Colorado Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak recently sat down to answer a few questions for the Confidential about the Democratic Party in the West and in the state.
In part one, Waak discusses what she thinks contributed to the Democratic victory in 2004, where Democrats won a majority in both the state House and Senate-something that hadn’t happened in forty years. She also talks about her job, and what the Party is up to right now.Q: What do you think has changed-let’s say in the last decade-for the state Democratic Party?
“And so there’s been sort of a continuity because the laws changed too…where earlier you might have done a broad more traditional campaign with lots and lots of media and stuff like that, I think in the last five or six years campaign finance laws narrowed down the focus. I think when it got to 2004, the focus really, of the state party, was try to get Senate seats. Not that they didn’t play to some extent in the Congressional seats, but the Senate seats were the most important thing.
“That was probably appropriate because there was a whole array then of 527s and campaign finance law stuff…people were doing different things-and then the party kind of split off some functions in the sense that the House Majority Project was created by the leadership on the House side, and the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund was created by leadership on the Senate side-specifically to increase the margins in the House and Senate. So while state party focused more on the federal level, [the Project and the Fund] were very much focused on the House and Senate part of it.
“You had at the same time, from I’d say about 2002-2004, and upsurge in a lot of grassroots groups out there that were sort of operating separately for the Party in a sense…Be The Change, Democracy For Colorado, and Progressive Majority came in…there were a whole bunch of different groups largely around candidates. And, while no one was coordinating them in a sense, there was collecting of a force within the party.
“At the same time we were starting to do that, the [Democratic National Committee (DNC)] was creating the fifty state partnership, so it really dovetailed with what we were trying to do, because now we have five people in the field just working the rural areas, and they’ve been doing that for a year now.”
Q: What is your job as Party Chair?
Q: Do you think the West holds great promise for the Democratic Party nationally?
“So I think that demographically-although we are still not as densely populated as the East