Getting More Progressives Elected -- And Where You Fit In

Hi, this is Adam Green. I recently left MoveOn to get some new ventures off the ground. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) was first reported here at the Huffington Post. That resulted in kind words of endorsement around the progressive blogosphere from folks like Chris Bowers, David Sirota, Digby, and Atrios.

I figured it would make sense to go into detail about the rationale for this new group -- and to let you know where you fit in.

First, the PCCC mission. As our mission statement points out:

In 2008, one first-time progressive candidate in a key congressional district went through four campaign managers before losing.

Another spent $47,000 to retain a media firm that never produced a single TV ad. Another spent $40,000 on field consultants -- enough to pay 10 field staffers for two months, but which only bought a few hand-holding consultant calls. And others wasted thousands of dollars and weeks of staff time designing C-rate websites.

Every election cycle, inexperienced candidates who run on bold progressive ideas -- candidates who political insiders predict "can't win" -- come within a few points of victory. But too many lose winnable races due to the mistakes and inefficiencies of their campaigns.

Who is getting the backs of these progressive candidates? Who is helping them run competent, efficient campaigns so they can win? Right now, nobody.

...The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) will fill this void - providing needed infrastructure and strategic advice to progressive candidates so they can run first-class campaigns and win.

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One thing I realized at MoveOn -- and that many folks across the blogosphere have written about in recent election cycles -- is that it makes no sense for the progressive community to raise tons of money for candidates who then spend it inefficiently, including on bloated consultant costs. We need to step up and help progressive candidates not just raise money, but run effective campaigns and win.

So, what's the PCCC going to do specifically? Here are the top 3 jobs in the short term:

Job #1 -- helping candidates find super-competent, progressive campaign managers. Too often, folks hire their "political friends" or inexperienced staff. Every relevant decision of the campaign will stem from the campaign management -- including whether to spend money wisely and whether to campaign progressively. And to the extent that consultants are needed, we'll introduce campaigns to outside-the-box-thinking progressives like Bill Hillsman (Paul Wellstone and Ned Lamont's ad guy) and Steve Eichenbaum (Russ Feingold and Tom Perriello's ad guy).

Job #2 -- working with campaigns to implement best practices. One top progressive campaign in 2008 went months with a large field staff that had no daily metrics for success. Basic stuff like that can't happen.

Best practices also means innovation. Technology gives us a golden opportunity to replace some formerly-needed consultants with modern-day people power. As I said in the Huff Post piece, paying TV consultants thousands of bucks for a YouTube video is a waste of money. Opposition research consultants will someday be replaced by the wiki. The examples go on and on. Campaign spending must transform to account for and embrace people-powered technology. Our team of former MoveOn organizers, labor and campaign organizers, and the co-inventor of RSS & Reddit is uniquely suited to help campaigns know how to use the Internet to run people-powered campaigns. And we'll show candidates how to work as partners with the blogosphere and overall progressive community.

Job #3 -- economies of scale. As mentioned above, why do so many candidates spend weeks of staff time and thousands of dollars designing a lackluster website that doesn't have people-powered functionality? It makes no sense. Why not just have a progressive entity that designs the perfect website once and gets it to progressive candidates? There are a bunch of similar economies of scale that can be had to avoid reinventing broken wheels.

(There are also some cool technology-revolution things we have cooking for the long term, but that's for a different day.)

The net result: Progressive candidates save tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in campaign costs, giving them a competitive advantage and allowing them to run more effective campaigns and win.

So, where do you fit it?

Lots of ways.

First, sign up to stay in the loop with us. If we can't communicate with folks who agree with our core mission, we're in trouble.

Second, donate. Thanks to everyone who has given in the past few days. Some people have given $10, while others have given $50 or $100 -- some even opted for monthly recurring donations. I assure you, every bit of support during this tender start-up phase really goes a long way. If you agree with the goal of helping progressive candidates run effective campaigns and win, please consider donating today.

Third, we need your thinking. Does the mission above seem on point? Do you know other examples of inefficiencies that we should be highlighting? Do you know of any amazingly competent and progressive campaign managers that we should be recommending to candidates? Are there any prospective 2010 candidates we should be thinking about? Do you know any progressive video makers, graphic designers, etc. who could help candidates without ripping them off? Do you want to just pitch in and volunteer with the PCCC?

Feel free to respond in the comments below, or email us any time.

The bottom line:
There's a lot of important work to do to get more progressive candidates elected. PCCC will be a vehicle for that goal, but it will take all of us to make it happen. It's totally doable. So, let's do it.

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