Howard Dean Rallies Local Democrats
Former presidential candidate highlights grassroots workshop.
Former Presidential candidate and Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean urged a group of local Democrats to hone their organizational skills at a grassroots training session this weekend.
“We’re going to win the seat this time,” Dean said to the group of over 150 that hope to capture the 10th Congressional District seat for the first time in decades. The newly reconfigured district is considered friendlier to the Democrats.
The sessions, held Saturday and Sunday at the United Autoworkers facility in Lincolnshire, were organized by the Tenth Congressional District Democrats and Democracy for America (DFA), an outgrowth of Dean’s 2004 Presidential campaign.
Another candidate, Deerfield business consultant Brad Schneider, made an appearance earlier in the day, according to Tenth Congressional District Democrats Chair and 10th District Committeewoman Lauren Beth Gash. The third candidate so far is Wheeling attorney Robert McKenzie.
Campaign workers for Schneider and Sheyman also attended the event.
“It’s an opportunity to focus in an academic environment on ways for activists to hone their skills,” Gash said.
'More doors than Dold'
During his speech, Dean encouraged the group to disregard the attacks coming from right wing media and conservative activist groups.
“Despite what Fox wants you to believe and the crackpot Tea Party folks want you to believe, you actually do actually have the power in yourself to change this country,” Dean said.
Community organizing, according to Dean, will help Democrats combat an opposition he described as as well-financed and fine-tuned in propaganda techniques.
“There is no substitute for personal contact,” Dean said. “When we win in this district it’s not because we’re going to have a lot of money and go on TV in Chicago. We’re going to win in this district because you knocked on more doors than Dold.”
Creating personal relationships with voters will outweigh the efforts to discredit Democrats, Dean said.
“We need you to knock on the same door four times,” Dean said. “Once you establish a relationship with someone, you have more credibility than all the negative ads.”
Democracy in 'serious trouble'
Northbrook resident Sharon Sanders, whose home lies in the newly reconfigured 9th Congressional District represented by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston), said she understood Dean's message.
“We have to be the foot soldiers, knocking on doors, talking to people, and getting the message out,” Sanders said. “I’m not sure enough Democrats really understand what’s at stake, what serious trouble our democracy is really in."
When he wasn't discussing campaign strategy, Dean outlined a grim reality facing the country's middle class. The average chief executive officer today makes 534 times more than their average wage earners, according to Dean, who said that Henry Ford earned only 50 times more than his assembly line workers when he ran Ford Motor Company.
“I call that the continuing war on the Middle Class and the working people of America being waged by the Republican Party,” Dean said. “[Working people] ought to be able to make a decent living and hope their kids can do better than they did. That’s the American dream.”