ODP invited us bloggers to join Chris Redfern on a conference call this afternoon, which is awesome. ?I feel a detente of sorts beginning to thaw across the ODP-blogger landscape, largely because of how this primary season is shaping up. ?That’s great news for the fall.

I’m not sure why there isn’t more of this type of outreach, other than an old, tired, and now cliche insistence on continuing an arms length relationship between bloggers and ODP. ?Primaries tend to exacerbate that arms length relationship. ?Which brings me to my question for Chris Redfern on today’s call.

Will ODP, Redfern, or others in the leadership of the party, support an effort to eliminate from ODP’s bylaws the provision for pre-primary endorsements in non-incumbent races? ?This provision in ODP’s bylaws is the single most divisive force within ODP – it is the source of every major battle between ODP and a blogosphere which is now permanent in Ohio, has influence, and reflects the facts on the ground in our party’s base.

As great as pre-primary endorsement fights are for blog traffic (and boy, are they GREAT for blog traffic), these fights aren’t good for the party at all. ?Conversely, open primaries have been conclusively proven to be very good for the party. ?They energize diverse segments of the base, force them to organize at the grassroots, and strengthen our eventual nominee statewide. ?See Barack vs. Hillary. ?Getting rid of pre-primary endorsements in the bylaws seems like a no-brainer.

For example, the whole Garrison fiasco. ?The only reason Jennifer Garrison was able to hang on as long as she did, keeping other candidates out of the SOS primary who could have spent months organizing a rising tide of this party’s base, was due to a belief within the party (rightly or wrongly) that Garrison was an ODP choice, and would get an ODP endorsement. ? The opposition to Garrison thus largely became opposition to an ODP endorsement of Garrison, and in the end, Garrison had to be forced out, involuntarily, messily, with the threat of just such an endorsement going against her.

Had ODP bylaws explicitly forbidden pre-primary endorsements in non-incumbent races, Garrison would have drawn an opponent months ago. ?That opponent would have galvanized a motivated electorate drawn from a diverse set of constituencies to organize at the grassroots to beat Garrison at the ballot box, rather than trying to beat her in a back room. ?Garrison herself would have been forced to organize, rather than resting on endorsements and an assumption that she had the inside track for the ODP endorsement. ?The battle would have been loud and boisterous, but it would have been open and transparent, with a clear and undisputed winner identified on election day, yielding enormous benefits at the grassroots.

If ODP has learned any lessons from the last 5 years of engagement with the blogosphere, the Number One Lesson should be that pre-primary endorsements are counterproductive, stifle the grassroots, and lead to bad blood long term.

I’d like to ask Chris Redfern about this on today’s call, so I’m emailing this to ODP in case they’d like to prepare an answer. ?If a movement toward such a change in ODP’s bylaws does emerge from the top of the party, Ohio’s bloggers will be the first, and loudest allies.

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