There are a couple things at work in regards to the lack of information about the LDCC (Lowell Dem City Committee) and local party apparatus. First, there’s the time-honored tradition of apathy and lack of interest. In this, we are all guilty, both insiders and outsiders alike. Second, there is a pull to keep the information within a small number of apparatchiks; the fewer hands, the more access for each. This is how people like Meehan and Panagiotakos keep getting elected unchallenged – apathy and insider politics go hand in hand.
So, I decided to do my best to explain the process, and generate interest for opening up the system and letting that light in. It’s up to you all to heed the call and do the very little it would take to actually create amazing change in the Lowell Democratic party.
The Democratic caucuses (coming up in February) are when local Town/City Committees get together to vote on delegates to go to the State Convention (in June 2006, in Worcester). Every statewide candidate, from governor on down, needs to get a minimum of 15% of the state’s Democratic delegates voting for him in order to get on the ballot for next September’s primary. This is presumably to knock off any unserious candidates. There’s a couple of caveats – first, any candidate which can get 50% or more of the delegate votes will be officially “endorsed” by the party and it will say so on the ballot (making it really tough for the challenger). This endorsement is something that we’re most eager to deny Reilly (good lord, the man isn’t even showing up to most events, why should he get party endorsement??) Second, the rules for delegate voting have been changed, so there is one shot and one shot only. It used to be that candidates had three opportunities to get their 15%, and a lot of delegate-shuffling happened at these conventions, but for better or worse there’s only one vote taken now.
What does this have to do with you, a Patrick-supporting Lowell Democrat (or even “unenrolled” who wants to participate as a Dem this time around)? Well, we need you at the caucuses in February, at least as a voter if not running as a delegate! For the caucuses, we put together “slates” – groups of people running as delegates for the same candidate – and each person running as delegate brings as many people as they can get with them to vote for them and to vote for the rest of the slate as well. Let’s say Jane is running as delegate; she’s running on the Patrick slate with Jim and Becky. Jane brings five friends with her who will vote for her, and Jane instructs them to vote for Jim and Becky too. And both Jim and Becky each bring five friends themselves and do the same. That means you suddenly have fifteen votes for the Patrick slate. If enough people show up to vote for the slate, then you could easily be sending all open delegate seats in a ward – or even the whole city – to Patrick come June.
There’s a few more things to know. First, Lowell has eleven wards. Each ward sends delegates to the convention. The Ward Chair is automatically a delegate, and the rest of the seats are considered open (though often the same people are sent time and again to the Convention – this needs to change!). If I recall, there’s 3 or 4 open seats per ward. That’s upwards of 40 delegate seats open.
I promise, if you get yourself registered as a Dem (if you aren’t already) by December 31, the rest is cakewalk. And don’t worry – if you decide to run as a delegate in Ward 10 and your friend, a fellow Patrick supporter, is in Ward 5 – we’ll plug them in, and get you people to vote for you as a delegate. Need to know what Ward you live in? Here’s a handy map [warning, large PDF]. Keep in mind that being a delegate will cost you $75.00 to go to the convention in June – please don’t let that stop you from running, we’ll raise the money for you if needed.
One last thing: still sitting on the fence about Deval? Not sure you want to support him yet? Well, make sure you’re registered as a Dem by December 31st, and come and meet him in Lowell on January 8! I’m not kidding, we’re working on getting him up here from 5-6:15pm on that Sunday. What’s the worse that happens, you register to vote and then decide not to go to the caucus after all? There are worse things in life!
I know it’s the holidays (I’m busy too) but seriously, this is such an easy thing to do. If you’re tired of apathy and insularity in Lowell politics, we can turn it around quick: all it takes is critical mass. We’ll do the rest.
To review: your homework is to ensure you are registered as a Democrat at your current place of residence, then to start talking to your friends who might support Patrick and get them to do so as well. Think about keeping January 8th from 5 to 6:15 open so you can meet Deval. And keep an eye here on this blog for the next steps. If you’re interested in helping coordinate, please email me at Lynne at leftinlowell.com.