Thursday, December 22, 2005

Michael: Moveon Ruffles Shachter Over CD8 Nomninations

Francine ShachterMoveOn.org sponsored a nomination contest when Kolbe announced his retirement. Asking for members to nominate their favored candidates, they narrowed the field to 4 candidates. Unfortunately, two of them - Tom Volgy and Mary Judge Ryan - have not announced, and may never announce, their candidacies. Two of them - Gabrielle Giffords and Jeff Latas - have. But at least two announced candidates - Francine Shachter and Alex Rodriguez - did not make the cut. And one candidate who is widely expected to run - Eva Bacal - apparently didn't make the cut either.

The validity and the method by which influence and money may be directed to certain campaigns by Moveon's process concerns at least one candidate; and I wouldn't be surprised if her opinion reflected the feelings of some of the others who haven't been put on Moveon's short list (especially since two of the slots are taken by person's who haven't made the plunge).

Francine Shacter wrote the following open letter, and I decided to share it in full:

My name is Francine Shacter and on November 7, I declared my candidacy for Congress in the 8th Congressional District of Arizona. I have just received your email listing the four top candidates nominated by your mailing list to run for this seat. I was sorry to see that my name is not among them.

I was interested in your comment that “crucial decisions are being made every day right now, as potential candidates decide whether to run and the Parties decide which candidates they'll support. Usually this happens behind closed doors and you only have a say when you are presented with one, or a couple, candidates on the primary ballot.” You are, in effect, doing the same thing. Your request for nominees went to your mailing list which may not be behind closed doors but is limited to your membership. I am a long time liberal, progressive Democrat. I have worked to elect progressive Democrats since before that term “progressive Democrat” was coined.

You have come up with four people who got the most votes. Speaking as a retired statistician, I think you should state the universe from which these nominations came. Otherwise you are in the same category as the folks behind closed doors that you inveigh against in your emails. By intruding yourself in the political process in CD 8, you are creating another “closed door” group.

The way candidates get on the ballot is by running a campaign and getting enough signatures to a nominating petition to meet the requirements of the State. Anyone who can meet these requirements can run for public office. Therefore, your comment that “the Parties decide which candidates they’ll support and you [the voter] only have a say when you are presented with one, or a couple, candidates on the primary ballot” is not accurate. In fact, a truly open primary is the best way for the electorate to select the best candidate.

With the exception of Jeff Latas, who decided to run and announced his candidacy on November 11, the three persons on your list had no intention of running against an incumbent because of the difficulties inherent in that process. Francine Shacter (announced November 7) and Jeff Latas (announced November 11) were the only ones willing to run in a primary and let the electorate decide which of us should face Kolbe, the incumbent. That should tell the world one thing about Shacter and Latas: these are people who have the courage of their convictions and the guts to put themselves and their positions on the issues before the voters.

Sincerely,

Francine Shacter


Is Shachter's concern just sour grapes?

I don't think so. She raises a very valid concern regarding the mindless piling-on of early money and support - very little of it informed by much beyond a certain credibility, name recognition, and momentum. Is that really how we want to be selecting our candidates? Do we really do our party or our democracy a service by winnowing our choices down to a 'managable' field of choices so as not to confuse the 'consumer'?

Our instinct is that the earlier a nominee is annointed, the stronger that candidate will be in the general election. But just the opposite may be true, in fact. The testing of a hard-fought and substantive primary season with diverse candidates is the best proving ground for a party's nominee. Short-circuiting that process by limiting certain candidates' access to the voters by starving 'marginal' or 'dark-horse' candidates of money, media, and manpower may only serve to further narrow the range of debate with-in the party and weaken the resulting candidate's appeal to a wider electorate.

The GOP has, I believe, fallen hostage to a small and powerfully mobilized cadre of primary voters that have driven GOP nominees ever-further to the right. I think this will eventually destroy the GOP as a national coalition party. We do not want to emulate the 'catastrophic success' of the GOP's model of primary competition. What appears to be strength and cohesion may in fact be only careful stage management and the suppression of dissenting voices.

Early money may be like yeast, but it would behoove us to remember that some strains of yeast can cause a virulent infection

7 Comments:

At 6:59 AM, Blogger Tedski said...

I've never met Shacter, so I don't want to evaluate her personal character here, and don't take it as such.

Shacter had the same opporitunities that other candidates did, to have her supporters vote on Move On. I know that you have done some organizing Mike. You know that it couldn't have been too hard to get her folks to vote on the website, certainly it is a lot simpler than say, getting her supporters to walk petitions or do the other things necessary to run anything approaching a campaign.

The other thing that bothers me is this pretention that somehow Shacter is entitled to the nomination merely because she declared early before Kolbe dropped out. So, I guess that Bobby Kennedy should not have run in 1968.

If you notice, the move on site says "recruit a candidate." In addition to raising "early money," Move On's aim was to encourage candidates to run by showing that they had support. Frankly, I consider those people that want Volgy and Ryan to run again are bitter enders, a sort of Baja Arizona Democratic equivalent of the Japanese that hid out in the jungle who were fighting the war decades later. But, they actually voted, they were interested in encouraging their candidates to run again. Also, Latas should be lauded; his folks voted in large numbers, a sign that he has his stuff together.

