Monday, January 08, 2007

Election 2008

In case anyone needs a reminder, election 2008 has begun. If there is any single defeat that stung the Republicans, it was having Richard Pombo tossed unceremoniously onto the ash heap of history. In fact, the Republican National Committee has already started the counter-attack.

I have not seen the text, but here is what was reported on the votepomboout email list last night.

And we received our first "hit piece" since the election attacking
McNerney for "rewarding illegal aliens." At least it didn't mention
Pombo ("paid for by the National Republican Congressional
Committee") but I worry after the comment in a Vorderbrueggen
article several weeks ago saying Guy Houston waiting for Pombo to
decide about a rematch before Houston considered running in the 11th
when he terms out in 2008.

Did this flyer to go everyone in the district or just registered
Republicans?
My guess is that it was just registered Republicans, since I did not get a copy and I know that the person posting to that list is, even though they worked to dump Pombo like the rest of us.

The question I have for Greens: who is already planning for 2008?

14 comments:

Patrick Meighan said...

Will 2008 be the year that a few local Green electeds roll the dice and attempt a run for the next higher office?

Up 'til this point, unless I am mistaken (and please correct me if I am) California's Green legislative and congressional candidates (not to mention state-widers) have primarily been non-office-holding Green activists who tend to lack the name recognition, the money, and the broad base of supporters necessary to be a genuine, credible threat to win. God love 'em for their efforts, but first-time candidates who meet the above criteria don't tend to win legislative and congressional races, no matter how enlightened their agenda, no matter how well-intentioned their hearts.

Such candidates should be running for local offices.

It's the Ross Mirkarimis, the Jane Kims and Mark Sanchezes, or the Sebastopol and/or Arcata electeds of our party who should be planning legislative or congressional runs for 2008.

The rest of us, in my opinion, should be devoting ourselves to becoming this party's next Ross Mirkarimis, Jane Kims and Mark Sanchezes, to replace them as they move up, and to one day be ready to move up, ourselves.

At the end of the day, I believe, this is a much more strategically-sound path for the Green Party to follow than our current strategy of running well-intended but anonymous Greens for congress. Doing so may or may not be providing a forum for the Green message but, electorally, it's not yielding fruit.

Patrick Meighan
Los Angeles Greens

Wes said...

That is right, Patrick. You are getting to the point. Those who are interested in governance, put themselves in positions to govern. Those who are interested in some idea(l) put themselves in a position to gain the maximum exposure for that.

Many Green candidates appear not to be interested in governance, but in pushing toward some goal. That makes it very easy for the Democrats to co-opt any position that seems to attract adherents attention from among the public.

Patrick Meighan said...

"Many Green candidates appear not to be interested in governance, but in pushing toward some goal. That makes it very easy for the Democrats to co-opt any position that seems to attract adherents attention from among the public."

To be fair, that's not without merit. If someone's ultimate goal is to create a better, safer, more humane and sustainable society, then it shouldn't really matter if the policies that create that society are enacted by Green elected officials, or by Democratic elected officials who have co-opted popular Green positions.

But even if THAT is your goal--even if your goal is to promote ideas that will create a more progressive California, rather than attaning a position in government--you'll be more effective if you are politically viable. The Democrats will have more incentive to co-opt policies from viable, well-funded, well-backed Green candidates who are genuine threats to their office than they will from plucky, well-meaning but anonymous Green candidates who are no threat to them whatsoever. Right now, we're only running the latter type of candidate (certainly at the legislative and congressional level, not to mention statewide). It's long past time we got serious about building the former type of candidate.

Patrick Meighan
Los Angeles Greens

Lisa said...

Well, how do we recruit and develop these type candidates?

