What does the local Democratic Party do?

I read about all these Democratic Party organizations — the DNC, the DCCC, and the Illinois Democratic Party just to name a few — and I'm confused about how the local party fits into that structure. What do you do that's different from these other groups, and why should I care about the local party?

It is confusing. We often talk about "The Democratic Party" as if there is one organization with one leadership team that we all answer to. It's a lot more complicated than that.

The alphabet soup of Democratic organizations that are focused on national- and state-level politics don't have much to do with us locally. The Democratic Party organizations include:

  • The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is focused mainly on Presidential politics, developing a national platform, and running the party convention where the Democratic Presidential candidate is chosen. This is the organization most people think of as "The Democratic Party."
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) helps recruit and support Congressional candidates.
  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) helps recruit and support Senatorial candidates.
  • The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) helps recruit and support State Legislature candidates.
  • The Democratic Party of Illinois (DPI) also helps recruit and support State Legislature candidates, as well as state-wide candidates for Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, and Comptroller.

That's a bit of an over-simplification, but the important thing to note is that none of these organizations pay much attention to local and county politics. That's where we come in. It's true that we also help candidates for all those other offices, but our primary focus is on helping candidates for local, township and county offices.

We work hard to find candidates to run for these offices, but we've found that the best candidates recruit themselves. We give them the tools and training to be successful, help them attract volunteers and donors, and provide a county-level structure to help them run their campaigns. We also provide direct "in-kind" support. This often takes the form of direct mail and digital advertising, as well as other services like candidate photography, graphic design, and video production. One of the most valuable services we provide is access and training for VoteBuilder, a campaign database system that includes voter history and targeting tools. It's exactly the same software used by our Presidential candidates, but with access only to our county.

Another thing to note is that we don't receive financial support from any of the other Democratic organizations, and we don't get our marching orders from them. We run the party locally to the best of our ability, and raise our own money to support our operations. We succeed when local people like you get involved. We fail when you don't. It's really that simple.

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The Democratic Party of McHenry County