Monday, May 7, 2012

Chuck Thies offers campaign advice. Too bad it's not for nonprofits.

We Love DC covered politico Chuck Thies' Twitter campaign primer earlier this month.   The post, a combination of Thies' tweets Storified and an interview of Thies, offers a practical guide to the basics of campaigning, from raising money to getting media coverage to developing and sharing campaign materials.

We Love DC introduced the primer with this:

The world of city politics in the District is often murky, and as of late, ridden with scandals. On Sunday afternoon, local political consultant and commentator Chuck Thies put on a little lecture on what it takes to be a candidate, and how important it can be to plan ahead. The tweets seemed to come out of left field, though, but when I talked with Thies (via Twitter, naturally) he pointed at the editorial from the Post today on Instant Runoff Voting.

"[It was] a few things. 1) I was wholly unimpressed with the challengers’ campaigns this cycle; 2) the WaPo editorial on IRV is not the answer," Thies said. He continued, "IRV is roulette where the weak can prevail." For Thies, the biggest issue is not just the quality of candidate stock, but rather the conditions we’re operating in: "[the] biggest impediment [is] the state of our politics. Very few people in their right mind would willfully wade into a sewer."


Thies also had a set of remarks for local organizers: Start building. "[T]he reform-minded activists and residents need to get organized. They need a political boss who has fortitude, knowledge, guts and soldiers. Build a machine. [T]oo often, liberals and progressives eschew the concept of political bosses and arm-twisting. [I]n politics the strong survive."

What struck me as interesting was the timing of Thies' tweets and the We Love DC follow-up.   Throughout the latest campaign season, comprised of the April 3 primary and the to-be-held May 15 Ward 5 special election, nonprofits have been notably absent (exception: SOME).   There are a lot of legal activities in which nonprofits can engage during campaign season.   Nonprofit VOTE for example, reports that nonprofits can engage in get out the vote efforts, voter engagement, organizing a candidate forum, and voter registration activities.

So while Thies and others are engaged in campaign work, for candidates or as observers, nonprofits seems to be avoiding even the sidelines.   I'd love to hear that my assessment of the situation is wrong, that nonprofits are playing a role this election year.   If your organization has done something, please comment.

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