I recently participated in a Democratic National Committee conference call with Gov. Tim Kaine, DNC chair. As one of your five elected national committeepersons, I wanted to share the contents of that call:
Gov. Kaine stated what his three goals as chair of the DNC are:
1) Achieve/promote President Obama's agenda
2) Activate the grassroots, embodied in Organizing for America (OFA)
3) Promote state parties, primarily through the state partnership program (aka 50 State Strategy) and the VAN (the voter tracking software most people use).
His short term goals/updates were:
1) Fundraising: President Obama and Vice President Biden have been active, and POTUS has participated in 2 small/1 big fundraising events. The GOP outraised us in the first quarter, as they are wont to do, but our second quarter looked very good, though the GOP's numbers had not come in at that times.
2) Midterm elections: Gov. Kaine spoke about the 2009 gubernatorial elections in Virginia (election of Creigh Deeds) and New Jersey (re-election of Gov. Corzine). He was optimistic, but thought both races would still be tough and that the GOP would obviously be casting these elections as a referendum on the policies of President Obama (and certainly Gov. Kaine has a particular interest in the Va. race, since that would be his successor!).
Gov. Kaine also looked toward 2010, when certainly many senatorial(!), gubernatorial, and congressional races will be in play. But he also placed emphasis on the state legislative races since the parties who control the state legislatures as a result of the 2010 elections will be in the position of redistricting.
3) POTUS agenda: The Sotomayor confirmation hearings begin this week, and Gov. Kaine, who is fluent in Spanish, has been working with Spanish-speaking media/organizations and others in supporting the president's nomination of Judge Sotomayor. He believed that there should not be any surprises, but would still be prepared in case the R's try to pull anything.
He discussed the recent "green energy" bill that passed the House and stated that it would most likely linger in the Senate while the health care bill took center stage. He mentioned the Health Care Action Center on the OFA website.
Gov. Kaine also discussed the DNC Change Committee which is in charge of examining the presidential primary/caucus system. The committee, comprised of DNC members, will be looking at the time of primaries (obviously they keep creeping up earlier; also trying to synchronize the GOP/Dem primaries so states aren't having to pay for two separate election days), the role/number of superdelegates, and the caucus system. The committee has met and will meet again, and will most likely have a report for the fall DNC meeting.
That does it for the conference call. I would like to mention that the Democratic National Committee will be meeting September 10-12 in Austin, TX. Texas was selected as the site of our meeting to show that we are targeting this "red" state. I remember at my second DNC meeting, after the Inauguration, then-DNC Chair Howard Dean said that the elections he was most proud of in 2008 were the ones in states like Texas and Alaska where Democrats A) showed up and B) increased their voting performance. Another example was having the 2008 DNC Convention in swing state/red state Colorado. So the Democratic Party is not afraid of competing outside the East Coast/West Coast.
But back to the fall meeting: Even though I've been to two DNC "meetings" (one right after convention and the other right after the Inauguration), this will be the first "real" meeting of the DNC that I'll be attending as your DNC national committeeman. Looking at the agenda I've been mailed, this is what the week roughly looks like:
Thursday, 9/10: Committees meetings/New Member briefings (that will be me!)
Friday, 9/11: Community service project to memorialize 9/11 (the Youth Council, which is the "Young" caucus, will be coordinating this), various caucus meetings, and a general session. The only caucuses I'm a part of (being the WASP I am) is the Youth Council and the Southern Caucus (each region has a caucus).
Saturday, 9/12: Meetings of non-caucus organizations...for instance, I'll be attending the Veterans and Military Families Council.
As to the more specific business we will be conducting...about the only things I'm aware of now is electing 75 DNC at-large members and also ratifying Chair Kaine's selections for the standing committees (I'm trying to be a candidate for the Rules & Bylaw Committee...send in your letters of support to the DNC ;)). But as more information comes in, I'll let you know.
People often ask me what exactly DNC members do...and, heck, I'm still figuring it out to a certain extent! But I think it's helpful to think of us as a corporate board of directors (or any board, really). Chair Kaine, the other elected DNC officers, and the DNC staff do most of the work, but we (DNC members) have the ability to shape the organization and ensure that the national party is going in the right direction. It's also a great opportunity to network with Democrats across the nation. Personally, I'm always curious how other state parties operate, so I'm looking forward to a chance to learn more about how other Democrats work.
North Carolina's DNC delegation is comprised of our five elected members, the NCDP Chair, and the NCDP 1st Vice Chair, though there is one at-large member who is included in the NC delegation, as well as the NCDP Executive Director who is included, more or less.
That's about it. Like I said, I'll certainly share more information as the time comes. Now I'm off to continue studying for the July 28-29 North Carolina Bar Exam, so I apologize if I don't get a chance to return any comments/answer any questions quickly. If you have anything specific, just e-mail me and I'll get to it...eventually. Though I guess I can't complain too much about multitasking when thinking about Tim Kaine...DNC chair and governor of Va! Oh well, at least I don't have to wear a suit to the bar exam like those crazy Virginians do...