A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 3: Relevance

Monday, March 10, 2014

by Dave

Part 3 of my series (leading up to the next DPVA meeting) examining how DPVA can be the best state party possible.Dave Leichtman is the DPVA Vice-chair for Technology and Communications
Over the last couple of weeks, and leading up to this weekend's DPVA meeting, I've been highlighting how we can work to make DPVA the best state party it can be. We dug deep into fundraising (Read: "A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 1: Money"), and then we discussed candidate resources and recruitment (Read: "A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 2: Candidates"). So, for our final installment, let's discuss relevance. Let's assume for the moment that everything discussed previously is unfixable: that DPVA is stuck in a fundraising rut, that the Coordinated is destined to be its own independent entity, and that candidate recruitment will forever remain scatter-shot. Bleak outlook? Maybe. But even in such a less-than-perfect world, DPVA can still have a major part to play. DPVA can remain relevant by concentrating on what it's best at.
So what is DPVA good at?
Dave :: A Better DPVA in Depth - Part 3: Relevance
1) Being a central repository. When computer equipment was abandoned in droves after the 2012 election, where did it all go? The DPVA office in Richmond, where it was cataloged and repurposed to help Coordinated Campaign offices and house of Delegates races that needed it. Who controls the master data file for all of Virginia's Democrats? DPVA's IT Director, Brenner Tobe. DPVA and its staff provide a real and valuable service of "centralization" to campaigns and committees around the Commonwealth. By protecting its assets, like its data store and its headquarters building, the Party can provide a constant, reliable backdrop against which campaigns can cycle. And despite our travails, the Party's brand has been weakened, but not diminished. DPVA should step up its offerings, make itself more central, and capitalize on its brand for further fundraising efforts.2) Party Services and Political Development. One benefit to the Party being "the constant" in Virginia is that our political staff get to know all of the Chairs, all of the committees, and all of the potential candidates. Providing party services - answering questions about meetings and rules, getting forms and data distributed, and helping the committees organize - is an invaluable offering that DPVA is uniquely positioned to provide being that it's the franchising authority for those committees. Many come-and-go campaigners view party services as a waste of time, coddling of volunteers who would rather have titles than knock door. I prefer to think of those committees as extensions of DPVA. And by being involved in every committee, we begin to know who to go for specialty skills to and how to identify talent, especially in candidate recruitment.
3) Training. If there's one thing DPVA has been consistently good at, it's training - training on the voter file, on precinct ops, and on volunteer organization. When new Chairs begin their term, we hold a series of intro phone calls to help them get their feet wet. And during campaign cycles, there's generally road-show trainings around the state. They're invaluable to helping local committees learn the tricks of the trade used by the large campaigns, and I'd venture to say that we still don't do enough. We need to bring back our regional political directors so they can be out there working with local committees all day, every day, teaching them the ropes.
With few resources, DPVA can still accomplish much. The trick is to focus on what the Party is good at and let the campaigns do the rest. A logical extension of the above points might be that DPVA should specifically focus on "under-served" committees and work with them to make them stronger. These are the kind of ideas that can keep DPVA relevant in the current political landscape.
If you haven't already checked it out, read up on DPVA Forward ( Most of what I've discussed over these last 4 articles is enumerated there, much more succinctly. It's my hope that by providing a simple statement of how we can be better, and by urging the new Chair to support it, we can push the Party toward being a better version of itself. If you haven't yet, put your name on it, and maybe we can do some good together.
And as always, discuss!