Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Would Georgia Turn Blue for Dean's DNC? the State Party Is Snagging a Few Republican Tactics

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Would Georgia Turn Blue for Dean's DNC? the State Party Is Snagging a Few Republican Tactics

Article excerpt


ATLANTA -- During his visit June 2, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told members of an Atlanta audience that their mayor, Shirley Franklin, was a busy person because he had trouble connecting with her for any joint appearances during his presidential campaign.

The question now is whether he gets the same treatment as head of the national party. Indeed, there were few party stalwarts at his Atlanta appearance this month, other than Franklin, Georgia party Chairman Bobby Kahn, a handful of urban legislators and a couple of lobbyists.

Franklin said "Georgia is ready to turn blue." How ready is debatable.

According to Kahn, the secret to turning a red state like Georgia blue is the work done in the off years.

To that end, the state party is conducting a series of 17 training seminars across Georgia from April to December. It is also borrowing organizational tactics from Republicans who have long had chairmen at the precinct level and even at the neighborhood level in some races.

For example, 20 months before the 2006 election, Ralph Reed released a list of 470 campaign volunteers in 140 counties for his race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.

Dean has adopted the same long-range approach. The money he is raising on his cross-country speaking tour will largely go to help hire staff needed by state parties. He's committed to putting four national party staffers in Georgia for off-year party building, and he wants the national party to aid local and state candidates rather than simply focusing on presidential races.

"This is a four-year campaign, not a four-month campaign," he said.


Besides logistics, issues win or lose campaigns. And Dean is staking out some interesting positions for the national party.

He notes that Newt Gingrich didn't engineer the 1994 Republican takeover of the U.S. House by being just like the Democrats who were the dominant party at the time. Instead, Dean said, the Georgia congressman found a few broadly popular positions that GOP challengers could take, called the Contract With America, that demonstrated their differences from Democratic incumbents.

Dean is like the Gingrich of the early 1990s in another respect, believing challengers cannot simply attack what they are against without also asserting what they are for.

In his case, Dean acknowledges that voters were motivated last year by moral issues.

"We need to talk about moral values and not be afraid," he said. …

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