Five reasons I'm supporting Lon Johnson - and three things he can do to keep my support

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson is running for a second term - and I'm supporting him.

There's no doubt that the MDP continues to deal with a number of challenges, from low turnout in midterms to declining union membership. It's easy to look at the issues that still exist and blame the person at the top.

The reality is, for all the prestige that people associate with chairing one of the state's largest political parties, the Chair must deal with a ton of pressures that most people can’t fully appreciate.

Johnson has made a number of improvements in the MDP, while beginning the process of making other improvements. For instance:

1. Lon has stepped up the MDP’s data game. The more we know about voters, the better we can target out messaging. In fairness to Mark Brewer, some of that work started under his chairmanship, but Lon has really scaled this effort.

2. Our ground game was the best I’ve ever seen. It was about as good as - and maybe even better than - I’ve seen even in presidential years.

3. We’re progressing toward Howard Dean’s vision. The good doctor said we must reach out to every voter and contest every seat. We’re not there yet, but we’re moving in that direction. For instance, I live in Republican congressional and legislative districts, but Democrats ran great campaigns for these races. Around here you had folks like Dean Vanderstelt, Jim Walters, Kemal Hamulic, Franklin Cornielle, Sarah Howard, Jessica Hanselman, Lynn Mason, and Deb Havens. Of course, the candidates themselves - and their supporters - were largely responsible and deserve the most credit. But the MDP did put some effort into helping them with many of the basics, including websites and literature.

4. We did better than the rest of the country. Michigan is home to the only new Democratic US Senator, Gary Peters. Our state also elected seven Democrats to the eight education-related statewide boards last year. Four years after Virg Bernero's 18-point loss, Schauer came within four points of beating Snyder. All of this is due, in large part, to the MDP's ground game.

5. It takes time to right a ship. For many years, the MDP has dealt with a wide range of issues, most of which are still there. Lon has started a years-long process of making needed changes. You don’t fire a coach after one season, especially when improvement has been made during that time.

Progress has been made - and more is needed. If the MDP is to grow as a Party, we must:

1. Keep data in the right perspective. We need quantitative data - but we also need qualitative info to put that data into the proper context.

2. Work more closely with local Party units. A top-down approach can backfire. Some decisions do need to be made without feedback, but most of the big decisions should involve at least some input from local stakeholders - they know the area better than folks who aren’t from the area.

3. Broaden the state party’s revenue streams. The MDP cannot count on labor's money - not only because there are fewer union members, but because it's never good to count on one sector of supporters for such a significant share of your money.

Lon Johnson has what it takes to lead these changes and build upon the work of the past two years. He deserves another term as Chair.

No comments: