We can’t fix every mistake since 1972 at this one meeting

So this is where a regional Ohio Democratic Party organizer, a regional OFA organizer, and some area county Democratic Party leaders have a meeting:

The Ohio Democratic Party and OFA came to us for two reasons. First, they want local information so the campaigns can tie the national policy and message to local issues. An example of this would be starting with something broad like “rural health care issues and the Affordable Care Act” and then we would help tailor that to three Ohio counties. The CEO of the hospital and medical group here tells the local newspaper constantly that he has difficulty recruiting and retaining physicians in our rural area. Everyone here knows that we have trouble both recruiting and retaining doctors. The local focus then would be to hit those parts of the PPACA that provide incentives for physicians to practice in rural areas. Another example would be, broadly, nationally, “manufacturing and trade rule enforcement.” We have a company here that produces tires. Some of the trade enforcement actions that Obama has taken will benefit that specific tire maker.

Second, they wanted to offer us help with our local Democratic candidates, whether those candidates are statehouse or all the way down to a county commissioner or city council member. As I have mentioned here before I am helping a statehouse candidate with his race. If we were to create or purchase campaign literature for that local candidate the larger ODP/OFA operation would “carry” that lit for us if they’re canvassing in the local candidate’s district or county or town. That’s huge for us because we have nowhere near the sort of blanket coverage and volunteer army that the state and national campaigns have. This sort of coordination is more complicated than I’ve indicated here because there are reporting rules and procedures that have to be followed when federal and state and local campaigns share resources in any manner, but I won’t bore you with the campaign finance reporting side.

It was a really productive two hour meeting, but it could have been an equally productive one hour meeting if some at the table had resisted the urge to play national strategist and/or pundit. I’m sympathetic to this, everyone likes to play national campaign manager, and I’ve certainly been guilty of it myself, but that isn’t what we were there for. They didn’t come for us to tell them what one or another media personality said on Morning Joe and how the national campaign should respond to that, they came to ask us what we’re hearing from the people here. They already know what’s said on Morning Joe. What they don’t know is what people are saying here. These reps from ODP and OFA aren’t managers or strategists at the national level anyway, they’re organizers at the county and state level. They couldn’t act on our advice on national strategy even if they wanted to. Obviously, I love to talk politics and I genuinely like a lot of the local Democrats, but we can (and do) have those sorts of broad hypothetical discussions ourselves all the time. I don’t know why we’d spend an hour on “Obama should….” when we have two people in front of us who want specific and local insight and in return are offering specific and local help.

During the meeting the heat broke and we had a (welcome!) downpour, and it was so cool and fresh when the rain stopped that I walked around the maybe 10 block long city-center area. There is no Romney office and the only Romney “presence” I saw was a Romney sign in the window of a place that sells knitting and embroidery supplies. The Obama office pictured below been open since April.

Fire Walker Chronicles: Release The Hound

Big Dog comin’, yo.  Big Dog!  Greg Sargent:

Former President Bill Clinton has decided to go to Wisconsin to campaign against Scott Walker in the final days of the battle over whether to recall the Wisconsin Governor, a move that could give a boost to the anti-Walker forces in a campaign that will depend heavily on who turns out to vote, a source familiar with Clinton’s plans confirms to me.

As late as yesterday afternoon, it was still not certain whether Clinton would go to Wisconsin. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in a meeting with Democrats, seemed to suggest that he was trying to determine whether he would go. But neither the DNC nor Clinton’s camp would confirm whether it was going to happen, and Democrats cautioned that Clinton had not made up his mind.

But now he will go to Wisconsin, the source confirms.

Democrats badly want Clinton to campaign in Wisconsin for Tom Barrett, and had lobbied him heavily for weeks. But Clinton remained undecided until today.

That’s…awful nice of you, Mr. The Dog.  Magnanimous, even.

Between DWS stepping it in over the weekend and Bill here finally deigning to drag himself up to the Fox River Valley for some A&W mini corndogs and a Culver’s butterburger or two, I’m convinced that the maximum amount of voter-turning-out firepower may not have have been most judiciously applied in the case of beating the Kochsuckers on Tuesday.

Still, the ramparts are finally being manned.  I just hope it’s enough.

On Wisconsin.

Fear (And Loathing) Of Commitment

Breaking news apparently:  Registered Democrats who voted against Barack Obama in 2008 in blood-red southern states are A) still registered Democrats, B) still in blood-red states, and C) still voting against the guy.

Four in ten Democratic voters chose someone other than President Obama on Tuesday in primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky.

In Arkansas, John Wolfe — a perennial, long-shot candidate — took 41 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, with 71 percent of precincts reporting. Obama came in just under 60 percent. The Associated Press did not call the race for Obama until close to midnight.

And in Kentucky, 42 percent of Democrats chose “uncommitted” rather than cast a vote for the incumbent president. Obama took 58 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

With turnout low, Obama did get more total votes than presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who won his primary with almost 67 percent of the vote. Obama had more than 118,600 votes to about 117,100 for Romney.

Obama’s nomination for a second term by the Democratic Party has never been in danger. But the large number of defections is bad optics for Obama, highlighting widespread discontent with his administration among Democrats who come from conservative states.

