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From the Road: Hastings

I stopped by the Hastings Democratic Meetup to talk with them about the 93 County Strategy and get feedback on what we can do to help them build the party.

Hastings is an important community in central Nebraska. With four city council seats and several county offices up in 2006, it's important that we begin to build a strong local party that can help elect Democrats to these positions. Also, our statewide candidates will need to do well in this city, since it's one of the population centers in the area.

The Meetup folks will be working hard over the next few weeks to build up the Democratic community in Hastings: they're meeting in two weeks to address and handwrite postcards to other Democrats in Hastings, inviting them to the next Meetup, and they'll be meeting monthly to strategize on implementing the 93 County Strategy in their community.

The Hastings Meetup takes place on the third Tuesday of every month at Blue Moon Coffee on 2nd Street.

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Catholic Democrats of Nebraska

This is a guest post by Dan Schnizel from the Catholic Democrats of Nebraska.

The role of faith and religion in the American political arena is an issue as old as the country itself. Yet, it seemed to reach a boiling point with the 2004 presidential campaign and election, which forced Americans to confront the uneasy relationship that exists between personal faith and political belief in this country. Though our forefathers intended to create a wall of separation between religion and government, we do not and cannot practice democracy in a moral vacuum. Every voter brings a set of moral convictions, usually influenced by a particular religion, to the voting booth. Though these convictions vary in scope and depth from one person to another, the political reality is that to be successful, a party or candidate must acknowledge that faith is often the decisive factor in determining how an individual votes.

Nowhere is this more evident than with the Catholic vote. A generation ago, the term Catholic Democrat was redundant. At that time, Catholics were heavily blue collar and, because of the strong ties between labor and the Democratic Party, were a consistent voting block. Times change and upwardly mobile Catholics became more affluent and the voting pattern changed. Many Catholics became the Reagan Democrats of the 1980

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From the Road: Scotts Bluff County

I attended the Scotts Bluff County Democrats' monthly meeting last night in Gering to discuss the 93 County Strategy and how they can take ownership of it in their community.

In addition to an open State Senate seat, there are numerous local offices in Scotts Bluff County that Democrats can take back in 2006, from city council seats in Scottsbluff and Gering to county board seats, other county offices, and local boards.

The Scotts Bluff County Democrats are also working to find precinct captains and be visible participants in their community. They'll be at their county fair and other regional festivals.

As part of the 93 County Strategy, we'll be holding a training in Scottsbluff for Democrats in the panhandle (similar to the training we just held in North Platte). The training will be on September 24. You can sign up for the event here.

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Friendt Mailings Unmasked

I shouldn't have been surprised when I got a call from KLIN Friday about the anonymous campaign fliers circulated during this year's Lincoln City Council race. The big news? Glenn Friendt was involved in creating and funding the mysterious mailers targeting Terry Werner and Dan Marvin.

It's no secret that there was bad blood between Friendt and Warner; Friendt appeared in a TV ad criticizing Werner. But Friendt tried to hide his connection to the mailers, and an investigation is underway to determine if the absence of a disclaimer identifying the source of the mailings was illegal. It took a lot of digging to bring this information to the surface, but now through articles such as the one in Saturday's Lincoln Journal Star, Lincolnites know the truth.

When Friendt decided not to run for reelection, he cited partisanship and bickering on the council as one of the main reasons for his decision.

"I'm certainly disappointed" about failed efforts to heighten the level of civility on the seven-member council, he said. Though officially nonpartisan, voting patterns often make it apparent there are four Democrats and three Republicans on the council."

"I don't believe those efforts have been reciprocated by the mayor's majority on the council."
Lincoln Journal Star 5-20-2004

I interviewed Friendt myself that day, and he told me the same thing, that some council members were too partisan. Not knowing that much about the history of the council, I originally thought the street ran both ways and that both sides were equally to blame for the interpersonal problems. The revelation of Friendt's involvement in the election mailings shows that he was the most partisan, grudge-holder on the council. He was a sitting City Council member while actively campaigning against a co-worker. The kicker is, he tried to hide it in a way that might turn out to be illegal. This is not the kind of deviant leadership the folks in Lincoln or the rest of Nebraska deserve. It's just another example of the culture of corruption in the Nebraska Republican Party.

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A Little Help From My Friends

In order to successfully build our Democratic Community, we need to know what we're working with.

This post is a chance for us to learn everything we can from one another -- how each of us can make a contribution to building the Nebraska Democratic Party.

Use the comments area below to join the conversation.

We need to learn from each other the best ways that you folks are doing what you're doing.

How are you able to recruit volunteers?

What has gotten the most attention at your county fair booth?

What are some creative and effective methods you've seen in the past?

