Beltway Happenings
Nov. 9, 2005--Democratic National Committee chairman Gov. Howard Dean and Democratic Governors' Association chair Gov. Bill Richardson (NM) hailed results of the November 8 off-year elections in which voters elected Democratic governors in Virginia and New Jersey.  The two Democratic leaders saw the wins as harbinger of things to come in 2006 and 2008.

Dean stated, "My belief is we had strong and honest candidates, who enunciated strong values, with a strong agenda and they weren't afraid to go everywhere in their states, particularly in Virginia, to ask for the vote, which is exactly what our formula's going to be in 2006, and then again in '07 and '08."  Dean further said, "I do think that as we turn our eyes towards 2006, when we have a lot of governors up and a lot of senators and congresspeople that we want to duplicate what we did last night.  We want to be everywhere.  We want like Tim Kaine, to talk about our faith; if we're not comfortable talking about our faith, then talk about our moral values.  We need to ask for every vote, and we will be in every state.  As you know we now have staff members on the ground paid for by the DNC in virtually every state in the country.  That will continue.  We started it in '05; that will continue through '08." 

Richardson started his remarks by thanking the DNC for "putting in $5.1 million in the Virginia race and a sizable amount in New Jersey."  "The skies in America are bluer today because the Democrats won," Richardson declared.  Richardson said, "The Democratic Party is back.  This election is a good omen for '06 and '08.  We won in a red state, Virginia, and we won in an independent state New Jersey."  Further, he stated, "This election certified that the center of gravity of the Democratic Party are the Democratic governors because we show we can win in red states.  There are 22 Democratic governors--12 of those are elected in red states like Virginia, like Oklahoma, like Montana..."  Richardson said that Hispanics and African-Americans in both states had turned out in high percentages for the Democratic candidates.  "That basically means that the Democratic Party is coming home," he said. 

Asked whether it was realistic for the Democrats to gain control of the House and Senate in 2006, Dean responded:
"I think it's absolutely realistic for us to take control of both the House and the Senate next year, and I think most of you know me well enough to know that I wouldn't say so if I didn't think so, but I do.  I don't even think it's such a long shot anymore.  I think people want fundamental change in America, and that's what we're going to offer them.

"In order to win, I think we're going to have to look to the Kaine campaign.  Virginia, as most people think of it is a Republican state, but the truth is there aren't any red states and blue states, they're all purple states, and we need to speak to the hearts of the people in these states... 

"We need to speak to the hearts and minds of the American people, which means we need to put our values first.  Our principal message cannot be a long list of issues.  We're happy to discuss issues with you.  That's what Democrats always do.  Most Americans agree with us, whether they're in red states or blue states, with our val-- with our principles.  What they don't know is what our values are.  Our values are very basic.  We stand for compassion, we stand for toughness, we stand for fiscal responsibility, and we stand for including everybody in one America.  That's what we're going to stand for.  We want to make it possible for families to raise moral children in a difficult time..."

Gov. Richardson likewise expressed optimism about Governors' races in 2006:

"California's governor's race is now in play.  It really wasn't before, but I think with the results, it's in play.  We expect, the Democratic governors, with 22 out of 50, we expect to maybe get a majority in '06, maybe 26 to 24.  And we see the potential of some major pickups, and in fact our strongest candidates are in red states.  So we're going to states like Massachusetts, Maryland, New York ... Florida ... Ohio ... Arkansas."

Richardson and Dean also provided some details on the Democratic efforts in Virginia and New Jersey:

Richardson: "The Democratic Governors' Association put in $3 million in both races.  We coordinated with the DNC.  We had close to 200 workers in both states.  So it really was a combined effort.  Gov. Dean is bringing all the resources of the party together to not just get the vote out, but to identify voters, to have the party being built up at the grassroots neighborhood level again..."

Dean: "We did a lot of very sophisticated voter outreach in Virginia.  In fact I'll just be--make no bones about it, we took Karl Rove's playbook.  He did a lot of things in 2001 to get ready for '04 that we did too.  We did a lot of different things in Virginia and we're measuring them all, and it's going to take us some time to analyze the data.  Mostly, we did a lot of door-to-door canvassing ,on the ground grassroots get-out-the vote stuff.  We used different techniques and different samples and now we're simply going to go back and measure which is the most successful way to get those populations out."

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Copyright © 2005  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action