Brief notes from Bev:
On Monday evening, January 2, the Progressive Democratic Caucus of WA - 46th District (PDCW46) started off 2006 with a very exciting meeting -- hosting a State Party Chair Candidates Forum. We were honored to have four (of what we understand to be six) State Party Chair candidates as our guests. These were:
- Mark Hintz - Chair of Snohomish County Democrats, former 44th LD Chair, Snohomish County Fire Commissioner
- Dwight Pelz -- former King County Councilman and WA State Senator, founder of WA Fair Share
- Laura Ruderman -- former 45th District State Legislator, 2004 Democratic Candidate for WA Secretary of State
- Phil Talmadge - former WA State Senator and Supreme Court Justice, appellate attorney - Talmadge Law Group, Founder - Talmadge Leadership Fund
After some 15 minutes of mingling and eating (folks brought great munchies!), we settled down into the program. Approximately 20 rapt listeners squeezed into Bev and Ken's living room. Each candidate was given three minutes to speak about themselves, followed by about 1.5 hours of Q&A. The meeting organizers had prepared a list of "starter" questions, and then we opened up the floor to all attendees. Questions covered a wide range of topics, strategic and tactical, including areas such as the relationship of the state and national party efforts, fiscal management, taking back the 8th CD, media strategy, and support of local candidates. My notes certainly aren't complete enough to give a detailed description of all the questions and answers -- but suffice it to say the candidates provided considerable information about themselves and their approach to the job throughout the course of the evening.
This was truly a grassroots event -- a way for 46th members to learn about the candidates and then lobby our state committee representatives in terms of who they should vote for! All four candidates are serious, thoughtful, and strong individuals, and we are fortunate to have the dilemma of choosing the best one.
I'd urge any and all interested in the Chair's race to attend the Unity Coalition's Candidates Forum on Sunday January 8, 2 PM, Carpenters Hall, 231 Burnett Ave. N., Renton (email or call Luis Moscoso with questions -  or 425-776-9061).
Notes from Barbara, I truly appreciate Bev's notes as she got all the info on the candidates. I tried to keep up with writing the questions and the answers. I got a little foggy towards the end as the fever I had decided to come on a little stronger. If anyone would like to make additions or delitions, please feel free. This is a group effort.
PDCW-46 Minutes 1/2/06 In attendance: Bev Marcus, Ken Pick, Chad Lupkes, Alyssa Plut, Gail Chiarro, Dana Senior-O’Day & Husband, Sylvia Havens, Martha Dye Whelan, Dave (Kathryn Gardow’s husband), Bill Phillips, Justin Simmons, (I don't think I got everyone, please add other names. thx)
46th Dems Exec Board people – Janet Miller, John Webber
Candidates: Phil Talmadge, Mark Hintz, Dwight Pelz, Laura Ruderman
The guests were given a few minutes to introduce themselves.
Phil Talmadge – from the 34th LD. Ran for Governor in 2004 but dropped out because of health reasons (all better now). He wants to do some serious party building, especially in Eastern Washington. Says the party doesn’t have enough grassroots communications.
Mark Hintz – Since 1996 he has worked in the Snohomish 39th district. Worked as Party Chair in Snohomish. Turned the County Council around to Democrat. He wants to change the paradigm and help support candidates (was a strong Howard Dean supporter).”Who are the candidates in YOUR area we need to support?” He is endorsed by Greg Rodriquez and feels that he is the “Voice of the People.”
Dwight Pelz – he has served 30 years in state politics. He wants to be ½ organizer and ½ leader. He wants to empower the grass roots. He is a strong fund raiser and is supported by major fund givers. He wants to be able to take a good message to the other side of the mountain.
Laura Ruderman – Served 6 years in the State Legislature. Was the third democrat elected in the 45th (republican) district. In 2002, she recruited and mentored two more dems in the 41st and the 48th (did these get elected? I didn’t catch that). She is from the Eastern side of the mountain and know how to talk values to the people over there. She knows how to bring in funds (raised over $600,00 for Secy of State race). She is very fiscally responsible. She is also a Microsoftie.
The first question was from Gail. How do you view the relationship between the State party organization and the counties in general, and specifically, do you see it as the responsibility of the state party to direct some cash flow to King County as the premier county in the state for Democratic votes?
Laura felt that supporting the Legislative District Organizations would strengthen the County Parties.
Dwight discussed his plans for the budget for the coming years – 5 mil for 2006, 1 mil for 2007 and 10 mil for 2008. He is aware of debt that needs to be taken care of. Feels that the LD via the PCO is where the strength of the party lies and that there needs to be a great deal of funding for Eastside groups.
Mark – says he is aware of a $200,000 per month budget. There is no salary in Snohomish County for their chair. Needs to be fundraisers with LDs and the funds need to flow both ways. He doesn’t want to see LDs or Chairs that say, “this is what we’ll do for you.”, but wants to involve the people. Wants to do interactive fundraising.
Phil – Absolutely not. It is the obligation of the local parties as there won’t be resources at the state level. We need to focus on the message. We can do technical stuff, but we need to develop a message to make it possible for other organizations to raise their own money.
Question 2 (Bev) - How do you plan to take back the 8th CD?
Dwight – Sees his roll to recruit candidates. Need to have a good process and we need a vocal, irascible candidate.
Mark – Go to the LD’s and talk to the people to see who THEY want. He wants Dems – no anointees. Go into the district and find out who wants to run, who is strong and do it done on a local level.
Laura – Wants the chair to select several and then turn over to the people to choose. She is most concerned about ANWR and Reichart.
Phil - State Chair needs to listen to locals at all levels. The State party needs to respect Reichart. He can be beat, but it will be hard. We have to run on a state level, not a national level – an 8th District driven campaign.