How do you encourage college students in your area to become active?

Do you know any good projects for seniors?

How did you always get a good turnout for your events and meetings?

Please take a few minutes and jot down some successful ideas that you have. We'd love to hear from all corners of the state--and beyond.

Keep checking in as we gather more ideas--and make sure to follow up on anything you see that's interesting below:

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From the Road: Dakota County

I met with Dakota County Democrats last night, and had a productive discussion with them about how we can rebuild the Democratic Party in their area.

Dakota County activists strategize how to build the Democratic Party in their area with Ian Russell from the NDP.

Dakota County is one of the few counties in Nebraska that actually has more Democratic than Republican voters -- so it makes it an important area for local and statewide candidates. There are quite a few local Democratic elected officials in the county, and in 2006 there will be elections for South Sioux City Mayor and City Council, and Dakota County offices. As the county party continues to grow, they'll be working on recruiting candidates (or protecting Democratic incumbents) for these offices. Click here to see more information about this county.

As part of our 93 County Strategy, the NDP will be working with the Dakota County Democrats to grow the Democratic community in the South Sioux City and Dakota City areas. Under the leadership of Tim Bahr, the county chairman, the activists in Dakota County seemed ready to roll up their sleeves and go to work: starting next month, they'll have monthly meetings at a coffee shop in town, they'll be calling other Democrats to invite them to the meetings, and they'll be finding candidates to run for office.

Thanks to their hard work, look for new Democratic elected officials and an energized party in Dakota County in 2006.

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From the Road: Douglas County

People representing varying age groups, professions, and backgrounds attended last night's Meetup in Omaha. For Graham C., it was his first political meeting -- a chance to connect with other Democrats in his community. Martha W., a teacher, came because she's frustrated about what the Republican leadership is doing to our country. Kelli O., who's been active in the party before, came to meet some new faces in a casual setting. At any rate, we sure had a lot to talk about.

We shared ideas about how to reach out to other members of the community--through emails, postcards, phone calls and door knocking.

One thing was clear--we need to speak up and let the rest of Nebraska know that the Democratic Party is alive and well.

Last night's Meetup was a great way to meet new faces and to discuss ideas to move the party forward. This will be a regular meeting group on the second Thursday of every month at 7pm at Caffiene Dreams. If you're in the neighborhood, feel free to drop by. You can sign up for the event here.

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NDP Front Page Story

Check out the great story on the front page of the Lincoln Journal Star. It is all about the new 93 County Strategy and reaching out to Nebraskans everywhere. It is great, positive news in a very visible place.

Democrats' goal: Compete across state

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From the Road: Lancaster County

In case you weren't able to attend last night's Lincoln Democratic Party Meetup at MoJava Coffee House, I thought I'd transcribe just a few of the notes I took about what the grassroots were saying about the Democratic Party, the "93 County Strategy," and the 2006 elections.

With the conversation ranging from the 2004 election cycle to running more statewide Democrats in the primary elections to generate more earned media exposure. By the end of the night, the consensus was that the Party has to got to compete for every office in every county possible.

This is no easy task, but as we continued to talk about how to build a broader Democratic community in Lancaster County, one of the participants, Pat N., said something that really hit hard:

"Don't be Hostile…Stay Positive…Be Honest."

Prophetic? Maybe. A good organizing strategy? You bet.

The more everyone talked about what Pat said, showed me that some of the grassroots really wants to be ‘happy warriors' in the effort to persuade voters to support our Party and our candidates. More than anything, we discussed how to turn our budding Democratic community into something more visible and proactive.

"So what do we do next?," asked Jessica M.

Well, beyond hashing out more concrete plans to recruit candidates for local office, the idea was pitched of sending out postcards to friends and family members telling them about next future meetups and local Democratic events.

So check your mailboxes for a postcard from another proud Nebraska Democrat who wants you to visit with us at next month's Lincoln Democratic Party Meetup.

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From the Road: Platte County

Yesterday, Ian and I drove out to Columbus for the Columbus Area Meetup. There, we met with some local activists and talked about how the 93 County Strategy can be applied to their community. Platte County has some interesting races this cycle including the State Senate seat in LD 22, four Board of Supervisors seats, and four Columbus City Council Seats.

It was great to see the energy last night from the folks at the meeting and to hear everyone's ideas: fair booths, back-to-school welcome events, picnics, and a training session in October. This could be the cycle to really put Platte County on the map.

Also on we brainstormed many ways to build up the democratic community in Platte County and to get more people involved. Tom, the Meetup host, mentioned how we can get more Democrats to vote by voting by mail.

It will certainly be exciting to see the progress that Platte County -- as well as each of the other 92 counties -- makes during the next 15 months. Keep checking back for more updates!

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