Hello and thanks for inviting us to be a part of this discussion. It's a privilege to be able to share with you why we believe The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care)
is a valuable story, but, maybe more importantly, to get your feedback and to answer your questions on why you should care.
Fundamentally, this book is about one of the more un-sexy topics related to politics: infrastructure. It may seem odd that a reporter and a former politician, both inclined to gravitate toward the salacious and sensational for our own respective purposes, might spend all of our free time the last couple years researching and writing about infrastructure, so allow us to pander, albeit briefly, to get you into this story.
Chances are you were watching ? record audiences were ? when Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for president with the Rocky Mountains in the background back in August 2008. For six days that summer, the city felt more like Cannes than Denver. Reporters joked that the motion picture industry screeched to a halt as Hollywood convened a thousand miles to the east and a mile above sea level to witness history.
So it was fitting, that in a small movie theatre on the city's urban college campus, one of the week's most improbable stories would be shared. If those in attendance had their way, its successes would be replicated in their states around the country.
Those in theatre eight of the Starz Green Room heard about how, just four years earlier, Republicans controlled the Colorado governor's mansion, both of the state's U.S. Senate seats, five of seven Congressional seats, and both chambers of the state legislature. Now, just a couple months before the '08 election, Colorado was poised to completely flip that scenario and give Democrats near complete control. That this happened while registered Republican voters outnumbered Democrats made the scenario all the more implausible.
They called it The Colorado Miracle. By any measure, it was one of the most stunning political reversals in American history.
Many inside the theatre knew how the Obama campaign had patterned its grassroots organizing, its online fundraising, and its voter registration efforts after what had started in Colorado in 2004. The head of an organization called The Democracy Alliance described what he called a "quiet little project" called The Committee on States.
Fundamentally, the goal was to get progressives in other states up to "Colorado's level of sophistication and organizational development." If successful, progressive candidates (read: Democratic candidates) could achieve lasting success in swing states like Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Further, they even targeted state legislative seats, so-called down-ballot races because voters had to go down the ballot to get to them, in traditional red states like Alabama, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
The plan to spend more than $100 million on "development" may sound incredibly blasé to the average voter, but its effects could be transformational. You see, while the national media may be focused on Congress and control of Congress in the 2010 election, the progressives have focused on control of Congress for the next decade.
At stake in the 2010 election are 35 governor's seats and control of state legislatures in all 50 states. Those are the legislative bodies that will draw the Congressional district maps for the next 10 years. If you have like-minded people deciding your political fate, the blueprint for success is easier to follow.
"Ultimately the commodity we're dealing with is political power," said Michael Huttner, who created an online grassroots group called ProgressNow that boasts the largest voter email list in Colorado and has founded chapters in roughly a dozen other states with hopes of doubling that by 2012. "It's all about building power at the state level."
So that's what we'll talk about this week, nothing short of constructing a political levee, designed to maximize gain when times are good and minimize loss when times are bad. This fall will be its first true test with a seeming Republican hurricane blowing. Coming up tomorrow, we'll chat about what made Colorado's infrastructure so unique and the must-understand political story for both parties entering 2010.