I think our decentralization hurts us in this regard. People often ask me why are the Greens running there, or why are they running against so and so ...

and I say:
there is no vetting process, do you realize that if a Green shows up and says I'm running, that's about it. there is nothing the party or locals can really do to stop other than not endorse, and frankly,how much weight does that carry when most voters will be oblivious to the non-endorsement, and the candidate will be on the GP ballot line anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I prefer our method to Nunez and a few other head honchos mapping out the state and anointing Dems to run here, there... but we have major drawbacks in our process.

Patrick Meighan said...

"Well, how do we recruit and develop these type candidates?"

I think we develop these candidates by being more involved in local issues, even if it means disengaging ourselves largely from international, national and even statewide issues.

Being involved in local issues helps us build a local base. It establishes connections to local community leaders who we can recruit to run as Greens, or who we can call on for support and assistance when we, ourselves, run as Greens.

In my opinion, marching in ANSWER rallies, as important as that is, seems to be much less fruitful than, say, local community-issue-level organizing, when it comes to establishing networks and bases that will one day be helpful to Green candidates running for local office. Most voters, by and large, don't vote for a city council candidate based on whether or not he/she's been active in anti-war actions. They vote for city council candidates based on whether or not he/she's been active in local, bread-and-butter fights that are meaningful to them and make a difference in their everyday lives. So, IMO, every action we participate in that is of the former category rather than the latter represents time and energy that is inefficiently spent (from the point of view of increasing Green electoral viability at the local level).

Local, local, local.

These are just my opinions, of course. I could be wrong. I frequently am.

Patrick Meighan
UCLA Class of '95

Lisa said...

Yes, good points Patrick, and the work that you and Linda and other LA Greens have been doing in Los Angeles with LAANE, the Hotel Workers, and South Central Farm are good examples. The connections we are making in the local community are important.

Though assuming you, Linda, Derek and Tera are not ever going to run for LA office, we need a way to recruit others to run for us. Are we hoping to meet others in the above mentioned efforts and ask them to switch Green, if they are not already, and run for us?

I mentioned before that I recruited Peter Thottam to run for Assembly. Is that it, just here and there one of asks somebody?
Kinda haphazard, huh.

As I said, I think our decentralization hurts us with candidate development. I hope to talk about this at our upcoming LA Greens retreat.

Patrick Meighan said...

"assuming you, Linda, Derek and Tera are not ever going to run for LA office, we need a way to recruit others to run for us."

Well, I'm not sure I'm not EVER gonna run for LA office. I hope not to. I REALLY hope not to. But someday I may just have to, and my wife will have to deal.

"Are we hoping to meet others in the above mentioned efforts and ask them to switch Green, if they are not already, and run for us?"

Well, I've never done this before, but, well, yeah, I guess that's how it works. The good news is that it'll get easier to do exactly this in the future. For one thing, we'll have a bigger and wider network of local community activists with whom we Greens will have established a relationship, which means a bigger pool of people from which to recruit potential candidates. And also, the LA Greens will have more to offer a potential candidate we're attempting recruit than we currently do, as we'll have a bigger local community activist base to tap for mobilization, fundraising, houseparties, GOTV... all the things that make a local electoral candidate actually viable instead of just a plucky cypher on the ballot who just happens to believe in the right things.

Right now, let's be honest, the LA Greens can offer very very little to any potential candidate we're hoping to recruit. Maybe a $200 donation and our best wishes (and maybe--MAYBE--a tiny handful of us to knock on doors for a couple of hours on a couple of Saturdays). If I were a non-Green potential candidate, I wouldn't be very tempted to switch parties for THAT.

"As I said, I think our decentralization hurts us with candidate development. I hope to talk about this at our upcoming LA Greens retreat."

Well, I certainly don't think you're wrong about that, and I look forward to hearing more about it at the retreat.

Patrick Meighan
LA Greens

Roger, Gone Green said...

The discussion is slightly off track from the original post, but I have to say I strongly agree with Patrick's approach. In little ol' Pasadena we are up to five different Green commissioners, and a local CC board member. The town is pretty green (small "g") friendly, and one day soon we are likely to have a Green council member or even Mayor. (The mayor of Pasadena gets to ride in the Rose Parade -- the best reason I can think of for someone to run for the office.)

