Democracy for America

Lead like Winners

by: Arshad Hasan

Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 15:00

We have had a quite a reaction to our email this week, "Democrats: Epic Fail." Here are some of the emails from our members. About 25 to 1 positive responses, like this:

"I hope EVERY right-wing, corporatist Democrat in Congress loses. Since they're really Republicans, at least then we'll know where we stand and what we need to do to get REAL Democrats elected."

"Our so called 60 seat majority in the Senate was an ILLUSION. At least 4 and up to 15 Senators are FAKE democrats."

"I agree with you completely but if we lose the House I will slit my darn wrists if gd Boehner is Speaker, I'll definitely leave thus country and that I'm 100% serious about. ... What you're planning is something I totally agree with and will help any way I can. ...I'm active in working toward an end that will keep Progressives, strong and hardcore Progressives that will not step away from bills we need and helping those that require it."

But some critiques, as well, like this:

"If Blanche Lincoln loses to a Republican, we've shot ourselves in the foot.  We can congratulate ourselves on overthrowing a Wall Street Democrat, but what we're stuck with is a Wall Street Family values Republican. Yippee.  Instead of someone who might be moved by our voices, we get someone who turns a deaf ear. Again I say, Yippee."

"Bless you for all your hard work, but this country is broken.  The money continues to win big time, bigger every day. The middle class should pack up and leave, but there's not place to go."

"I can't agree with you, I'm afraid.  I, too, MUCH prefer progressive Democrats.  But, even if we can't always count on the vote of the Blanche Lincolns of the world, we need every Democrat we can possibly elect -- and she's the only one running in that election."

"Well, I love progressives too. I am one. But you're messing around with peoples' lives . . . If republicans win they will absolutely repeal health care reform. They don't plan to pay one more tax dollar for 'the likes of you and me.'"

There have also been a few blog posts that run the gamut:

Happy Nappy Head says,

"I'm seriously doing the research into contributing to some of these folks backed by the website, because I completely agree. Maybe we need to shake some shit up... Whatever the case, it's clear that the agenda in Washington right now is simple. It's "M.O.B.= Money Over Bitches."

While, Karoli of Odd Time Signatures disagrees,

"From a purely political standpoint, one does not send a fundraising notice out to members based upon a REPUBLICAN failure and call it a failure on the part of Democrats. At least, not if one expects to maintain a coalition that will win and move toward progress."

We listen to our members and we pay close attention the the netroots. But here, I respectfully disagree with Karoli and our other critics, for this reason: (after the break)

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MA-09: A Better Democrat the Netroots Should Invest In

by: Mac D'Alessandro

Tue Jul 27, 2010 at 13:10

When I was at Netroots Nation on Thursday, I pointed out why a majority in the House of members with D's next to their names isn't as valuable as a majority populated by Better Democrats:

We currently hold a 37-vote-margin in the House.  Yet 34 Democrats voted against the health care reform and 19 voted against financial reform.  It doesn't take a genius to see that it barely matters what happens in November when that many Democrats are voting with - and voting like - Republicans.

That's why you were there for Donna Edwards when she took on Al Wynn.  That's why you were there for Bill Halter when he took on Blanche Lincoln.  And that's why you should be with me as I take on Stephen Lynch.

As a reminder, my opponent in the Democratic primary, incumbent Stephen Lynch, voted for the Iraq War and its continued funding, for the Patriot Act and its reauthorization, and against health care reform, and has voted to restrict a woman's right to choose.

The differences between my values and Stephen Lynch's values couldn't be clearer.  Ilyse Hogue, Director of Political Advocacy and Communications for, highlighted as much when she sat down with Amy Goodman for an episode of Democracy Now! taped on location at Netroots Nation:

Amy Goodman (52:33): Ilyse Hogue, what about other primaries that are taking place?

Ilyse Hogue (52:37): Well, I think Bill Halter was the precursor.  What we saw was him embodying a very strong feeling that our members have, and we think is sweeping across the country, which is he was taking on Wall Street.  But Blanche Lincoln was also showing a friendliness towards the HMO's during the health care fight.  And, what we're seeing is the base - our members - saying, 'Enough with Democrats who think that they're more accountable to corporate powers in this country than they are to us.

