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Video: Dan Lagana, Paul Jameson Make Their Cases to Be Next Fairfax Dems Chair

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Yes, it’s that time again…for Democratic committee reorganizations. Last night at the Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC), the largest Democratic committee in Virginia (with nearly 1,000 members in a huge county that’s basically the mother lode of Democratic votes in Virginia), candidates Dan Lagana and Paul Jameson made their cases for why people should vote for them to succeed outgoing, two-term chair Sue Langley (by the way, great job Sue – thanks!). So who do you support to be the next FCDC chair? Please feel free to make your case in the comments section.

P.S. The election will be on January 9, 2018.

  • Carrie Nixon

    I encouraged Paul to join the Providence District Dem Committee when I was Chair, and was so impressed by his interest in – and participation in – trying out new ideas that I later recruited him to be Chair at the end of my second term. I am so proud of what he has done in Providence – growing our Committee by leaps and bounds, continuing to reach out to others and try new ideas, developing active precinct captains in every precinct, and leading by example with respect for all. We are very fortunate to have two great candidates, but I hope to see Paul at the helm of FCDC next year!

  • Eric Owens

    Paul served as Providence District Dems Chair when I first joined the Fairfax Democrats about two years ago. He recruited me to serve as a precinct captain and we have had great success in our district. Although Paul is the older of the two candidates, he has done a great job getting younger Dems involved in the party and giving them the opportunity to lead.

  • Harriet Hirsch

    I posted this on Paul’s webpage but think it fits here as well.

    As a grassroots organizer outside of (but coordinating with) FCDC, I found Paul Jameson to be very helpful, supportive and wise. In particular, his careful, calm study of a situation I was concerned about, and then his advice about it, helped me a lot to work it out. I got to know Paul because the office I was organizing out of happened to be in his district and I wanted to be sure we were coordinating carefully but not overlapping. When he explained how he had organized his precincts to do their election outreach, (as I understood it, precinct captains giving canvassers repeat territories in their own neighborhoods, having trained them to pull their own lists and know their residents well, phone banks in each area on a regular basis), I was confident that would be the most effective way to organize for the best output. It is absolutely the way I believe we should organize the entire county. When grassroots and then the latest campaigns then join in on each election, they ideally should be able to combine with the local precincts to expand their already existing work, not recreate it, as I have so often experienced in other magisterial districts in past elections. I think Paul’s experience, and his proven calm effective leadership style are what we need at this time at the helm of FCDC. In fact I am joining FCDC because of the confidence I have in Paul’s strong, clear, thoughtful approach, and my hope that the way he has organized Providence can be carried over to the rest of the county. I believe that though each previous FCDC chair has helped build a strong committee, Paul Jameson is the best person to take it forward at this time. I hope you will join me in supporting him.

  • ToddSmyth

    Based on the content of the speeches, Dan wants to flip the remaining Republican seats in Fairfax County, which are mostly in the Southwestern part and Paul wants to tell DPVA and future coordinated campaigns (CC) to go fly a kite and run our own coordinated campaigns (pull our own voter contact lists)? As tempting as that last part sounds, it doesn’t seem practical. Paul has been the chair of Providence, which is the bluest of blue strongholds, with plenty of committee members and volunteers. If all of Fairfax County were more like Providence, I might be on board with Paul’s proposal. But Fairfax County is huge and it spans the full spectrum form dark blue Annandale to reddish Clifton and not all of our committees are strong enough to run their own coordinated campaigns. This past cycle, Fairfax County had 20 paid full time staffers, who worked day and night along with a ton of volunteer and unpaid intern support. As much as I disagreed with CC decisions this year and last (I thought the 2013, McAuliffe CC was the best) I don’t think we have the bandwidth to be successful with Paul’s proposal. We do need to strengthen our precinct operations throughout the county but I agree with Dan that we also need to leverage some of our volunteers in the stronger blue areas to help flip seats in the purple areas (Hugo, Herrity, Cook, Schultz, Wilson). Dan has worked in the red parts of Fairfax County and won, including managing Kathy Smith’s Supervisor race in Sully and that is what we need.

    • Thanks for the comments.

    • Paul Jameson

      Todd, I’m sorry that having to spell out the vision in a short time in a short speech gave that impression. It’s far more nuanced than that. I’m about to head over to PDDC Reorganization, but I’ll write out a more detailed discussion of your point tomorrow morning.

    • Paul Jameson

      Let’s first address the comment that Providence “is the bluest of blue strongholds,” and that having a lot of members and volunteers makes it different from the rest of Fairfax. When I became Chair of Providence Dems, we had 79 members and an incumbent School Board member. We built up the membership (exceeding 200 members before Reorganization and having 180 members following Reorganization) and put together the organization to defeat the Republican School Board member in 2015. We didn’t start out bluer than the rest of Fairfax County.

      Keep in mind that Obama won in every magisterial district both times, Clinton won in every magisterial district, and Northam won in every magisterial district by impressive margins. Every magisterial district in Fairfax County has the potential to perform extremely well.

      It takes long-term organization. It won’t happen overnight, and not all of Fairfax County will be in the same place in 2018. This is a long-term process. I know that. We are looking at a long-term goal, not something to implement across the board in 2018, but it will be helpful in 2019, when there won’t be any large scale campaign operation in Virginia. Let’s be ready.