Question 3 (Dana) How can Washington Democrats best help the party on a national level to help regain control of the US government?
Laura – The Dems have been scared the last couple of times. We must model “Not being scared!” We have to focus on values because it is the right thing to do. We need to focus on the winning back the Eastern/Central parts of WA and they need to hear VALUES/
Mark – We need a strong State/Local party. He wants to focus on state issues and they will extend to the business of the nation.
Dwight – Does not agree with Mark at all. First of all, we have to re-elect Maria. What are we doing to fight against the Radical Right Wing? We have to run strong candidates against Republicans.
Phil – Agrees with Dwight in that we have to re-elect Maria, but says that we have to have a strategic vision so that we don’t have to fight the Radical Right Wing. Says McGavin has to cut his ties with Bush
Question 4 (Sylvia) What resources or determination do we have to help a Democrat in office who strays from our basic beliefs and the party platform in flagrant ways?
Phil – He cited the Bankruptcy Bill as an example pointing out that we have to engage our officials. He suggested emails, phone calls, etc. Correspond with your elected officials and the State Chairman as well as local people.
Mark – Agrees with Phil. Focus on the positive. Use peer pressure, use leverage and deal with problems where we can.
Dwight – He won’t lead with the platform. We need to talk on values as needed. The State party supplies the method by which grassroots can communicate with the Federal level. We also have to identify rogues. “Don’t shoot at the prince unless you think you can hit them.”
Laura – We need a forum for engagement. The platform needs to be a living document to bring elected officials and grassroots together and not used as a hammer.
Sara Jane asked if they were willing to ask candidates to read the party platform with the intent of learning what is in it.
Phil – Yes Mark – Yes Dwight – Yes, it is an appropriate role for the State Chair and the LD level Laura – Brief the candidates on the platform and see where there are differences. Find out what their values are and how they fit into the platform.
What about local elections, the non partisan positions. What about supporting smaller campaigns?
Phil – We have to have a long bench and support the smaller races. Have to teach them how to run a campaign, standardized information can be distributed.
Mark. Gave history on his climb through various smaller positions. Wants to see that replicated throughout the LDs The Chair has to help the LD support the smaller positions.
Dwight – We need a strategy of grooming candidates. State party supplies resources, no necessarily cash. Training opportunities with a wide range of curricula and data files.
Laura supports having three long range plans to support the non partisan offices, one for Eastern Washington, one for Central Washington and one for Rural Western Washington. And, locally, to provide mentors. Progressive majority, use allies.
Martha – Maria’s staff insulates her from her constituents and others that might have an influence on her. How do you engage her?
Laura – Maria is a tough, smart Senator. She speaks truth to power. You need to do one on one when you can.
Dwight – Maria has made a decision not to change her position on the war vote. You need to communicate your utter disapproval on that decision. Support her campaign without bringing up the War issue.
Mark – Pretty much sidestepped the question and talked about how he would address other candidates. He has set up programs so that candidates will come and talk on LD levels (both Maria and Gregoire)
Phil – Talk Values. You can be candid and still bet elected. The contention seems to be between Maria and the Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party.
What are your strategies for working out of accountability traps?
Phil – Engage the media – get the message out consistently, clearly, constantly. Both in print and electronically. Everyone has to carry the message as far and wide as possible.
Mark – Articulate the message. Make sure your staff can do it also. Blog! Engage the press.
Dwight – Look at the Middle Class. The Radical Right Wing is grabbing all the wealth. It is rude to talk about class, but it is ok to wage war on class. Get the middle class to understand what the Radical Right Wing is doing.
Laura – We have to have a message and know where to put it. Talk Values, not Labels. Hold reporters accountable. Used the article highlighting Greg R. sexual orientation as an example.
How would you run the party fiscally?
Laura – Paul Micromanaged. It is her policy to hire the best possible people and let them do their job.
Dwight – Disagrees with that. Says he would study the finances for 100 hours and learn every part of it then would hire someone to handle it. (I know, it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what he said)
Mark - Same philosophy as Laura. The less management, the better.
Phil – Centralized management, same as Laura. Do a baseline audit of the books. He wouldn’t take a salary, he’d use the money to hire the best people.
Janet’s question – What is your commitment to his one year position. Long term – day to day – how accessible will you be traveling around the state?
Phil – Profound commitment, however, he will keep his law practice. He has turned a Republican district into a Democratic district. He has a large capacity for work. Will be accessible and will travel around the state. He wants to appeal to the State, the US and the 9th District Courts.
Mark will close down his business as he feels this is a full time position. He will travel the state looking for good staff to recruit and to raise funds.
Dwight reiterated his past work history (30 years in public service – 15 organizing and 15 in leadership). He would work hard, inspire staff and convince the “usual allies” that he can do the job.
Laura will quit her job so that she can do this as a full time commitment. She has no husband so she can go “Peddle to the metal”. She will ask for lots of feedback and have lots of oversight.
Folks, from here on out, my fever kinda took over and I didn’t get good notes. If you can help out, please do. I have some answers, but don’t seem to have all the questions. Thanks
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Phil – Something about the party has lost it’s soul.
Laura – It is the responsibility of us all to make the world a better place.
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Phil Process of engagement, heath care, environment, etc, etc,
Mark literally said “Ditto”, then added more.
Dwight – Our country has become uncaring. He wants to turn it around.
Laura - Says it marketing. Repeat the philosophy over and over, talk about values. Have a consistent message.
Chad’s question about using others ideas and not becoming a one person show.
Dwight – The job is to build the party
Laura – No it is not a one woman show. Yes, she will engage other candidates to get their ideas.
Chad clarified his question to ask whether the candidates would be willing to utilize the skills and resources offered by the other candidates if they win. All four candidates said they would be willing to do this.