Shop Talk: The Dean

Posted July 16, 2008 at 6:28pm

The California Democratic Party has appointed state Sen. Dean Florez as chairman of its 58 County Strategy.

[IMGCAP(1)]Democratic registration is up in the Golden State and Republican enrollment is down, giving the Democrats a potentially even greater advantage than they had earlier this decade.

Most House seats are safe for the incumbent party, although the Democrats are eying the open, solidly conservative 4th district near Sacramento and the Republican-leaning 50th district in northern San Diego County held by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R). Republicans are hoping to oust Rep. Jerry McNerney (D), who holds the GOP-leaning 11th district in the Central Valley that he won from then-Rep. Richard Pombo (R) in 2006.

The state Democratic Party’s 58 County Strategy — California has 58 counties — aims to turn out votes for Democrats in every corner of the Golden State, including those counties where a majority of the voters lean conservative and tend to vote Republican. In the past few elections, California’s electoral map has looked similar to that of the United States as a whole, with Democrats performing well in coastal counties and Republicans dominating the inland counties.

Florez holds a legislative district in the Central Valley, a region of the state where Republicans excel, be it in local, state or federal contests. Florez originally ascended to the California Senate by defeating a Republican incumbent, and the state Democratic Party is hoping he can bring some of that magic to parts of the state where Democrats have recently played second fiddle.

“I look forward to putting Dean’s contagious energy to work,” CDP Chairman Art Torres said in a statement.

Florez’s job as 58 County Strategy chairman will be to serve as a conduit between the state Democratic Party and the county parties.

He is also charged with helping to recruit 5,000 neighborhood leaders, whose job it will be to talk to 25 of their neighbors before the Nov. 4 general election and urge them to vote Democratic.

Anchorage Away. Jeff Giertz has taken a leave of absence from his job as Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D-Iowa) communications director to serve as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s (Ill.) communications director for Alaska.

Braley’s press secretary, Nicole Buseman, is handling Giertz’s duties while he is away. Giertz worked on Braley’s 2006 campaign.

Seidler Up! Erin Seidler has left her position as Iowa Democratic Party communications director to serve in a similar position on Becky Greenwald’s campaign.

Greenwald, the chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party, is challenging Rep. Tom Latham (R) in the 4th district.

Emily’s List. Emily Lockwood has been hired as Internet director for EMILY’s List, which raises money and provides political support to female Democratic candidates who favor abortion rights.

Lockwood comes to EMILY’s List from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) failed presidential campaign, where she served as deputy Internet director. EMILY’s List was a big backer of Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary, which was won by Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.).

Previously, Lockwood worked for Planned Parenthood, where she helped manage the pro-abortion rights group’s online fundraising and advocacy efforts. Lockwood got her start in politics working for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Upsey Dacey. The Service Employees International Union has hired Amy Dacey as government relations director. In that capacity, she will oversee federal legislation and help build SEIU’s federal executive branch policy program.

Additionally, Dacey will work with governors, mayors and other federal, state and local intergovernmental organizations, in — as the labor union said in announcing Dacey’s hiring — “anticipation of the Obama administration.”

Dacey previously served as Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) traveling political director on the 2004 presidential campaign, national political director for Kerry’s Keeping America’s Promise political action committee, deputy political director for both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, state legislative program director for EMILY’s List and deputy chief of staff for Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

Special Interests. In another attempt to provide candidates with instant information, a pair of Southern California political novices have launched an online tool for constituents to send feedback to their elected officials., launched last month by twin sisters Sandra Brazier and Dee Jeffries, allows users to send feedback via the site to their state and local officials at a cost of $3 per year. Users can also complete issue-based surveys and cast their vote in a mock presidential election.

“Politicians are going to have more feedback about what their constituents are thinking,” said Brazier, a legal analyst whose hometown Congressman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has a penchant for the kind of oversight that is aiming for.

Brazier’s site compiles data into reports that are faxed or e-mailed to elected officials with the opinions and contact information of its users. The service is free for Members. The Web site is privately funded and currently does not have any advertisers.

“Congressmen are going to have to be more responsive because of the information they’ll be receiving,” Brazier said.

Jessica Brady contributed to this report.

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