by Steven Hale
Like many Tennessee Democrats, Steven Glaser lost on election day.
And like many Democrats, he's mad as hell about the state of the party.
The combination of the two resulted in a lengthy email that surfaced today, in which Glaser, who lost the District 44 race to replace retiring Democrat Mike McDonald, let fly a fairly harsh critique of the TNDP organization — a word that should perhaps be used, ahem, liberally.
Glaser's full email, and a response from the party, appear after the jump.
To whom it may concern (if anyone):
Now that the elections are over and things are settling down I would like to take this opportunity to thank the TNDP for all the support and help it rendered to our campaign. The 44th has traditionally been a Democratic district and with Mike McDonald retiring it was up for grabs. We certainly started as an underdog since our republican opponent had raised considerable amounts of money prior to the primary and continued to receive funds thereafter. His publications and signage were paid for by the Republican party which prepared and mailed his fliers. His party arranged several fund raisers which featured prominent House and Senate members and garnered significant contributions.
My opponents party used their considerable clout and gravity to move his candidacy forward and managed to besmirch my reputation in the press with little or no response from us. The TNGOP conducted polling and provided technical support to my opponent and helped raise PAC money from traditional republican strongholds. It appears their strategy was to raise money, present their candidate as a reasonable person, and promote his republicanism to exploit his affiliation with the Romney Campaign.
On the other hand the TNDP provided absolutely no support to our campaign. In fact, we had to pay for access to Votebuilder, and pay for a "poll" that was ostensibly for us but was done for multiple candidates. We had to cajole the party into including our website on the candidate page. We had to request our video be promoted like the other candidates, but it was too late. We received more financial help from the Sumner County Democratic Party than from the TNDP which was zero. It was like pulling teeth to get our calls answered and the answers we got were often times inconsistent or wrong.
The party did not use its clout to help with fundraisers, endorsements, obtaining PAC money from traditionally Democratic supporters (read Unions, State Employees) or getting our message out to voters through mailing or email. In fact the TNDP made it much more difficult to get volunteers to canvass or phone bank by taking local resources and using them for the Obama campaign in North Carolina. Rather than having our local volunteers helping local campaigns they were lured by inclusion in a national campaign with absolutely no ties to our state or local election. Consequently democratic local candidates received no spill over or or help from association with the national campaign. Just because the National party wrote off Tennessee there is no reason for our own state party to take our local resources away from us.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, I don't belong to any kind of organized political party, I'm a Democrat. Until the state party develops a common strategy, core values, and a fund raising mechanism similar to that in Colorado (Which swept the House and Senate) we will continue to be also-rans and lament the good old days. Its time to make a commitment throughout the state to build a viable party structure that can and will help ALL local candidates be successful. That starts with leadership.
With the timely resignation of Mr. Forester it is time to bring in someone who will marshal the elected democratic officials and raise the profile of the party through unified ideas and direction. Fundraising must be done on a statewide basis and not left up to the friends and neighbors of a local candidate. We can not be successful as a party if every campaign is left to its own devices. We must come together as a party and show a united front that resonates with all Tenesseeans. A house (or a Senate) divided against itself cannot stand.
The party should be helping local candidates in every race by finding, recruiting and training campaign managers. Those managers should be monitored and directed by the party. Fund raising should be done by the party for the candidates and for the party by the candidates. All democratic candidates should have similar issues and talking points which can be bolstered by TNDP advertising and publicity. Printing, postage, volunteers, blogging, emailing, websites and a core message should all be coordinated through the Party for economy of scale. Until we make a commitment to developing a strong state party local Democrats will continue to struggle. There are many, many people who would like to move the party forward on the local level but they lack direction. That direction should come from the top.
So in conclusion, I want to ask that if you cant help the local candidates, at lease stop being an impediment. I plan to continue to work for and with the state party and all future democratic candidates. But until we overhaul our system of recruiting and organizing local candidates I believe we will continue to be unsuccessful.
From under the Bus,
Not surprisingly, TNDP spokesman Brandon Puttbrese sees things a bit differently.
“We appreciate all the hard work that Mr. Glaser did on his campaign and we were happy to support his campaign through various avenues which included fundraising training and support, as well as voter targeting and data readiness, along with communications support where it was warranted," Puttbrese told Pith, when reached by phone for a response. "Sadly, we hoped of course that the outcome would have been different, but we appreciate all of his hard work and we feel that it was a campaign that will lay the groundwork for a campaign to be successful in the future.”
"The Tennessee Democratic Party did more for candidates this time around than it’s ever done, broadly speaking, more than we’ve ever done for candidates across the board [than] ever before. Now some candidates needed more assistance, some needed less assistance. But we tried to offer a base level of support for every candidate.”
When asked, Puttbrese declined to say whether he rejected Glaser's critique or if the former candidate's claims of an absentee party organization were incorrect.
“We did everything we could for all kinds of candidates," Puttbrese said. "I won’t say that Steve is wrong. I won’t say that he’s right. I would like to have a conversation with him, versus reading it on a blog, and I think that some people have had a conversation with him, not me personally. So, I’m not here to mince hairs with Steve. I think he did the best he could do in a tough district.”