Lack of experience with governance, more than pure name recognition, is one of the biggest obstacles stopping Green candidates. Similar, but different is a lack of Green individuals recognized locally as effective members of government to run for higher office. Pure name recognition is third on the list, from my perspective.

Roger
Arroyo Seco Greens

Wes said...

Name recognition comes when you establish a track record as a participant in governing. In Morgan Hill, there is no active local (Santa Clara County Greens are focused between San Jose and Palo Alto and that is OK.) However, I have served on the Parks and Recreation Commission, helped open the relatively new Community and Cultural Center and have a periodic presence as an opinion contributor to the Morgan Hill Times, our 2 X Weekly newspaper. Those activities give me name recognition, at least to the point that, when meeting someone for the first time, I frequently am asked whe I my next column is coming out.

Local name recognition comes with local activism.

peterthottam said...

Patrick/Wes/Lisa,

Thanks for these thoughtful posts. I'm copying the Blog on this post so that others can have my candid take on the GP's November '06 results and strategies for '08 and beyond.

Briefly: Network, Fundraise and learn from global GP political successes (Germany, etc.).

NOVEMBER 7, 2006 - ELECTION RESULTS
On balance, I'm happy with the numbers in my own State Assembly run (first time run - 3,070 votes (2.4%)). The election was absolutely rewarding and I was able to use it -- as I originally intended -- as a platform to articulate a very strong antiwar message and to talk to Westside LA voters and residents about broader Green values/issues.

I'm hopeful that I achieved a meaningful level of consciousness building and awareness on the Westside in LA and throughout the 53rd District (overlaps substantially w/ Jane Harman's Congressional District).

The end vote numbers? Ted Lieu's campaign budget was $700,000 and he obtained 58.6% of the vote. Mary Jo Ford (Republican) spent about $200,000 and received 36.7% of the vote. I spent less than 1/2 of 1% of Ted's numbers -- under $4,000 -- and I received 3,070 votes -- 2.4% of the total votes made. The Green Party only has a registered base of .9% in the 53rd District. That means the 2.4% percentage of votes garnered was almost 3 times the percentaeg of registered Greens in the District! All of this despite the fact that P&F took away many votes that almost definitely would have gone Green if P&F had not run a candidate.

At the League of Women Voters Torrance Candidate Forum last October, Jim Smith (local P&F head and Venice labor/progessive organizer) told me that P&F would not have run a candidate in 2006 if they had known that the Greens were already running someone in the 53rd District. I figure that if P&F had not run Karl Abrams my vote count wouldr ealistically have been closer to 5,000 votes at about 4.5 to 5%. Further, Peace & Freedom (P&F) has been running a candidate regularly in the District for the past 30 years. This was the first time the Greens have run someone in the district since the early-1990s at which time 1.1% was our vote tally.

Finally, P&F fell under the required number of registered voters in February 2006, and was declared disqualified by California Secretary of State. However, unfortunately for me, citing previous instances in which parties not meeting the 'ballot qualification' criteria were still allowed to participate in primary elections, and the fact that there had not yet been a regular gubernatorial election since P&F regained its ballot status (and as such, the decision was premature), the decision to bar P&F from the June 2006 Primary was reversed after less than a week. C'est la vie (such is life).

*** ACTION ITEMS *** - 2007, 2008 AND BEYOND!

Global warming and deja vu/disappoint w/ the Dems should continue to work in our favor -- IF WE PLAN AND ACT ON THESE GIVEN CERTAINTIES. However, the CA Green party isn't proactively leveraging these points or mustering together an installed registered voter base. This is especially true w/r towards disenfranchised Latino and blue-collar workers. Voter Registration is critical.

I believe the Nov. 2006 numbers speak volumes about our what we need to do to enhance the Green Party's prospects for the future. If we're going to win elected offices in the District, we must adapt our message to local constiutents' various interests/concerns and court more registered Greens (e.g., through Decline to State and Independents). Clearly, we also need to -- systemtically -- increase the number of Registered Greens in the 53rd District and work on Get Out the Vote turnout efforts (for example through organized Absentee voting blocks).

I propose that all Green chapters agree -- at their next several meeting -- on an express goal of DOUBLING the current number of registered Greens by the end of 2008 (in the Westside Greens case that would be from 2,200 to 4,400).

The Westside Greens can shoot for 3,000 by the end of 2007 (i.e. 800 registered Greens to obtain next year). This will give the Party clear metrics to measure its progress by in advance of the 2008 election season which I think will be very useful. I think these numbers are achievable. What do others think? It is critical that we define these goals and create metrics to which we are accountable in our efforts to build the GP in CA.

CONCLUSION
I learned a great deal from my state assembly electoral run. It was an important building block in a resurgent Westside Greens presence (see www.westsidegreens.org for more info). Hopefully we can leverage the publicity/ads (LA Weekly, Argonaut) and 2.4% overall showing into getting our registered base up substantially over the next year. The campaign itself was instructive and transformative experience. GP general lessons echo with what Patrick and others have noted above.

Lets fundraise, establish local plans and build an installed GP voter base -- by Nov. 2008 -- that is DOUBLE current numbers.

Let's set these doubling of registered counts as express goals and use the Web to measure our progress towards achieving these goals.


Regarding my own next steps, I am continuing to reflect on the election, the process behind it and the insights gained during my several months of campaigning. I will evaluate my options regarding next steps once I've had a chance to step back and think about these things. Stay tuned.

Peace,

Peter Thottam ( (1) www.peterthottam.com/53, (2) www.peterthottam.com/53old and (3) www.peterthottam.com/2004old)

Patrick Meighan said...

I have great respect for Peter Thottam, as I donated to him and voted for him in the most recent election (I live in the 53rd). But, if our goal down here in Los Angeles is to achieve electoral viability at the local level, I gotta disagree with the strategy Peter advocates above.

A voter registration drive is great, and increased numbers of registered Green voters would certainly be valuable. But given that we're a party of volunteers with limited time and energy to allocate, I don't think that the best use of that limited time and energy lies in a campaign thats primary emphasis is the registration of new Green voters, as such. Instead, I believe that the best use of that limited time and energy lies in base-building, which is done by the Greens being active and involved in local, community-level issue activism (tackling the sorts of issues Saul Allinsky stresses: ones that are "specific, immediate and realizable").

Let's remember how successful Green candidates elsewhere in California (Santa Monica in the 90s, San Francisco yesterday, Pasadena today) have managed to attain electoral viability and even achieve elected office. It wasn't by registering a whole bunch of new Greens in their neighborhood and hoping that it would be sufficient to push 'em over the top. It was by being active in local issues, building networks with community leaders and pre-existing grassroots organizations, and using those connections as a base with which to make their electoral run (and augmenting that base with local Greens, such as were available).

In truth, Peter's strategy (if I understand it correctly) is pretty much exactly what the LA Greens have been trying for the 6 years that I've been involved (albiet with a call for the redoubling of our efforts in pursuit of same). With all respect, the strategy ain't working. It's time for local Greens (at least down here in L.A.) to try something different.

That's just my opinion, of course. I could be wrong. I frequently am.

Patrick Meighan
UCLA Class of '95

Lisa said...

Oh, btw, meant to add that Greens in several states have been meeting with Cynthia McKinney. Many want her to run for the Green Presidential nomination.

There was a great gathering of Los Angeles area Greens last month, about 35-40 of us asked her questions and listened to her, and she did same. My impression is that folks were energized and interested in her.

anne said...

Thanks, Thanks, Thanks

nrm00521 said...
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