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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Here We Go...Again

When I read this article in the WaPo this morning, I had to marvel at the effectiveness of the Ken Mehlman faxing plan. I mean, really, how is it that a newspaper can be induced into printing the same story -- twice -- and miss the bigger picture story both times. Let's look, shall we?

Here's the WaPo on November 12, 2005:
The Democratic National Committee under Howard Dean is losing the fundraising race against Republicans by nearly 2 to 1, a slow start that is stirring concern among strategists who worry that a cash shortage could hinder the party's competitiveness in next year's midterm elections....

Now, the latest financial numbers are prompting new doubts. From January through September, the Republican National Committee raised $81.5 million, with $34 million remaining in the bank. The Democratic National Committee, by contrast, showed $42 million raised and $6.8 million in the bank.
Here's the WaPo today, January 22, 2006:
Despite a lackluster showing in 2005 elections for the GOP, the Republican National Committee raked in better than $100 million last year and enjoys its largest cash-on-hand lead over its Democratic counterpart in more than a decade.

For the year just passed, the RNC brought in nearly $102 million -- give or take a few hundred thousand -- and had $34 million in the bank. The Democratic National Committee raised $51 million in 2005 but showed $5.5 million on hand at the end of the year.
First, note that Chris Cilliza has the byline on both stories, so clearly this is an issue of interest -- or Mehlman has found a fax buddy. Second, the story from today does finally note that the DNC has been putting a lot of effort into rebuilding state party organizations. (Devoting a whole sentence to that fact. Whew -- in depth coverage, that.) But what point do both stories miss altogether? For that, we need to take a page from Kos:
So Dean has cut the RNC's traditional 3-1 advantage (or more) in fundraising to a 2-1 advantage and raised $11 million more than McAuliffe raised in 2003. Not to mention that Dean's numbers come the year after a presidential election -- the worst political fundraising time possible, while McAuliffe's came during the presidential cycle. Meanwhile, the RNC has remained static.

Dean has also been fundraising in the states, FOR the states. Past DNC chairmen would sweep into Lousiana or California, raise some money, and then ship the cash off the DC. Dean has garnered raves in the states for funneling that money to the local parties. Those are dollars not tallied in the RNC versus DNC comparisons. Mehlman isn't out tirelessly raising money for state parties.

The more worrying figure is the Cash on Hand numbers, with the RNC sitting at $34 million and the DNC at $6.8 million. While it would be nice to see more transparency in the DNC's spending (they'll need it if they expect to raise signficant money online), fact is that Dean has invested seriously in building up local parties. He's put three DNC staffers in 38 states, and will be staffed out in all 50 states by the end of the year. He's fundraised for the state parties, rather than pilfering all that cash.

So what's the source of all the kvetching? The big donors are upset that Dean hasn't kissed enough ass.
So, let's put all of this into context, shall we? The DC establishment Dem party bigwigs are peeved that Dean has been working hardest at state party/local fundraising -- you know, where it can actually do some serious good -- Because it cuts into their cocktail weenie events. And they are griping to the press about it, helping along the Mehlman fax machine journalism storyline, because it's about them and not the good of the party. Nice.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, state party chairs actually have cash in their coffers due to Dean's work which is not only new, its more effective. The story is not that Democrats have no money -- because, frankly, the DNC is still doing better this year than Terry McCaullife's presidential election fundraising numbers, according to Kos. The story really is how much better the state party establishment is doing.

And the fact that Dems have actually worked on state party strengthening, after years and years of neglect, is big news. When you add in fundraising number changes from state party work along with the DNC's increases, you get a much broader picture. But the WaPo fails to do this...again. But there is one thing they don't fail to do -- kiss Mehlman's ass.
He pitches in, too, spending seven or eight hours a week on the telephone thanking donors and soliciting contributions. "I'm a big believer [that] if you call and say thank you as well as asking for something, it's a good deal," he said.

In addition to dialing for dollars, Mehlman has crisscrossed the country in search of campaign cash. In 2005, he appeared at nearly 100 fundraising events.
Wow, Ken Mehlman. What an amazing guy. Doing his job and stuff by flying around to events he gets paid to attend. (And, hey, perhaps some enterprising reporter might want to ask who was paying for all those flights for Kenny Boy.) And they called Ken to get a quote from him about what a great guy he is -- tough journalism, that.

Do they talk about the fact that Dean has been to all 50 states and done substantial party fundraising for state coffers? Or that state party chairs love Dean for doing this -- after years of being ignored by the beltway establishment? Oh sure -- they get a whole sentence. "The Democrats -- led by DNC Chairman Howard Dean -- spent considerable resources in 2005 on resuscitating state parties and now have operatives on the ground in all 50 states." Nothing like portraying the Democratic party as being on life support and in need of oxygen while the GOP is a well-oiled machine (Of course, no mention that's it's been built on a foundation of corruption or Abramoff and his ilk or anything. Nope.)

Oh, and a quote from Dean or someone else from the DNC? Nonexistent. But you knew that without even looking at the article, didn't you?