So we're seeing that same thing play out with Stephen Lynch and Mac D'Alessandro in Massachusetts-09.  That primary is September 14th.  What's interesting about that is that that is largely believed to be a safe Democratic seat, so the primary is actually the election.  And Stephen Lynch, who is the incumbent, voted against the health care bill even though, at the end of the day, most of the Democratic base thought it would provide some relief.  He did not do it as a champion for the public option.  He was not there for the public option fight.

Mac D'Alessandro has come in and he's said, 'You know what?  If we really want this democracy to be owned by the people and work for the people, we've got to do things.  We've got to overturn Citizens United.  We've got to actually get public financing.  We've got to get lobbyists out of D.C.'  And, I think that most Americans are looking for action on specific legislation like financial regulations, but they're also looking for people who are going to challenge the system because the system is not working for most Americans.

The kind of grassroots campaign that I'm running is built upon reaching out to voters directly, on the phones and at the doors.  With the help of enthusiastic supporters across the 9th district, we have built a grassroots army that has generated strong momentum.

Just today, it was announced that we finished in second place in Democracy for America's Grassroots All-Stars contest, a competition that began with ninety candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives from across the country.  I was the top finishing candidate among those still in a primary campaign, and I was the only candidate among the top five finalists not from the state of California.

I am running against an entrenched incumbent who has a million dollar warchest lined with contributions from big corporations and special interests.  But, if there's one thing I've heard over and over again from voters as I've gone door to door across the district, it's that the voters want someone who stands up to big corporations, not someone who is funded by them.

That's why I need your support and the support of the netroots.  Like Ilyse Hogue said, this is a blue district, so we have an opportunity to focus on electing the best Democrat we can.  I urge you to support my campaign so that Massachusetts' 9th can be represented by a Better Democrat.

Mac D'Alessandro on the web:

  • Mac D'Alessandro for Congress 2010 official campaign website

  • Mac D'Alessandro for Congress 2010 Facebook page

  • Mac D'Alessandro for Congress 2010 Twitter feed

  • Mac D'Alessandro for Congress 2010 ActBlue page
  • Discuss :: (0 Comments)

    Primaries Are Not Over: Swett Opposes Marriage Equality in NH

    by: Levana Layendecker

    Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 16:30

    In her interview with the Nashua Telegraph, conservadem Katrina Swett said a couple of interesting things. Once you get past this gem: (Seriously, if Democrats think this is the best way to win--they are sorely mistaken.)

    "Swett said she would have supported retiring Sen. Judd Gregg's legislation for a deficit commission to create mandatory plans that would have had to be voted up or down to erase the deficit. This would have included future restrictions on entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare."

    You can't help but notice this little tidbit:

    " . . . not in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide."

    H/T to DownWithTyranny for tweeting this today, and pointing out that,

    "On January 1, 2010 same sex marriage replaced civil unions in that state, the fifth to do so in the U.S. Most New Hampshire voters approve, despite divisiveness on the political right. Although 63% of Independents approve, only about a third of Republicans do. Democrats, of course, are overwhelmingly in favor."

    So in spite of her state's, and specifically Democrats in her state, support for marriage equality, she still opposes it. I wonder how Democrats in NH feel about Social Security? Democrats will win when they act like Democrats, and we don't want to elect people who don't represent our values.

    Ann McLane-Kuster, the real Democrat in the race, on the other hand, said this in response to Swett's statements(via DownWithTyranny):

    "I was a vocal supporter for passing marriage equality here in New Hampshire," she told us, "and I'll continue to support marriage equality in Washington. We should have less government interference in our personal lives, at both the state and federal levels."

    These primaries really do matter for the future of our party, and our country. We need progressive leaders like Ann McLane-Kuster in Congress. She can win it with your help. Chip in $5, $10, or $15 today.

    Discuss :: (3 Comments)

    If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

    by: Levana Layendecker

    Tue Jun 15, 2010 at 17:05

    After reading Christina Bellatoni's piece in TPM "Operation Fix The Campaign: How National Parties Help Unlikely Winners," I was confused. Do national parties need to "fix" campaigns that won? I'm no expert, but shouldn't they learn from campaigns that won? It seems to me, as a candidate, if you can beat someone who outspent you by millions with the hard work and dedication of volunteers, close friends, and family who were so inspired by you and your message that they gave up weeks and months of their time, maybe you've got a good thing going there. To me, this is like trying to sell David a RPG after he killed Goliath with his sling shot. Newsflash: The sling shot worked and you were rooting for Goliath.

