Sunday, March 30, 2008

Money + passion = election victories

An e-mail this week from John Millin, chair of the Wyoming Democratic Party, contained some good news about fund-raising:

I am pleased to report that our post-caucus online fundraising campaign has netted more than $3,000, far exceeding our goal of $2,500. With the matching funds from one of our very generous donors, that means you have effectively raised upwards of $6,000 for the Wyoming Democratic Party in just two weeks!

At last Tuesday's meeting of the Laramie County Democrats, treasurer Bobby Marcum announced a bank balance of more than $6,000. A couple thou came from the LarCoDems' open house in February; another couple thou came from passing the hat at the March 8 Laramie County caucuses. It's the most we've had in the bank since I joined this organization four years ago. We still are short of the goal of $10,000 we set for this election cycle.

Also on Tuesday, the Laramie County Grassroots Coalition announced a bank balance of almost $1,500. This came mostly from the coalition's membership table at the caucus. My wife Chris and I both renewed our annual membership, which contributed to the total.

So what are we going to do with all this dough? The state party has a convention to fund and campaigns to support. All three of Wyoming's congressional seats are up for grabs in 2008. Gary Trauner's running for the U.S. House and Nick Carter and Chris Rothfuss are running for the U.S. Senate against, respectively, Dr. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi. The Democratic National Committee is shoveling money into the state, but the Wyoming Democrats have to do its share. When Wyoming gets the attention of the Democratic Party, you know that Dr. John Dean's 50-state strategy exists and is working. Will we be able to negate the WyoRepubs' traditional 2-1 advantage to do so? Keep your fingers crossed.

And -- by God -- work your asses off. Wyoming Democrats are energized by the Obama and Clinton camps and the success of the March 8 caucuses. Volunteers and money are rolling in. But after that comes the boring, hard work. Not much glamour in walking neighborhoods and dialing call-after-call and speaking to answering machines and disinterested citizenry. It's amazing, really, how much effort it takes be an informed citizen of a democracy. Not only do you have to work hard to get your candidates elected, you have to keep up with the issues. How many of you out there have read your candidate's platforms? Let's see a show of hands. C'mon now, don't be shy. There's a few of you, mostly wonky bloggers. You have to pay attention. Watching CNN News for an hour each day does not qualify as paying attention. If you're watching Fox News (so-called) for an hour each day, your brain cells are atrophying at an alarming rate.

You also have to pay attention to the voting process. On the day of the March 8 caucuses, 45 people were rebuffed at the registration table and ended up challenging it. When all these were checked by the county clerk, only three had legitimate complaints. The rest, according to LarCoDems chair Mike Bell, were either registered Republicans or Democrats, or they hadn't voted recently and were purged from the rolls. It's difficult to believe that someone wouldn't know whether they were registered as a Republican or Democrat. Wyoming had liberal registration laws, allowing people to show up at the polls on election day and change their registration. This usually is applicable only during primaries. But it's possible that some Dems changed their registration in 2006 to vote against Repub Barbara Cubin and forgot to change back. I think I'd remember if I was registered as an "R." I would be having bad dreams nightly. I would feel an irrational need to disparage the poor and privatize Social Security. My finger would automatically click on the TV remove to Fox Noise.

I other words, I'd know if I was a D or R or I or just not interested.

To stay involved, you have to make sure you're registered appropriately and know the rules. Dems are challenged to get involved on the precinct level as committeemen/women. Any voter can be a poll watcher on election day or work as a judge (judges get paid!). You can run for office. If you're interested in any of these things, you might want to check out the "Voice Your Vote" Day on Monday, April 21, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the day's sessions are open to all and will address a variety of issues about local and national elections.

As my old pal Iowa Bob used to say in John Irving's Hotel New Hampshire: "Get obsessed and stay obsessed." He was talking specifically about wrestling, but it can apply to politics and nearly anything else.

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