Come On, Alaska

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We could get a Democrat to replace the amazingly corrupt Don Young. Jake Metcalfe could become the latest demonstration of the crazy idea that a political party ought to compete in all 50 states.

alaska democratic party

Then Dean wanted to know how many organizers the state party now had on the ground, and Teeters told him there was just one: Teeters himself. The D.N.C. created his job — along with a position for a communications director — last year as part of Dean’s signature program, known as the 50-state strategy. Under this program, the national party is paying for hundreds of new organizers and press aides for the state parties, many of which have been operating on the edge of insolvency. The idea is to hire mostly young, ambitious activists who will go out and build county and precinct organizations to rival Republican machines in every state in the country. “We’re going to be in places where the Democratic Party hasn’t been in 25 years,” Dean likes to say. “If you don’t show up in 60 percent of the country, you don’t win, and that’s not going to happen anymore.”

In paying for two new staffers, Dean had, virtually overnight, doubled the size of Alaska’s beleaguered state party, which used to consist of only an executive director and a part-time fund-raiser. But now, as Dean considered the vastness of the state’s landscape, he decided that one organizer wasn’t enough. “In most states, we have three or four,” Dean said, thinking out loud. “Seems like you should really have more. We should be able to find that money in the budget.”

That night, after meeting with Dean at the sad little storefront office that houses the state party, Alaska’s party chairman, Jake Metcalfe, announced to 400 assembled Democrats at a fund-raiser that Dean had just promised to hire an additional organizer for the state. The ballroom erupted in grateful applause as Dean sat there beaming. The members of his staff, gently rolling their eyes, began calling back to Washington, warning the political staff that they would need to find the money for yet another salary in, of all places, Alaska.