DNC Chairman Tim Kaine

The choice has been made:

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will become chairman of the Democratic National Committee later this month, serving as the top political messenger for Barack Obama’s administration even while he finishes his final year in the governor’s mansion, several sources said.

Kaine, who emerged as one of Obama’s vice presidential finalists this summer, will operate from Richmond in a part-time capacity until January 2010, when he will become the full-time DNC chairman. Kaine is constitutionally barred from running for reelection.

A personal friend of the president-elect, Kaine is a gregarious chief executive who is known to relish political combat and helped put Virginia in the Democratic column for the first time in almost 50 years.

I volunteered for Kaine back in 2005–he’s no Howard Dean, but he does look like a pretty solid pick.   Plus, since he’s a close ally of Obama I imagine that the DNC and White House political operation will operate in tandem.  I just hope that Kaine continues Dean’s legacy of building a 50-state Democratic infrastructure and building a national network of small donors.

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VA-GOV: McAuliffe’s In

Former DNC Chairman and Hillary Clinton campaign chair Terry McAuliffe is officially running for Governor of Virginia.

McAuliffe was Chairman of the DNC from 2001 to 2005; in that time, Democrats lost two elections; the party’s fundraising consistently lagged behind the GOP’s; messaging and party discipline were terrible; and the party backed a slew of idiotic self-defeating policies.

But it would be completely unfair to blame all of that on McAuliffe–even if he did everything right, he might not have been able to single-handedly solve those problems.

What I do blame McAuliffe for, though, is the way he ran the party: poorly.   Under his leadership, state Democratic parties atrophied, starved of funds and talent.  Little to no effort was put into building the kind of web-based small donor network that propelled Howard Dean to national prominence under McAuliffe’s watch.  Under him, Democrats were consistently incapable of putting enough boots on the ground to win elections.  Under McAuliffe, the networks of volunteers and experienced political operatives that would go on to elect  Barack Obama President were never built.  Under him, millions of dollars of potential donations from small donors was never collected.

McAuliffe is politically old-fashioned.  He’s from the school of thought that says as long as you have enough wealthy donors willing to max out and as long as you can afford a lot of television commercials, you’ll win.  His leadership was fundamentally out of touch with the reality of American politics.  Every advancement Howard Dean made could have at least been started under McAuliffe; he simply refused to take a risk and modernize the Democratic Party. And that’s not the kind of leadership we need here in Virginia.

So, unless something major changes, I won’t be voting for Terry McAuliffe.  Thanks, but no thanks.