Jerry Meek, head of the North Carolina Democratic Party, called me this afternoon to discuss my response to his post on his BlueNC blog. We've corresponded and talked several times in the past, and I think he's doing an outstanding job.
In my response I had asked another blogger to substantiate his claim that
The state party has a wealth of resources, despite what some may tell you....
I had read that comment as accusing the NCDP of having lots of money and not sharing it, and Jerry wanted to confirm that the state party does indeed have a wealth of resources that they want to share with county parties.
Jerry said that the NCDP is now making available a tremendous amount of data that had previously been hard to get at the county level. Counties can now get:
- donor lists
- campaign targetting data
- benchmark data. This is new data that the NCDP has been compiling. It enables county parties to compare their efforts to other counties in areas such as fundraising, spending, the cost of headquarters, newsletters, etc. This data can be used to set goals with a view of what is possible in NC. He told me that he had just send fundraising data to Jack Sanders, chairman of the OCDP.
The NCDP has hired a couple of interns to look at this data, which counties should submit by August 15th. One of the things that they plan to do with this data is to compile a manual of best practices.
The NCDP has 3 full-time regional political directors. The DNC pays their salaries and healthcare (Thank you, Howard Dean, for your 50-state strategy!). The NCDP pays their mileage, and they have been on the road a lot (in my comment to Jerry's blog, I mentioned meeting one of them, who helped our county's database efforts).
Jerry said that the NCDP's annual budget is $1.6M and that he has to do constant fundraising. I mentioned the NCDP's "50-50 Partnership" program, which I contribute to monthly. I was a bit puzzled that no one at the OCDP knows about my contributions. He explained that the NCDP sends contributions to the county parties but doesn't currently bother to provide names. Since most county parties don't have the ability to process credit cards, this program is actually a service provided by the NCDP, which pays the processing fees. Jerry said that this program hasn't taken off particulary well, in part due to county party scepticism (I'm not sure why). If you are interested in local politics, I urge you to sign up for this program.
The best part of listening to Jerry Meek is that he always has terrific concrete ideas to share.
One idea that I loved is happening in Western Carolina, where little "Burma Shave" signs promoting the party are put up regularly in 400 locations. At the same time, a group of 150 activists get a set of talking points to use to write letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, etc.
Another idea that he told me about is from Watauga County, which he says is a prime example of a year-round party. This party has weekly team canvassing year-round! Every weekend a team - I think he said that they have at least 10 people and usually more - goes to a neighborhood and knock on the doors of all voters to talk about politics. He believes that it was this effort that swept out all Republicans county commissioners in 2004 (I might have this a bit wrong - so don't quote me here).
For those of us who want to work locally, I can't think of a more effective project.