Panelists discuss the need for a new fifty-state strategy
Panelists discuss the need for a new fifty-state strategy at Netroots Nation 2015 (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPi)

Wel­come to our con­tin­u­ing live cov­er­age of Net­roots Nation in Phoenix, Arizona.

This after­noon, NPI Pres­i­dent Robert Cruick­shank is lead­ing a pan­el dis­cus­sion about the col­lapse of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in the states and the need for a new fifty-state strat­e­gy to rebuild the par­ty’s strength in state­hous­es from Alas­ka to Flori­da. Here’s the premise of the pan­el as sub­mit­ted to Net­roots Nation:

The 2014 elec­tion was cat­a­stroph­ic for the pro­gres­sive move­ment and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Repub­li­cans gained a record num­ber of seats in state leg­is­la­tures and seized the gov­er­nor­ships of sev­er­al more blue states. Since Pres­i­dent Oba­ma took office, Democ­rats have lost near­ly 1,000 state leg­isla­tive seats. There are only sev­en states where Democ­rats con­trol the governor’s office and both hous­es of the leg­is­la­ture. Until we reverse the slide in the states, Democ­rats will have a near­ly impos­si­ble time retak­ing Con­gress and being able to gov­ern the coun­try again. Of course, GOP con­trol of states is caus­ing seri­ous dam­age in and of itself, as they impose extrem­ist poli­cies and under­mine pro­gres­sive vic­to­ries. This pan­el brings togeth­er lead­ers from across Amer­i­ca to ana­lyze the rea­sons for this disaster—and to chart the course back to power.

Pan­elists include: Mona Perez, E.J. Juárez, Michael Sargeant, Nina Turn­er


  • Elec­tion focus was only on the guber­na­to­r­i­al lev­el and the fed­er­al lev­el. There was not enough focus on down­bal­lot races.
  • Don’t build the roof, build the foun­da­tion. Focus­ing just on top of the tick­et races at the expense of down­bal­lot races is counterproduce.
  • In Wash­ing­ton state, we had an elec­tion con­sul­tant prob­lem. Con­sul­tants advised to talk to the mid­dle instead of talk­ing to pro­gres­sive causes.
  • Turnout had dropped from 2010 to the 2014 elec­tions. Caus­es could include Democ­rats not speak­ing to their base.
  • Redis­trict­ing by right wing-dom­i­nat­ed redis­trict­ing com­mis­sions hurt Democ­rats’ abil­i­ty to com­pete in sub­se­qent elections.
  • Ari­zona is run by the “Boys’ Club”. There has real­ly been no turnover in who is con­trol of Arizona.
  • Peo­ple, espe­cial­ly in poor and minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties, don’t feel that elect­ed offi­cials care about them, so they lose the moti­va­tion to vote.


  • Build the foun­da­tion. Focus on get­ting pro­gres­sive peo­ple elect­ed to the low­er lev­el offices. This will feed up the chain to push more pro­gres­sive ideas and can­di­dates with­in the high­er offices.
  • In Wash­ing­ton State, cam­paign con­sul­tants were not speak­ing the right lan­guage. Can­di­dates need to speak to pro­gres­sive issues that res­onate with voters.
  • Democ­rats need to dri­ve their base on issues they care about. This is nec­es­sary to get them moti­vat­ed to vote.
  • More val­ue needs to be placed on can­di­dates who run for offices like local water dis­trict commissioners.
  • State Sec­re­tary office is very impor­tant because they are instru­men­tal in mak­ing it easy for cit­i­zens to vote.
  • It’s impor­tant to improve our mes­sag­ing to reach out to peo­ple hearts. Vot­ers don’t vote for a can­di­date just because they are intel­lec­tu­al. The vot­er needs to feel that the can­di­date is run­ning to do some­thing to lift them up.
  • The is no such thing as an off-year elec­tion. Focus on all elec­tions because it helps build the foun­da­tion for bet­ter suc­cess in future elections.
  • Can­di­dates need to knock on doors and be con­nect­ed to the peo­ple. You can’t run a cam­paign on Face­book Ads.
  • Reach out to the poor, sin­gle moth­ers, and minori­ties. Reach­ing out to the base is impor­tant. Cam­paign con­sul­tants that claim that this is a waste of time are wrong.
  • Minori­ties need to be includ­ed in all lev­els of the elec­tion process and in can­di­date train­ing. Ads and names should not be “white washed”. Ads need to be made by the can­di­dates and the peo­ple who sup­port them.
  • Have a long-term plan as well as a short-term plan in elections.
  • Repub­li­cans are aware and are afraid of the vot­ing pop­u­la­tion chang­ing. We as pro­gres­sives need to reach out to the new evolv­ing vot­ing pop­u­la­tion to grow our base.
  • Redis­trict­ing com­mis­sions are usu­al­ly elect­ed in secret. It is impor­tant to shed light on the redis­trict­ing com­mis­sions and get pro­gres­sive peo­ple appointed/elected to those redis­trict­ing commissions.
  • In Ari­zona, and else­where, we need to advo­cate for new leadership.
  • To keep peo­ple ener­gized, one must be authen­tic. This helps restore trust in elect­ed politicians.
  • Vot­ing rights is a very impor­tant issue. Access to the bal­lot box is very impor­tant in get­ting the right can­di­dates elect­ed that work for the people.

This was a great pan­el; Robert may have addi­tion­al thoughts to share on how it went here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate some­time dur­ing the next few days.

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