We lay out our priorities in there. Higher priority given to open-seat competitive primaries and general election progressive candidates.

Stay in the loop.

[ Parent ]
Link Up With Wellstone Action (4.00 / 3)
I would strongly recommend that you link up and work with Wellstone Action.  Get in touch with Jeff Blodgett and see how the various services they have on offer would help your mission.  

What they have been doing -- running weekend "Camp Wellstones" for the core groups backing specific campaigns, the people who will create the field program.

Training Candidates -- providing a process so that a good candidate self assesses strengths and weaknesses, and fits them into the long schedule and strategic development of a particular campaign.  

They also train Campaign Managers, and they have a body of young experienced managers who can be hired for campaigns in various positions.  

Blodgett ran Obama's Campaign in Minnesota last year (10% margin on McCain) and had former Wellstone Campers in a number of successful races, as well as at various levels in Obama's Campaign.  Since 2004 they have put lots of resources into State Level Campaigns -- State Legislative Races, and some of these early campers (office holders) are now ready to move up to do Congressional Seats.  They also have links to many successful and experienced specialists -- media people, fund raisers, etc., who are non-DC based specialists.  They are a non-profit -- it is Paul Wellstone's living memorial.  They have also been working with Howard Dean since 2004.  

DFA should be part of this effort also. n/t (4.00 / 1)

Glad your doing this (4.00 / 2)
Although I still have some questions about your mission and qualms about how your going about it. But I'll probably send you a private e-mail about that soon.

Few things

-I agree with Sarah. Hook up with Jeff Blodgett, he's an awesome guy who knows a lot of smart campaign workers, if you don't know his contacts I'll hook you up with him.

-Glad to see you mention Hillsman and Eichenbaum. But generally I would steer candidates towards Eichenbaum. He's much more of a, er, team player.

- I saw you mention Virgina races at Dkos. Two races I would target are Del. Rob Bell in the 58th district and Watkins Abbitt in the 59th district. I know some great people who Michael also does who would be good to get working on campaigns and finding candidates. I'll send you more in e-mail.

-Worst run campaigns of 08 awards would go to Bennett, Boswell, Feder, Greenwald, Jennings, Kilroy, Kissell, Stender and Tinklenberg. Study them, see what they did wrong and learn.

I'll send you more later.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

I really liked this post, but I ddint 't like parts too. (0.00 / 0)
The listing of failed Names was interesting, but not informative. What they did wrong would have been fantastic. For that many races I'm sure the list would be long, but I'll bet you group them into catagories, such as "spent money on people who never intended to match effort to price" or "used a media buy that never reached their demographic"

Merely listing them, unless this is a post that's not aimed at the people who read here, but merely a misdirected email to a friend, didnt add much to the discussion.

This is not a flame.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
Great Idea! (4.00 / 1)
Adam - a couple of thoughts

1. I was involved in California with phone calling for Obama.  I was told California alone did half the phone calls in the last couple of weeks.  I had thought that one way for me to help out (and not move) would be to set up (with others) a progressive phone banking place.  All volunteer run.  

2. Over twenty years ago I heard of a phone banking system where voters were identified by job, or club association and they had like call like.  For example firemen called firemen.  They said it was incredibly successful, but I have not seen things like that lately.  

McCain on the minimum wage

Dan Seals held teacher phone banks (4.00 / 1)
One night per week, phone banks were scheduled for teachers to call teachers in his close race with Mark Kirk, Illinois 10th CD. So, the idea has not been entirely forgotten.

[ Parent ]
IL-05 has four, count em, four progressive candidates (0.00 / 0)
in the special primary to fill Rahm Emanuel's vacated seat, which is effectively the election. It's complicated and we are holding our breath that they don't enable a machine candidate win by dividing up the vote. Probably too late for you and maybe not your mission to engage in primaries.

Jeff Wegerson

Primary Involvement (0.00 / 0)
Adam et al, I firmly believe that progressives need to make their voices and choices known during the primary process.  If we try to continue the old way of not picking one Democrat over another during the primaries, we will continue to end up with mega-rich conservatives as our Democratic nominees.  We are progressives, and we should only support other progressives -- not just whatever Dem ends up with the nomination.


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