Sunday, January 13, 2008

This ain't no party . . .

If, as the late great Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill once said, "all politics is local," then this graphic explains why the Louisiana Democratic Party is in shambles.

I created this map based on data taken from the Louisiana Secretary of State's website. I went parish-by-parish and compared the number of seats on each Democratic Parish Executive Committee to the number of candidates who are either contesting a seat on those committees, or who won election un-opposed.

Every parish (except Orleans, which has a different model) is awarded five at-large seats. Only 142 of the 315 at-large seats in the 63 parishes that have them will be occupied after the February 9th election.

Every parish also has seats based on the number of seats on the parish governing body, or a multiple of those. In a universe of 671 district-level parish executive committee seats in the state, only 245 of those seats will be filled after the February 9th election.

This is not a political party. This is a club!

This fact alone should justify the dismissal of Chris Whittington as chairperson of the party and Danny Ford as executive director. They have squandered the resources given the state party by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) under chairman Howard Dean's "50-State Strategy" program.

I hear Danny Ford has already decided to leave. Chris Whittington is said to be seeking re-election to the post.

In the real world, when a person is in charge of an operation that is an abject failure, that person usually pays for that failure with their job — unless, of course, that person is an official in the Bush administration, in which case the failure is re-spun as a success or the problems are completely denied.

Mr. Whittington should do the honorable thing and stand down from the chairmanship of the party.

The only thing possibly worse than Mr. Whittington keeping his job would be for an operative of Senator Mary Landrieu's to take over the party chairmanship. This is exactly how we got into this mess: the party being viewed only as a tool to foster the election (or re-election) of the highest ranking Democrat on the ticket.

What is needed now is a chairperson who will take a longer view with a focus on party building and an executive director with the energy and commitment to make that vision a reality.

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