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THE Ave Scene: Candidate for Chair of State Dems Campaigns

A hard question for state chair candidates

Here’s what he wrote:
Hi Don,
Thank you for the question.  How we ensure that our  elected officials fulfill the promises they make by running as a  Democrat is a major issue we now face. The state party should help to  build the local party organizations so that they can elect  representatives that reflect their values.  Democracy is local. As  chair, I would fight against the concentration of decision making power, because dictating from the top-down has harmed progressive advancement.
With regards to Rodney Tom it is important to note that in  2002, he was elected to the state House of Representatives as a  Republican and was reelected in 2004, edging out Democratic Party  challenger Debi Golden. On March 14, 2006, Tom announced that he was  switching to the Democratic Party which was quite controversial because  his 2004 Democratic opponent, Debi Golden, had announced that she was running again. In truth, it was the state  party that convinced Tom to change to the Democratic Party and Debi was  forced out of the race because the state party decided to back their new choice, Rodney Tom. The situation in the 48th is the perfect example of the top-down rule in politics. I do not stand for that.
It was the Democratic Party that chose to support Rodney Tom and I believe it  was our loses in 2010 that allowed for the takeover of the senate. We  took our eye off the ball and lost very tight races. I think the power  that ran the party at the time did not see those races as important  since they thought we’d still have the majority. They were wrong.
How the party focuses our resources concerns me greatly and is the  reason why I am running for chair. We have a party infrastructure  concentrated in King County.  It’s the source of much of the heavy  fundraising efforts as well as many of our elected leaders, and with  1/3rd of the state’s voters it has a huge role to play in electing state wide candidates like our Governor.  We can’t discount its importance.   But at the same time we have to recognize that not everyone lives in  Seattle or King County.  We need to be able to engage voters and elect  Democrats in every county, every district.   I don’t believe that  Seattle should have a monopoly on campaign strategy or candidate  recruitment.  The best way to build a state level party is by building  the local parties, encourage local activists, train local talent and  consultants and live up to the idea of both “more” Democrats and  “better” Democrats.
We need to be up front with reasonable  and enforceable standards that provide local party oversight to the  state party providing infrastructure and campaign assistance to  candidates running in those local districts.  The HDCC and SDCC have  huge roles to play in supporting candidates that can keep and grow our  majorities in the state House and Senate.  But we all have to work  towards a common goal, not play games against each other.
Candidates for local office like Kshama are attractive because they are  saying what the Democrats have been saying for decades, yet don’t have  the perceived baggage of the smoke filled rooms that seem to shadow the  state level parties of all stripes and colors.  Sometimes it is  justified, but often it is just the result of poor communication.  I  want to open up communications.  I want people to believe that their  voices mean something, because they do. I believe we can win in any  district with a Democrat that supports our values and when backed up by a local organization strong enough, we will do just that.
Again, I thank you for your question. It is certainly a complicated  question, and there are no easy answers. At the end of the day, a  representative is supposed to do and be just that. He or she is supposed to represent the people in their district and carry their voice up to  the government. The work we need to do is to change the hearts and minds of the people. Once we do that, they will fight to have real  progressives represent them.
On another issue, I read your report on Sunday’s forum and I wanted to share some of my thoughts.
You mentioned that I ran unsuccessfully against Doc Hastings and while  true, the fact is, so did Jay Inslee in 1994.  I state this because the  reason Democrats lose in the red districts often has nothing to do with  the quality of the candidate. As I’ve been saying, it takes an  infrastructure and a commitment of time and sweat to change an entire  culture. We will have to do that to start winning in red areas again. It won’t be short term and it won’t be easy.
You write that I am  “pro-gun rights.” I am not sure what you mean by that so I wish to  clarify. Had I been elected to Congress I would have had to enforce the  law, as a Marine I swore to protect the Constitution and as a citizen I  have to follow the law. The Constitution does state that the citizens of this country have a right to keep and bear arms. However, there is  nothing in that document that states that we cannot put real regulations on the types of weapons and the types of ammunition that regular  citizens can buy, nor does it mean that we cannot have universal  background checks.
The first amendment doesn’t mean we can  shout “fire” in a theater, therefore the second amendment doesn’t mean  that a person should be allowed to have an arsenal of military grade  weapons in his closet.
Having stated that, in my opinion the  real issue is about communication. When I went door-to-door in my home  town, if I started the conversation with the topic of “guns” the door  got slammed in my face. That might sound like I am taking a stand, but  as you noted, I lost and when Democrats lose, the changes we need to  make never happen. So what I always do is start with the things that  people can agree on in my area. Once we get a rapport going and once  they trust me, then I can move on to the subjects that we disagree on.  It’s much easier to make a convincing argument, about a contentious  issue, if you have a connection with someone.
Just because the  framing and wording is changed, doesn’t mean that we must give an inch  on our core Progressive values. Weapon safety legislation needs to  happen, we must protect women’s health and reproductive rights, and we  must continue to fight for equality and justice for all. These core  progressive values are in our platform, and the purpose of our  Democratic Party, as you heard, is to make our platform law. I agree  with every plank and every resolution in our platform, but we must give  candidates the flexibility to highlight which areas of our platform  speak to their voters, and allow them to frame those issues in the most  effective way possible to elect Progressives.
This got longer  than I expected.  I hope your question was answered sufficiently, and I  hope I was able to express my thoughts on your blog post clearly.   Thanks for asking, and thanks for being involved!
In Solidarity,
Jay Clough

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