Now, here’s the problem:  Some 80,000 plus voters here in Kentucky yesterday voted for “uncommitted” rather than the President.  You can make all the excuses about policy, about the economy, about whatever you want, but the county map shows that the President lost 66 of 120 counties, and he lost every single one of the rural counties in the east (south and east of Wolfe County) and all but McCracken County in the rural west, and outside of Boone, Kenton and Campbell he lost all the northern ones outside the Cincy suburbs.

Folks, I’ve lived here.  There’s a reason why a state of majority registered Democratic voters gave John McCain the win here by 15 points in 2008.  Hillary Clinton won here by thirty-five points four years ago.  The headline really should read “Barack Obama becomes first African-American to win something resembling a statewide race in Kentucky”.  Period.  It’s the truth. It hasn’t happened before, not even at the primary level.  Hell, last night was progress.  The 57% he got last night was a vast improvement compared to the 30% he got in 2008, people.  It was historic.

Here’s a hint as to why:  it wasn’t the “Obama administration policies” in 2008 any more than it was here in 2012.  Mitt Romney got about the same number of votes that the President did in his primary, and Dems outnumber Republicans here about 60-40%.  Romney will probably win here by 20 points, easy.  I know it’s bad here for Dems in the Bluegrass State, but this is pretty awful.  Under no illusions that Obama had a chance, but damn, people.  Pay attention, will you?  It’s freakin’ KentuckyBooMan points out the obvious (politely):

There’s no reason to believe that a white presidential candidate wouldn’t immediately compete for the electoral votes of these states. Arkansas and West Virginia are both traditionally Democratic states, while Kentucky is more of a swing-state. What last night’s results show is that the president’s problems in Appalachia stem less from any Republican strength than from his weakness there among white Democrats. Since it is unlikely that the next Democratic presidential contender will be black, it’s also unlikely that the Republicans can rely on these Appalachian states to remain solidly in their corner.

Oh, and in KY-4 it will indeed be Bill Adkins taking on Thomas Massie.  Trivia:  Massie campaign HQ is in the center of Florence, next to the fire station and the big new shiny Scientology church.  Heh.

Only George Tierney, Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina can possibly read these political tea leaves, so I leave it in his capable hands.

Feeling Randy In The Fourth

Kentucky’s primaries are today and the big story is here in my home district of KY-4, where GOP Rep. Geoff Davis is retiring.  Sen. Rand Paul has stepped into the race, backing the Tea Party nutjob du jour around here, Thomas Massie, in the last several weeks.  The entrance of Paul’s influence into the race all but assures Massie will win in a landslide out of the pack of seven Republicans running.  Joe Sonka:

Either Thomas Massie now wins the race easily, or he loses and shows that support for the rEVOLution among the Kentucky GOP is starting to vanish. We’re betting on the former.

Here’s the question I’m more intrigued by: Did Master McConnell give Paul permission to make this ad (granting an exemption due to Old Man Bunning calling out Rand Paul as a failure), or is he going rogue? And if he’s going rogue, will McConnell retaliate, and how? And will there be woodchippers involved?

I don’t know about woodchippers, but I do know that Rand’s dad getting out of the race sure spared his son from having to make too many awkward answers to the “Romney vs Paul” question with Old Age Mutant Nimrod Turtle Mitch McConnell looking on.  Meanwhile, this is yet another race where Citizens United SuperPACs have dropped seven figures to assure a win.

Bill Adkins, the Democratic favorite in his head-to-head primary versus Greg Frank, has raised…about $14,000.  It’s a shame too, because Bill Adkins is that rarest of breeds:  A Kentucky Democrat who isn’t running screaming from President Obama.

Bill Adkins, one of two Democrats running in the 4th Congressional District, said he believes government-payer health care system can best tackle the inefficiencies and problems and that’s the way to preserve Medicare.

“Single payer is my preference. I think that the compromise that is the buy-the-insurance mandate is an incremental move,” Adkins said (7:00).

He also said he would consider one of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s proposals — to decrease the level of benefits for seniors with the highest incomes, known as means testing.

Adkins, a Williamstown lawyer and the Grant County Democratic Party Chairman, said he decided to get into the 4th District race because he said he wanted to make sure there was a full discussion of the issues.

“We needed a Democratic presence in this race,” he said.

Yeah, that’s right, a Kentucky Democrat who acts like a real gorram Democrat.  Single payer.  I love this guy.  The problem is after redistricting, KY-4 has gone from fairly conservative to blood red.  Adkins is going to need a miracle against Massie if the scene plays out today as I suspect.

Not completely giving up on Adkins either.  He’s definitely one of the folks we need in Congress.

I Don’t Get Union Political Strategy

When doing some research for my local race blog, I noticed that the Republican candidate for Congress got a $10K donation from the Bricklayers’ Union, the maximum allowed by law. This contribution happened even though her opponent, Louise Slaughter, has received over $100K this cycle from unions, which shows who most unions think will be on their side.

I think I might understand the local politics of this donation, since the candidate, County Executive Maggie Brooks, is a pretty reliable union supporter, as are many Republican office holders in New York. But, nationally, and in states like Wisconsin where there was at least a peaceful accommodation between Republicans and unions, this isn’t the case. It’s been obvious since the Gingrich days that union bashing is a cornerstone of Republican politics, and that any union supporting a Republican for federal office is slitting its own throat. Yet I still see local unions giving sizable donations to federal candidates.

Is this just a New York thing? I’ve never been a union member, but why in the hell would you want to pay dues to an organization that does something this boneheaded?