31 December 2010

Colorado Dems Looking For New State Chair

Pat Waak, the incumbent chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, has decided not to run for a fourth term of office, leaving the race for the post open, with no clear front runner or even announced candidates.

The state chair is generally the most frequently quoted spokesperson for Democrats in the state who does not hold an elected public office, given the holder of the post a bully pulpit, and also has considerable informal influence over the recruitment of candidates for open partisan seats in the state. The state chair also is charged with making sure that the caucus process leading up to and including the state convention, and the coordinated campaign Get Out The Vote process have proper leadership, and that everyone else in the organization is doing their jobs in a manner in compliance with state law. Finally, the chair has an important say in the party's litigation strategy regarding election law related issues.

In years such as the four years to come (at least), when there is a Democratic Governor, however, the party chairs symbolic role can be reduced, because the Governor can assume the focal point role in the party.

The reality of modern campaign finance and the structure of the party is that the state chair has very little in the way of discretionary funds to spend, immense and costly state law mandates, and little influence over who is actually selected to be a nominee in races where there is more than one serious candidate within the party.

While the state chair position is higher profile than the host of thankless state and county party officer and committee positions, it is involves a great deal of work, travel and people skills, while imparting only a modest amount of influence that comes with threefold more criticism. But, at its best, a party chair can guide the party in the right direction.

No comments: