Electing Democrats at the County Level Matters
Road to Blue, Blue Counties = Blue States
The National Democratic County Officials (NDCO) is the official campaign arm of the Democratic Party dedicated to electing Democrats at the county level. The NDCO Chair, Vice Chair and Immediate Past Chair are members of the Democratic National Committee, and the Chair serves on the DNC Executive Committee. NDCO members serve in over 3000 county governments in all 50 states.
NDCO represents and supports a broad diversity of elected officials from all corners of this nation: rural, urban and suburban. NDCO provides training and campaign support to elect first time office holders, and reelect incumbent Democrats. With the help of NDCO, Democrats are able to run successful campaigns for county office in states all over the country.
NDCO’s Board and staff focus on three primary objectives 1) Strengthening existing partnerships with NDCO’s allies, and creating strategic partnerships with additional organizations. 2) Increasing NDCO's political activity in order to have a greater impact on electing Democrats at the county level. 3) Creating partnerships on key issues by connecting our allies with Democratic county officials.
Road to Blue, Blue Counties = Blue States, is NDCO’s program to directly/indirectly assist Democrats running for county office. NDCO is partnering with the Democratic Party and Party allies to educate, inform and prepare county officials for their own campaigns, and become messengers for Democratic candidates and NDCO partners.
2013 and 2014 was a time of growth and expansion for NDCO. NDCO successfully increased the size of our Board of Directors to include representation from over twenty states. NDCO raised more money in two years than it had in the previous seven years combined, and hired fulltime staff to oversee the execution of a political and fundraising program. For the first time in NDCO’s history, NDCO launched "Road to Blue, Blue Counties = Blue States, a program to assist Democrats running for county office in eight battleground states. And, NDCO created the NDCO Online Action Center; which serves as a message center, campaign services platform and policy forum for Democratic county officials.
Over the last two years, NDCO’s Board and staff focused on three primary objectives I) Strengthening existing partnerships with NDCO’s allies, and creating strategic partnerships with additional organizations. II) Increasing NDCO's political activity in order to have a greater impact on electing Democrats at the county level. 3) Creating partnerships on key issues and programs by connecting our allies with Democratic county officials.
After a series of difficult elections, now more than ever is there a need for an organization like NDCO to step-up and do more to help elect Democrats at the local level. Organizations at the state and national level spend very little time, money or resources on candidates running for county office. In order to avoid the type of losses that have taken place over the last twenty years, there must be greater investment in candidates running for office at the local level. Over the next two years NDCO has two primary objectives: I. Lobby state and local parties, labor, business/corporations, Democratic allies, etc., to become more active and invest in county races. II. NDCO’s direct investment in county races in the form of campaign trainings, access to campaign resources and direct/indirect contributions to candidates.
NDCO’s mission has always been is to help elect Democrats at the county level. Now NDCO is expanding the organization’s mission and will invest in county races by building relationships with candidates before they declare their intention to run, and continues through the campaign and then after they are elected. For that reason, the NDCO has reorganized to focus the organization’s efforts on six different areas: I. Education II. Identification & Recruitment III. Training IV. Mentoring V. Publicity VI. Connecting.
NDCO will educate state parties, local parties, labor, business/corporations, traditional Democratic allies, progressive groups, etc., on the importance of building relationships with Democratic county officials and investing in candidates at the county level.
Farm Team: County Officials are future state legislators, members of Congress and statewide elected officials.
Soap Box/Megaphone: County officials have the ears of their constituents, the media, and a platform from which to talk about key issues.
Grassroots Organization: Local elected officials are the backbone of local parties and the progressive coalition.
Budget, Spending and Public Policy: Counties create public policy and control over $500 billion dollars in spending on important issues that include: construction and infrastructure, transportation, education, hospital/health services, the environment, etc.
II. Identification and Recruitment
The NDCO Board and NDCO members in states will identify and recruit top-level candidates to run for county office in key counties across the country. The individuals most knowledgeable of what it takes to be an effective elected county official, are the individuals who already serve in county government. NDCO will work closely with our partners to identify these individuals and encourage them to run for county office.
Simply identifying a strong candidate to run for office is not enough. There are many great candidates interested in running for county office, but far too many are intimidated by the process or don’t have access to the resources and information necessary to run a strong campaign. NDCO will create training programs in collaboration with NDCO partners at the state and national level, and hold trainings specifically geared to candidates running for county office.
One of the hardest parts about being a first time candidate is that there’s no manual for what it takes to run a good campaign, or how hard a candidate will have to work. For that reason, NDCO is creating a mentoring program for first time candidates running for county office. NDCO will identify seasoned Democratic County officials to serve as mentors for candidates running for office. Identifying good candidates and then training them are great first steps, but building and maintaining relationships with candidates will help them run better campaigns.
Being a good candidate and running a strong race sometimes isn’t enough to get elected. In order to be successful, key Democratic allies and donors need to know where the key races are located, which candidates are worth supporting, and why the race is important. NDCO will create a platform to highlight individuals running in key races; so Democratic allies and donors know where they should invest.
The last phase of this process is connecting Democratic candidates for county office with NDCO partners. NDCO will be a vehicle for connecting our allies with Democratic candidates running for county office, so that our partners can build substantive relationships with candidates. The relationships built during the campaigns are the foundation for an even stronger working relationship when a candidate is elected and begins serving in elected office.
Electing Democrats to Countywide Office. Winning Democratic Majorities on County Boards. Defending Democratic Incumbents
and Assisting Democratic Challengers. Increasing Minority Representation in County Government.