After discussing this among ourselves, the members of Blue Virginia’s “executive board” are proud to enthusiastically endorse Peter Rousselot for Democratic Party of Virginia Chair. In recent weeks, we have written a great deal about this race, and we encourage you to read all those articles. For now, though, here’s our thinking on the endorsement. At the end, also see excerpts from the endorsements by individual Blue Virginia “executive board” members.
Today, Blue Virginia strongly and enthusiastically endorses Peter Rousselot as the next chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia. Several of us know Peter Rousselot personally, while others have never met him. However, we are all impressed with his record of accomplishment as two-term chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC). This includes building the party in Arlington itself and also serving as a strong source of support for Democratic candidates across the Commonwealth. How Peter Rousselot achieved this was doing things the “old-fashioned way” – dedication, energy, and hard work – combined with a keen understanding of what’s required to wage and win elections in the 21st century. In short, Peter Rousselot “gets it” and also “gets it done.” We’re convinced that Rousselot will continue his impressive record of success as DPVA chair.
We are particularly impressed with Peter Rousselot’s detailed, clear vision for the job of DPVA chair. For starters, Rousselot will build on his personal knowledge of committee-level organizing by implementing an exciting “134-local-committee strategy,” modeled after Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy. Along these same lines, Rousselot has pledged to “contest every seat” in the General Assembly. As part of this effort, Rousselot would provide assistance to Democratic candidates in a variety of ways, such as by “drastically cut[ting] the current voter database access fee for all Democratic candidates in races with an incumbent Republican or an open seat,” and by “[providing] pre-packaged technical help so candidates can have their campaigns using DPVA’s online resources effectively, as quickly as possible.” Finally – and this is important – Rousselot has pledged to be a “full-time chair.” Here at Blue Virginia, we strongly agree with Rousselot that “[t]he challenges and opportunities facing DPVA are so significant that DPVA’s next Chair should spend full time on them.”
Other highlights from Rousselot’s vision for DPVA chair include:
*”DPVA should never be tied too closely to any single Democratic elected official or candidate, [but] should be an independent force for building the Democratic Party in Virginia, drawing on the wisdom and experience of all Democrats from our Democratic elected officials to the grassroots.”
*”DPVA should play a leadership role in continuously presenting and reinforcing a positive Democratic message and criticizing damaging Republican proposals. ”
*”DPVA should be a catalyst for grassroots Democrats in all areas of Virginia, with a concentration on the most strategic vote-rich areas.”
And finally, a message near and dear to our progressive activist hearts:
“As the next DPVA Chair works to restore relationships with the Democratic netroots, the Chair should continue to look for ways in which we can all work together to advance our Democratic goals, understanding that agreement will not always be possible, but that the relationship is too valuable to remain in disrepair.”
In sum, Peter Rousselot will make a superb, full-time, dedicated and effective chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia. Given the challenges we face now as a party, this is exactly what we need to continue our great record of success of the last decade. Certainly, we should ask for and expect no less from the party of Thomas Jefferson, FDR, JFK and Barack Obama. We would greatly appreciate the serious consideration of Peter Rousselot’s candidacy by all voting members of the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Central Committee.
Ken Bernstein (“teacherken)
Lowell Feld (“lowkell)
Miles Grant (“The Green Miles”)
Eric Grim (“Eric”)
Dave Leichtman (“Dave”)
Kathy Welch (“Kathy in Blacksburg”)
Alan Zimmerman (“Aznew”)
With that, here are individual statements by Blue Virginia “front pagers.”
“I’ve known Peter Rousselot since 2006, when he was a tremendous help to Jim Webb’s campaign for Senate against George Allen. As the Webb campaign’s netroots coordinator, I found Peter Rousselot to be among the very best committee chairs in the state, and also one of the most attuned to new ideas, new technologies, and attracting new people to the campaign and to the party more broadly. Over the past few years, I’ve watched as Peter Rousselot has led the Arlington County Democratic Committee to success after success. I’ve observed Peter’s hard work, dedication, intelligence, and diplomatic skills in action. I’ve also came to know and respect Peter as a friend. Today, I couldn’t be happier to see him running for chair of our party. I strongly endorse his candidacy and look forward to his election!” — Lowell Feld (“lowkell”), founder and editor, Blue Virginia (Arlington, VA)
“It is imperative that the Democratic Party of Virginia find a new way to relate to the citizens of the Commonwealth, one that emphasizes the concerns of the working people who need to have their issues addressed by the party leadership. An excellent start would be for the party to choose a chair who has worked with the grassroots, who understands the importance of growing local committees, and who has a record of achievement. Peter Rousselot is such a person. I strongly support his candidacy for chairman of the DPVA.” – “Elaine in Roanoke” Owens, Grassroots Organizer, (Botetourt County, VA)
“Peter’s ability to build consensus, willingness to reach out to different constituencies and bold progressive values are exactly what the Democratic Party of Virginia needs right now. He also has exactly the kind of leadership style you want to lead a large organization filled with strong personalities — level-headed, fair, and relentlessly focused on what really matters: Results – “The Green Miles” Grant Progressive Environmental Blogges, Falls Church, VA
“I think we need a full-time DPVA in these difficult times, and not a place-filler… someone with good administrative and political experience.” — Teddy Goodson, Democratic activist and donor, (Fairfax, VA)
“Peter has demonstrated that he knows how to build a party organization. What he accomplished in Arlington demonstrates that. He has the ability to recruit good people. He knows how to listen, but also can act decisively when firm direction is needed. He understands, as did Howard Dean for the DNC, that we cannot leave any race uncontested, that we can ignore no part of the state… Peter understands traditional party organizations, but also understands both grass roots organizing and the impact of the netroots. It is hard to think of another political figure in the DPVA who has all of those understandings. He will devote himself full-time to building up the party…The future of DPVA depends upon having the proper, dynamic leadership, from someone who not only can inspire but organize. I enthusiastically endorse Peter Rousselot. — Ken “teacherken” Bernstein, Daily Kos and Blue Virginia blogger and teacher (Arlington, VA)
“Peter has shown that he has the acumen to do what it takes to reform at the local level. It’s my firm belief that if given the opportunity to do so at the state level, he won’t disappoint – in fact, he’ll excel. So if you’re a voting Central Committee member and you’re reading this, I ask you one favor: give Peter a fair shake. Talk to the man, hear him out, and weigh your options. We have a chance to set the tone for DPVA for the next decade. I think you’ll find that Peter is the person to lead us as DPVA Chair.” – Dave Leichtman, Democratic grassroots activist (Arlington, VA)
“In my view, a vibrant, independent and motivated Netroots that works in reasonable harmony with the DPVA…is of absolute critical importance to ultimate victory by Progressives in the battle of ideas currently raging across the Commonwealth and Nation. Mr. Rousselot’s diagnosis of the current situation – “Like most relationships in trouble, this relationship has suffered from erroneous expectations on both sides”…seems to me like the right place to start moving this relationship forward. What’s more, Mr. Rousselot sees it as part of his role to make the first move in repairing this relationship. To me, this speaks to a leadership style and strategy aimed at achieving a constructive, two-way relationship between the party and the Netroots, as opposed to simply trying to whip the Netroots into following the party line.” — Alan “Aznew” Zimmerman, Democratic grassroots activists (Charlottesville, VA)
“I support Peter primarily for two reasons: 1. In a Democratic stronghold such as Arlington Peter could have “phoned it in”, but instead he’s pushed to strengthen the party and increase Democratic margins. We need that positive go-get-’em attitude that’s been lacking at the state level; 2. Peter will bring a change that the Democratic Party so desperately needs – pushing ideas and candidates that represent what the people of Virginia need and want rather than those that represent special interests and lobbyists. This is one of the keys to winning back the moderates, independents, and undecideds and I think Peter is a person who will make that happen.” – Eric Grim, Democratic grassroots activist (Fairfax, VA)
“After major losses in Virginia over two consecutive election cycles, it’s time for new vision and new blood at the DPVA. It’s not enough to blame the national political climate or the candidates — real leadership means taking responsibility, identifying the core problems and implementing solutions, applying strategic vision and injecting energy into the organization you lead.
“Peter has shown the type of leadership as chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee that we need at the head of the DPVA. Just look at the enormous Democratic voting percentages that have been achieved in Arlington — yes it is a Democratic-leaning area, but these things don’t happen by accident.
“This is not the time to keep trying the same old, same old and hoping that it works. The ’08 Obama campaign showed that the way to victory requires bringing the grassroots — including “outsiders” like the young and minorities — into the fold, rather than leaving it all to the insiders to go it alone while the rest of us have to trust them. We need a leader who can and will open the doors of the DPVA to the Obama Generation in a way that makes all feel welcome and appreciated. I believe that Peter Rousselot is the best candidate for the job, and that is why I encourage all DPVA members to support him for the Chairmanship.” – “kindler” (Fairfax, VA)
“We are just beginning to emerge from a fractious 2009 state race and a 2010 Congressional hammering. And so, it has never been more important to select a party chair who will unite us and move us vigorously, assertively and effectively forward. Peter Rousselot is the only candidate who will effectively bridge the differences dividing Virginia’s Dems. That’s because he respects the rich diversity of opinion within our party’s big tent. He’s best positioned to capitalize on that in bringing forth his every-county-counts strategy. Here in Montgomery County, VA we have an strong and effective organization. But Peter has the vision to move us forward with heightened neighborhood organization, which will pay rich electoral dividends. Additionally, his ideas for technical and boots-on-the-ground support for all districts in Virginia will help us reclaim Virginia’s top offices and capture most of its congressional delegation. I strongly support Peter Rousselot for DPVA chair.” – “Kathy in Blacksburg” Welch, Democratic grassroots activist (Blacksburg, VA)
“Peter Rousselot promises an opportunity for a frank assessment of all aspects of the DPVA strategy and whether its operations serve the interests of its constituency or are too easily distracted. The DPVA is in dire need of a leadership philosophy and purpose that serves all Virginia, connects with all constituents, and is not focused on any region(s) or individual(s). As the former chair of a very successful local committee, he has demonstrated that he can effectively organize and implement. Knowing what it takes for a local committee to excel is essential for getting the most out of efforts in all of Virginia’s 134 localities. Peter Rousselot will dedicate himself to that end and the DPVA will be better for it.” – Dan Sullivan, Democratic grassroots activist (Waynesboro, VA)