Thursday, November 06, 2003

Dean's Big Decision

I got an email from the Dean campaign yesterday, stating that I, and the rest of the Dean supporters, will have an opportunity this Thursday, through an online vote, to decide whether or not Dean will accept federal matching funds. First, of all, the decision to hold the vote is a brilliant strategic move for the campaign. It builds on everything that has made his candidacy strong. It is probably a given that his supporters will vote for him to forego the funds, but simply allowing them to have that input is a big pat on the back and sign of recognition on Dean's part of all the work that his supporters have done for him. As he says in the email:

"This decision is no longer mine to make. This is a campaign of the people, by the people and for the people. Your successful effort of raising a historic amount of money through small contributions has made this choice possible. This is why I am putting this decision in your hands."

I am glad to see Dean and his staff continue to seek new ways in which to involve and excite their supporters. Additionally it gives Dean a convenient cover with which to back away from his previous statements that he would participate in the matching program.

From a strategic point of view, it is a significant decision. The matching funds would serve to extend his existing lead and getting a big chunk of cash dropped in his lap would greatly enhance his position for the primaries. However, assuming that he wins the primaries, the $45m spending cap that accompanies the matching funds would severely limit his ability to compete with Bush's media onslaught through next summer to the party nominations. Rejecting the match leaves him with less of a lead (or no lead if one of the other front runners accepts the match) for the primaries, but leaves him free to raise enough money to continue his campaign up through next fall.

I support what I presume will be the decision (to reject). I also hope that Kerry and the other top contenders do the same. I think it will be very important that the Democratic nominee not allow Bush to completely dominate the summer leading up to the election. With the record war-chest he's raising, Bush could blow them out of the water with a media blitz the same way he did John McCain in 2000. I think the amount of money Bush is raising, in conjunction with the $45m spending cap, is a death knell for the federal fund matching program.

No comments: