Iowa Independent makes an extremely disturbing allegation: the Obama campaign is not integrating downticket campaigns into a "coordinated campaign" structure. Instead, local Democratic staff are being fired and replaced with Obama staff:
At least 20 employees of the Iowa Democratic Party have been demoted or fired and a coordinated state-wide campaign was essentially disbanded, replaced by a focus on the presidential bid of Sen. Barack Obama.
Details are sketchy, but the changes could have an impact on November's legislative races, with field staff that was previously working for down-ticket races now being placed on the payroll of Obama's presidential campaign and working almost entirely on its behalf.(...)
Several sources familiar with the plan told the Iowa Independent that Iowa's Democratic elected officials -- from Sen. Tom Harkin to the leaders of the Iowa House and Senate -- had signed off and paid fees to participate in the coordinated campaign, which is a method by which Democrats pool their resources and avoid certain campaign redundancies. By June 1, Democratic Party employees had been deployed across the state to work on the coordinated effort. According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, by June 20, the Iowa Democratic Party had 28 salaried employees working in its Des Moines headquarters and in the field.
By mid-June the Obama campaign had deployed its own staff to Iowa to lead its general election campaign here, a move that is typical for a presidential nominee. But Obama's campaign began to assign organizers to parts of the state where the coordinated campaign already had a presence, and insiders began to wonder why. In the past week and a half, the answer to that question has been slowly revealed.
Obama's campaign demanded that its own staff replace existing staff in places where there was overlap and cast aside several opportunities to cooperate with down-ticket candidates between now and November, another source familiar with the negotiations said. Essentially, the state coordinated campaign was disbanded and replaced by the Obama campaign organization.(...)
The situation mirrors what happened in Colorado, where the Obama campaign announced last last month it would not be joining the state's coordinated campaign and instead would operate alongside it.
Obama sent dozens of staff to help out with Bill Foster's special election in the Illinois 14th congressional district, and has also sent campaign staff to all fifty states. As such, what is really disturbing about these charges is that the promise Obama's campaign and movement held out for a fifty-state strategy that supported downticket candidates everywhere could be a mirage. If local staff are being fired, coordinated campaigns are being abandoned, and everything is replaced with Obama-focused infrastructure, then this isn't really party building, it isn't really a fifty-state strategy, and it isn't really a movement. It is, instead, an entirely top-down organization serving a single purpose: electing Barack Obama.
As Matt wrote several weeks ago, Obama is indeed consolidating all party infrastructure. He also seems to be discarding several important aspects of Democratic and progressive infrastructure as part of this consolidation. While one can made an argument about the value of 527s (or lack thereof), laying off local Democratic organizers who were working on a coordinated campaign up and down the ticket, and replacing them with national staff from other areas of the country, is simply not justifiable. That is an anathema to the fifty-state strategy, and to the principle of building up the party everywhere.
These are just allegations, so I will reserve more incendiary judgment for now. I will be very interested to see more details emerge on this story, both in Iowa and in other states around the country.
Update: Just talked with a couple of staffers in a different region, Update New York. There will be a coordinated campaign for congressional and state senate races in the local hotbed, Rochester. It will not be impacted by the Obama campaign. So, this does not appear to be the case everywhere. One possibility is that this is only happening in the uber-swing states, like Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia. Not a total disaster, but still not great. Looking for more info.