      We very strongly believe in using bluer parts of Fairfax County to help in other parts. This year, none of our four Delegates had a Republican opponent, and we deliberately encouraged our volunteers to help out with Karrie Delaney, Donte Tanner, Kathy Tran, etc. This ran counter to the Coordinated Campaign, whose field organizers were incentivised to crank up the numbers in their own areas rather than looking at the bigger picture.

      But we still worked to turn out the vote for the statewide candidates in Providence. While we pretty much turned over our precinct organization to the Coordinated Campaign, we did additional work as well, and sent out a precinct letter from each precinct captain targeting certain voters.

      We looked at improvement in our operations compared to four years ago. Not counting absentee votes (which cannot be assigned to districts), Providence gave Ralph Northam 8,192 more votes than it gave Terry McAuliffe in 2013. This is a better improvement than any other magisterial district.

      Running a Democratic Committee is different than running a local campaign. While Fairfax County is larger than a single district, there are the same issues of having strong areas and areas that need building, the same issues of bringing together a large number of people with different strengths and weaknesses to work together towards a common goal.

      It’s not easy. It takes steady, long-term goal oriented organization. But FCDC definitely has the potential to build on its already impressive organization.

    • Paul Jameson

      Let’s start with the statement that Providence “is the bluest of blue strongholds” with lots of members and volunteers. When I became chair, Providence Dems had 79 members, and Providence had an incumbent Republican School Board member. We worked to build up our organization, and worked to defeat the Republican School Board member. Before Reorganization, we built PDDC up to a bit over 200 members (we have 180 members upon Reorganization), and in 2015 Dalia Palchik defeated the Republican School Board member. We didn’t start out as “the bluest of the blue,” but we worked at it. There is nothing unique about Providence that makes it impossible to do in the rest of Fairfax County.

      It must be noted that Obama won in all nine magisterial districts twice, Clinton won in all nine magisterial districts, and Northam won all all nine magisterial districts by impressive margins. All of the districts are different, and that always must be taken into account, but all districts (including Providence) can further develop their organization.

      We were also fully aboard the notion that parts of Fairfax County should help out other parts. This year, none of our four Delegates had Republican opponents, and we strongly encouraged our volunteers to go help out Karrie Delaney, Donte Tanner, Kathy Tran, etc. This was contrary to the Coordinated Campaign, where the field organizers were incentivized to rack up the highest metrics in their own territories rather than looking at the bigger picture.

      When the Coordinated Campaign came to town this year, we already had in place an organization with a precinct captain in every precinct, with the ability to cut turf and canvass in their neighborhoods. We made the entire organization available to the Campaign, which proceeded to vacuum it up and incorporate it into its own organization, disempowering the individual volunteers in the process. We don’t want to supplant the Coordinated Campaign (or whatever it will be called in 2018 and 2020), but we do want the campaign to recognize and work with the organization that’s in place. Again, it will be different in each district, and that should be taken into account.

      Although we worked closely with the campaign, we also did additional activities, such as precinct letters sent out by each precinct captain, which targeted a select group of voters.

      We got better at it each year. The metric we look at is improvement over performance four years ago. Not counting absentee votes (which can’t be assigned to districts), Providence gave Ralph Northam 8,192 more votes that Terry McAuliffe got in Providence four years ago. This was the best improvement over 2013 of any of the districts in Fairfax County.

      So I’m sorry if Todd Smyth got the impression from the compressed speech that we wanted to get rid of the 20 paid full time staffers of a campaign. I certainly don’t.

    • ToddSmyth
  • Anonymous Is A Woman

    We are blessed to have two very good candidates for FCDC chair. I will be supporting Paul Jameson because he has proven to be efficient and effective at leading Providence District.

    As Harriet Hirsch so ably pointed out, his method of organizing Providence District by encouraging volunteers to canvass their own neighborhoods repeatedly and to pull their own lists empowered his volunteers and built familiarity, rapport, and trust between them and those they canvassed regularly.

    Further, I consider Paul’s suggestion to have Fairfax County run their own Combined Campaigns without the DPVA is a plus. Too often the DPVA has hindered rather than helped the Fairfax effort. To be charitable, what might work elsewhere, isn’t always effective in our area. I think Fairfax County has the resources to run our own CCs to flip red districts here. And certainly those from the strongest blue areas can share resources with those in the pinker or more purple areas without needing the DPVA. And that also frees up DPVA to give time, effort, and funding those parts of the state that need it more than we do.

    I will be voting for Paul Jameson because of his helpfulness, creativity, and independence.

    • ToddSmyth

      How would you propose that we raise the additional $180-200,000 to pay for our own 20 full time organizers?

    • Paul Jameson

      Thanks! To be clear, I am not proposing that we supplant a state-wide campaign organization. I am proposing that we organize strongly enough that it’s a more equal partnership, and that the campaign recognize that an organization in which there are enough volunteers that people can “own” neighborhoods and get to know which voters need to be contacted, and which don’t need to be bothered again, is to be encouraged rather than worked around.

      Having a set of paid field organizers on the ground is always helpful. The way the structure was set up, however, the precinct captains and volunteers that we already had in place, and already working before the CC showed up, were just vacuumed up and put into the standard organization. Their special strengths of knowing their neighbors was not used. They were not empowered. And we had no idea how voter targets were selected. Todd Smyth was one of the most vocal complainers about how it was done. And I agreed with him completely.

      That’s what we need to work on.

    • ToddSmyth