Shacter may have been beaten by the fact that she hasn't actually lived here for long, so doesn't have strong community ties. In some ways, I find it odd that someone who just moved here wants to make her first political plunge as a race for US Congress. Obviously Shacter has the fire in the belly for a race, but I don't think this is a race she can win. She'd be an excellent candidate for legislature though, she lives in a district where we always have trouble recruiting candidates.

 
At 3:56 PM, Blogger Mother Peach said...

I believe Tedski misses Michael's and Ms. Shacter's point.

I was very disappointed in Moveon's decision to poll to "recruit a candidate" in CD8 and wrote them as much.

The point of the primary process is to let the electorate (that portion that turns out) to select who runs in the general election for a particular office. I don't want Moveon making that choice for me. Moveon should get behind the candidate that runs against a republican candidate in the general.

Moveon's poll results struck me as "conventional thinking" -- the preordained and the expected candidates.

What strikes me is that as a party we largely back the person that "fits a profile" and what does that get us? We either get defeated or we end up with more business as usual in Washington.

I want a representative who upholds progressive values and will work for change. I want free choice in the primary. I don't need someone else or some organization to narrow the field "to help me" choose.

 
At 5:54 PM, Blogger Michael said...

I agree with Shachter's concern to the extent that it should not be Moveon's job to NARROW our choices. The idea to limit the list to the top four vote getters is pretty much useless. Much better if they hhad stimulated debate and creative thinking by listing all those who recieved votes, along with their vote total, of course. That would be an addition to the debate, instead of artificially narrowing of it.

 
At 1:35 PM, Anonymous AZ Democrat said...

I agree with Shachter. When I got the email, I was wondering too..."How the heck did they choose these four?" It certainly was NOT by the Moveon.org membership, as I have been a member since they formed. I am also a financial contributor. I think they merely took a list of who ran in the past and was likely to run, then added Latas because he declared early and had a lot of grassroots support, then came up with the 'list'. It certainly was NOT based on Arizona Democrats, progressives or Moveon members. Shachter likely won't be my candidate, (Latas or Giffords will likely get my support) however, her point is one well taken and one I entirely agree with. Moveon.org did a great disservice to its members and to all the candidates. Two on their list won't likely even get in the race. It makes their entire org look like a bunch of Washington insiders out of touch with the reality of what is going on in the states...the exact opposite of how they present themselves.

 
At 1:39 PM, Anonymous az democrat said...

Tedski misses the point. Shachters supporters cannot even vote for her, because he name is NOT AN OPTION on the list. Moveon.org members were not given an opportunity to pick whose names would be on that original list, so if your name is not there, your supporters cannot vote for you. At the time I voted, I wasn't sure I wanted any of the candidates on the list.

I am a moveon member, and no one asked me to help create the infamous list. In fact, I am so boiled over about this I am not going to contribute to them until I see some apology and change to this procedure on their part.

 
At 10:37 PM, Blogger Dwight D. Leister:Chair said...

I too am a Moveon.org member and could not even vote for myself as a Candidate for Congress in Arizona's 8th District since April of 2004;filed with the F.E.C. and filing re-organization in April of 2005. Anyone who says they are the one who went against Jim Kolbe before any other Candidate in the 2006 cycle needs to go to fec.gov and read what it says on the Official Government web-site,also my F.E.C. I.D. number and Clerk of Congress I.D. numbers are proof since they show a lower number than any of the current Candidates for Congress and will continue to show those numbers as I will not stop runing for this Congressional Seat to hold accountable all those LIARS CHEATERS AND EVILDOERS; who have Demonized Civil Debate in Politics and brought the end of Candidates and Campaigns as we knew in the past to become whores of corporate money from both Parties,dividing the middle class and poor and retired people from the upper 2% who get the biggest tax breaks as payback!

 
At 2:02 AM, Anonymous Allergy and Immunology said...

I've never met Shacter, so I don't want to evaluate her personal character here, and don't take it as such.Shacter had the same opporitunities that other candidates did, to have her supporters vote on Move On. I know that you have done some organizing Mike. You know that it couldn't have been too hard to get her folks to vote on the website, certainly it is a lot simpler than say, getting her supporters to walk petitions or do the other things necessary to run anything approaching a campaign.The other thing that bothers me is this pretention that somehow Shacter is entitled to the nomination merely because she declared early before Kolbe dropped out. So, I guess that Bobby Kennedy should not have run in 1968.If you notice, the move on site says "recruit a candidate." In addition to raising "early money," Move On's aim was to encourage candidates to run by showing that they had support. Frankly, I consider those people that want Volgy and Ryan to run again are bitter enders, a sort of Baja Arizona Democratic equivalent of the Japanese that hid out in the jungle who were fighting the war decades later. But, they actually voted, they were interested in encouraging their candidates to run again. Also, Latas should be lauded; his folks voted in large numbers, a sign that he has his stuff together.Shacter may have been beaten by the fact that she hasn't actually lived here for long, so doesn't have strong community ties. In some ways, I find it odd that someone who just moved here wants to make her first political plunge as a race for US Congress. Obviously Shacter has the fire in the belly for a race, but I don't think this is a race she can win. She'd be an excellent candidate for legislature though, she lives in a district where we always have trouble recruiting candidates.

 

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