    Bellatoni points out that, "In such a critical election cycle where the Republicans are attempting to win back control of Congress, there's no way either party would leave a campaign up to chance." Yes, that is true. So, then why would national party committees continue to completely ignore all of the people on the ground who could help win elections. I am talking about the actual Democrats who proudly proclaim to their party affiliation and then proceed to knock on doors, make calls, and show up to vote over and over again. When those folks get their say at the polls in a Primary, then they are your best allies in the general - provided the same candidate is still running in the general election.

    It looks like the DSCC has some sense of the need for the candidates to remain consistent with what got them there:

    Asked specifically about Sestak, Menendez (D-NJ), said the party isn't installing people with a "cookie cutter" approach, and wants candidates to maintain their independence.

    However, there is no mention of the voters, supporters, or the people who put them there. In fact, the whole article points to how the parties are encouraging campaigns to jettison people who worked for free. Really? Aren't those your most dedicated folks?

    The media often characterize grassroots groups like DFA, MoveOn, or PCCC as outsiders coming in to a state to stir people up. But, as Democrats in the states know, we actually give support to Democrats on the ground who understand their states and districts and want to elect candidates who stand for something. We are simply providing some resources to the activists who care the most and who make things happen. It's amazing what they can do when they are empowered to make their own decisions. The national party could just as easily do the same.

    I don't disagree that campaigns "need structure," but what campaigns don't need is DC operatives putting out the fire in the belly that got them there in the first place. Let's hope that is not the DSCC plan. Listen to the Democratic voters in the states and build your campaigns around them-they are the ones who will turn out in a midterm if you give them a reason.  

    Discuss :: (2 Comments)

    Following DFA's lead, endorses Elaine Marshall for Senate in NC

    by: Levana Layendecker

    Tue Jun 15, 2010 at 16:24

    It looks like members are just as excited about Elaine Marshall as DFA and the rest of North Carolina. Over 70% of's NC members supported Elaine in for the runoff on June 22. The vote will determine which candidate will run against incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R).

    Elaine Marshall's popularity in North Carolina reflects her deep roots in the community. Marshall was also endorsed by Durham mayor Bill Bell and Asheville mayor Terry Bellam.

    Marshall's opponent, supported by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has raised $1.2 million against Marshall's $775,003, but is still behind in the polls. It's not over yet though, and when they start spending that money on ads to attack Marshall, she will need your help.

    Click here to pitch and make sure that Elaine Marshall keeps going strong.

    Discuss :: (0 Comments)

    Another One to Watch: Elaine Marshall Gets Key Endorsement in NC

    by: Levana Layendecker

    Fri Jun 04, 2010 at 16:07

    Not as high profile as the AR race, but equally important to getting another Progressive in the Senate -- the NC runoff is June 22. DFA endorsed candidate, Elaine Marshall, just got the endorsement of the largest Progressive paper in the state: The Independent Weekly.

    They reiterate what DFA members on the ground have been saying since the beginning:

    . . . If nominated, Marshall would have a better chance of winning the fall election against Republican Sen. Richard Burr. The second: If elected, Marshall would be the stronger senator.

    It is fascinating to observe the difference between the in-state analysis of this race vs. the calculation of the DC insider establishment who are supporting Cunningham.

    More from The Indy:

    The difference may be as simple as the fact that Marshall, in her bones and in her roots, is working-class. So she's not confused about what the rights of working men and women should be in a world economy dominated by giant corporations and banks. Nor is she in doubt about where the federal government should stand. It should stand, she believes, with the working class for their jobs, and against labor and trade policies that privilege capital at the expense of people and the environment-at home or abroad. No more outsourcing of America's future.

    As a lawyer, a state senator and for the last 14 years as secretary of state, Marshall has been a consistent voice and vote for the interests of regular folks and equal rights for all. She was a forceful exponent of women's equality early in her career, and as a legislator she helped enact a series of laws improving women's health care in North Carolina. She has also stood for equal rights for gays and lesbians, and in this campaign came out early and strongly for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the anti-gay military policy, and of the federal DOMA, the discriminatory law misnamed the Defense of Marriage Act.

    Elaine Marshall has a record of winning and North Carolinians really like her. She beat a NASCAR driver, for pete's sake.

    From her Charlotte Observer endorsement:

    Marshall became the first woman elected statewide to executive office in North Carolina in 1996, when she defeated NASCAR legend Richard Petty in a race for secretary of state. She has won re-election three times since and is the only one of this bunch to have won statewide. In 2008, she won more votes in a contested race than anyone but Attorney General Roy Cooper.

    It looks like NC has decided who they think is the best Progressive to beat Burr. I hope DC catches up. To chip in to Elaine's campaign, give here.  

    Discuss :: (4 Comments)

    Five Days Left for Bill Halter to Win

    by: Levana Layendecker

    Thu Jun 03, 2010 at 17:02

    Just in case you are counting . . . there are 5 days left until the AR Primary Runoff. Bill Halter is doing great and you can help push him over the edge. Check out this momentum - puts Halter ahead 47.9% to Lincoln's 45.2%.

    Give him the boost that he needs by giving here. Or, sign up to volunteer here. You can volunteer from anywhere in the US.

    They recently released 2 new ads. One features DFA member, Pauline, and Arkansan who is ready for change. Take a look, they are both worth watching:



    There's a ton of great energy in the campaign. And, DFA staff and Members are there on the ground to help out. You can help too -- every dollar, phone call, and face-to-face conversation makes a difference.


    Discuss :: (1 Comments)

    NEW POLL: Halter Leading in Primary Runoff

    by: Levana Layendecker

    Wed May 19, 2010 at 15:48

    ( - promoted by Chris Bowers)

    "This is not a left vs. right debate. Voters care about who is going to fight for them in Washington against special interest lobbyists." - Charles Chamberlain, Political Director DFA

    Last night DFA commissioned a poll from Research 2000 to see why Democratic voters went to the polls in Arkansas yesterday.

    Here is what we found: Democrats in Arkansas want someone who will stand up for them, not stand with corporate lobbyists in DC. And, Bill Halter is ahead in the run-off 48-46.

    (More results after the break.)

    There's More... :: (14 Comments, 186 words in story)

    Playing to win

    by: Levana Layendecker

    Mon May 17, 2010 at 15:14

    (Join the call tonight for live election updates and learn about the 50 state action plan. - promoted by Levana Layendecker)

    It's working.  Politics Daily: Poll Watch is reporting:

    "The two latest polls on the primary battle between Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak for the Democratic senate nomination has them statistically tied, with just two points separating them."

    And, TIME declared today:

    "Blanche Lincoln is finding that the middle of the road can be a dangerous place."

    This is truly a testament to grassroots work going on in the states. I know it's not surprising, but when we get out there and talk to voters about what matters to them in their daily lives - like ending Wall Street corruption -- people get excited. Kudos to all the volunteers who are getting out there today. Just this last weekend the coalition of DFA, MoveOn, and PCCC volunteers made more than 3,000 calls to voters in AR resulting in more than 200 new volunteers.

    Voters simply don't care about DC partisan parlour games and it shows in the polls. Voters do care about corporate lobbyists are dominating the real game in Washington. That's why as soon as the polls close tomorrow, DFA is rolling out the game plan to win real victories on the issues that we care about like ending Wall Street corruption, stopping Big Oil domination, and reigning in Insurance Company greed. Join us on our 50 state action plan call tomorrow night, May 18th at 8:00 PM to hear about the plan.

    We know it's going to be a nail biter, so Jim Dean and Arshad Hasan will be giving live updates from the ground in PA and AR. Meanwhile, we will be setting up the plan to win progressive change in Congress in 2010 and beyond.

    In 2006 and 2008, the 50 State Strategy elected scores of Democrats, and it will elect scores of progressives this fall. Democrats in Washington are still playing defense, but DFA is playing offense. On the conference call, you'll hear from Governor Howard Dean and DFA Field Director Matt Blizek about our strategy to elect progressives and keep growing our community with the 50 State Action Plan. After the call, we'll meet back here -- at OpenLeft -- for live blogging as the results from PA, KY, and AR come in.


    I can't wait to work with you on the winning team for progressives.

    Discuss :: (0 Comments)

    Politics Daily's Jill Lawrence: Journalism Without Facts

    by: AdamGreen

    Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 07:30

    Great news for "the left" -- Politics Daily's Jill Lawrence wrote us a memo!

    Who is Jill Lawrence, you may ask. She is the prognosticator who declared three months ago, "It may be too soon to write a requiem for the public option, but I'm going to do it anyway..."

    Surprise, surprise, she now writes, "Memo to the Left: The Public Health Insurance Option Is Dead, Get Over It."

    I actually don't care that someone would question whether the public option is dead. Ezra Klein -- a smart guy -- wrote just last Friday, "The public option: Very alive or totally dead?" (He also wrote, "the story of the public option's resurgence has been a mixture of smart organizing and Senate cowardice," much appreciated by the thousands of folks who have been organizing on this issue.)

    What I resent about Jill Lawrence's "memo" is that she engages in journalism without facts. Check out her main three arguments against progressives:

    First, a public option could complicate passage in the House. Pelosi is trying to balance potential loss of support from anti-abortion Democrats against gains that may come from moderate "Blue Dog" Democrats who prefer the Senate bill. They like it in part because it has no public option.

    I spoke with Jill Lawrence and she said this on the phone. I asked her point blank, "What yes votes turn to no votes because of the public option?" Her answer, "Well, I don't know the names."

    I suggested she find them. Evidently, she couldn't. But she threw this unsupported argument out there anyway.

    One could just as easily say some members of the House are more likely to vote for the bill if it has a public option. Unlike Jill Lawrence, I can name names. The Atlantic's Chris Good wrote about Rep. Scott Murphy (D-NY) -- a former "no" vote -- in his piece, "A Moderate Dem For The Public Option." When signing our House public option letter, Murphy said:

    "Our nation's health care system is broken.  To have real reform we need to ensure three things; accessibility, accountability, and affordability.  I support this letter because the public option would help achieve all three of these goals and help to keep costs down by giving the American public a competitive option to private insurers." 

    Jill Lawrence's first point goes down in flames. But, she took two more stabs at it. Here's the next one:

    There's More... :: (6 Comments, 772 words in story)

    51 votes exist in Senate -- IF Nancy Pelosi passes the public option instead of killing it

    by: AdamGreen

    Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 12:00

    Last night, on MSNBC's Ed Show, the PCCC and our partners at announced, "We can say with confidence that there would be at least 51 votes for the public option in the Senate if the House goes first" and then named names and revealed new information.

    Ed Schultz called it "the best reporting I have seen anywhere on a head count of the public option." (Ok, ok, he hasn't seen Chris's awesome reporting...) Here's the video: 

    Discuss :: (48 Comments)

    Training Tuesday: The Numbers You Need To Win Your Election - Part 2

    by: SumofChange

    Tue Feb 02, 2010 at 11:54

    originally posted by Mitch Malasky at Sum of Change

    This week, we are going to follow up on last week's post on the numbers you need to win your election.  This week, we're looking at special circumstances and unique elections and how that may or may not effect how you set your numbers.

    There's More... :: (0 Comments, 280 words in story)

    Training Tuesday: The Numbers You Need To Win Your Election - Part 1

    by: SumofChange

    Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 14:58

    originally posted by Mitch Malasky at Sum of Change

    This week's Training Tuesday post revolves around a repeated mantra from Kendra-Sue Derby, this week's trainer- It's All About The Numbers.  Before you start worrying about anything else in your campaign, you have to know how many votes you need to win.  This seems relatively self-evident, but it is a number that often goes overlooked.

    There's More... :: (0 Comments, 304 words in story)

    Training Tuesday: GOTV

    by: SumofChange

    Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 19:01

    originally posted by Will Urquhart at Sum of Change

    This week's Training Tuesday takes us back to Democracy for America's Campaign Academy in Gettysburg, PA 2009. For the last couple weeks we brought you lessons from the Organizing 2.0 conference, and we still have plenty more to come.

    Anyways, first things first, a little history on the DFA campaign academy:

    There's More... :: (0 Comments, 51 words in story)

    Training Tuesday with the DFA: Fun Budget Tips

    by: SumofChange

    Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 18:03

    originally posted by Will Urquhart at Sum of Change

    Last week, we covered the basics of managing and organizing a campaign budget. If you know little-to-nothing about campaign finance but would like to, or if you are just about to start putting together the budget for a campaign, you should definitely check out last week's Training Tuesday. Today is not for the basics. Instead, we are using this Training Tuesday to share with you four very important tips that will help you out along the way:

    There's More... :: (0 Comments, 111 words in story)
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