How Did This Happen?
Letter to Supporters, November 8, 2006
Dear Fellow Democrat,
This year will be remembered as another moment when Americans started another historic process -- one that will usher in a new sense of community and demands for a government that focuses on the common good.
That's the thing about America. Whenever our leaders have failed to meet the challenges of the day, whenever our government's priorities have narrowed to represent the few at the expense of the many, the American people have risen up as one and corrected our course.
It will also be remembered as the rebirth of a political party devoted to ensuring that ordinary people not only have a voice, but real power at all levels of government.
Just 21 months ago we began the long process of breathing new life into our party with a 50-state strategy. After years of watching the playing field of "competitive" races dwindle and our operation disappear in many parts of the country, ordinary Democrats across the country demanded a truly national party.
Since then we've built the field organizing, communications, technological and financial infrastructure of a party that can and will compete everywhere. We've done it by growing our operation from the ground-up and empowering Democrats to take our party and our democracy into their own hands.
Here are just a few examples of how that work impacted this election:
Kansas: Our 50-state strategy organizers helped transform the Democratic Party in Kansas under the leadership of Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Strong leadership from the Democratic Party created a wave of party-switchers -- moderate Republicans fed-up with the right-wing stranglehold on their party. The reinvigorated state party knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors and elected Democrats up and down the ballot, including new Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Boyda in the 2nd Congressional district and new Attorney General Paul Morrison, who beat his opponent by over 134,000 votes.
Minnesota: Four DNC field organizers in Minnesota have created an unprecedented field program. Republican Mark Kennedy was supposed to have a lock on the open Senate seat, but with new technology by the DNC and 1.6 million voters contacted, Amy Klobuchar defied expectations and handily won the race after thousands of unlikely voters came to the polls. We're not stopping here -- this work will continue apace as we position our party to take back a Senate seat in 2008.
Ohio: Our field organizers in Ohio expanded the state party's infrastructure, making inroads deep into what has long been considered "Bush Country." A DNC-funded field director, four field organizers, and a voter database manager all helped run voter contact operations in parts of the state that hadn't heard from the Democratic Party in years. Take Butler county, for example, where Democratic performance improved by nearly 50% on our 2004 results as we elected a new Democratic Senator, Democratic Governor, Democratic Secretary of State, and more Democrats up and down the ballot.
South Dakota: The Democratic Party in South Dakota is now a powerful political operation. In 2002, Democrats recruited only 66 legislative candidates. This year we recruited 90. Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth was re-elected, and South Dakotans rejected a radical measure that denies the basic right of women, in consultation with their families and doctors, to make their own decisions about their reproductive health.
New Hampshire: In this crucial state we re-elected our Democratic governor and picked up House seats. In the course of our work we laid a permanent foundation for the party -- including a research and tracking operation that helped elect Democrats this cycle and will be the foundation of a tracking operation to hold Republican presidential candidates accountable as they crisscross the state.
Indiana: Over a year ago, Democrats in Indiana started planning for Election Day. They focused on a strategy that initiated a new media campaign to hold Republicans accountable for their actions, and worked to drive the Democratic message using grassroots support. The state party was able to hire a communications director, and because the executive director no longer had to focus on working with the media, he was able to concentrate on fundraising - raising enough money to hire an organizer to work in the 2nd congressional district, another Democratic pickup, where Democrat Joe Donnelly gained more than 17,000 votes than the Democrat had in 2002.
And in other states, Democrats gained new majorities in eight state legislative chambers. We now have majorities in 55 state chambers - the largest shift since 1994.
Next week will mark one year of organizing for 2006 -- we began in earnest just a week after 2005 elections that yielded new Democratic governors in Virginia and New Jersey. Across the country, at over 1,000 venues in all 50 states, ordinary Democrats came together to organize for elections nearly a year away.
Those nationwide events built over time -- the 50-State Canvass, the Democratic Reunion, the 50-State Turnout Kickoff -- bringing more and more ordinary people into the Democratic operation in every state across the country.
That process will continue, and soon you're going to have more opportunities to participate meaningfully than ever before.
For the first time in a generation, after a national election our party operation will not disintegrate. Our growing party operation in the states will support newly elected Democrats and educate the public about the common sense solutions we'll be pursuing, and hold Republicans accountable for their corruption and continued failures of leadership.
A special group of people make that possible. Nearly 35,000 Americans have been invested in this victory for months -- many for over a year. They give a small amount every month in the form of a Democracy Bond. Democracy Bond holders are a community of people committed to providing the long-term financial backbone necessary to pursue this kind of 50-state operation.
You can commemorate these historic wins and lay the groundwork for a generation of victories ahead of us by joining the Democracy Bond community now:
It's been a big Election Day, and every Democrat has earned the right to celebrate today. We won elections up and down the ballot tonight because Democrats are ready to lead.
There's one more thing anyone watching the Democratic Party should know today:
We're only getting started.
Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
Original posted on Democrats.org.