December 16, 2004
Molly Beth for DNC Chair?

Former Texas State Democratic Party Chair Molly Beth Malcolm is contemplating a run for DNC Chair.

Malcolm is the first woman to consider the job to succeed Terry McAuliffe, who plans to step down next year. Nearly 450 DNC members will vote in February on the high-profile job that carries even more political importance with Republicans controlling the White House and Congress.

A petition to draft Malcolm was circulated last weekend at a meeting of state Democratic Party chairs in Florida. Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, a potential candidate for the DNC job, noted during the session the lack of women candidates for the post.

In a telephone interview, Malcolm said the petition drive surprised her but added that the party has been losing ground with women and needs to put them "in a substantive role, not just a speaker's role."

Among the potential DNC candidates are former presidential candidate Howard Dean, defeated Rep. Martin Frost of Texas, former Clinton adviser Harold Ickes and party activist Donnie Fowler. Former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer said Tuesday that he is considering whether to join the race.

Malcolm, a Republican-turned-Democrat, served as the party's Texas chairwoman from 1998 to 2003.

With all due respect, I'm trying and failing to think of anything Molly Beth Malcolm did as TxDem Chair that would make her a good choice as DNC Chair. I can put aside the disastrous electoral results that marked the 1998-2002 period. Anyone would have had a hard time doing better. What I don't know is what she did in terms of party building, fundraising, message crafting, and so on.

I suppose the fact that I don't know any of this is damning in and of itself, though in her defense, the state party chair isn't particularly visible. My point here is simply that the Texas Democratic Party has been very much on the skids for the last ten years, and four of those were with MBM in charge. What did she do to slow or reverse that decline, and in what ways are we better off now than we were before she took over? Like I said, I don't know.

This is not to say that she doesn't have anything going for her. Being a woman, a Texan, and a former Republican means she ought to have some appeal to constituencies that could use some attention paid to them. All well and good, but what else you got? This can't be about who you are. It's got to be about what you can do.

UPDATE: Greg is thinking along the same lines, with an added twist.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 16, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

A friend of mine once joked that you have to feel a little sorry for a professional political opportunist who is so inept at politics that she switches from the up-and-coming party to the losing team at the most inopportune moment. He was kidding but, seriously: it's not a strong indicator of political savvy.

I saw Molly Beth running around the Capitol during the redistricting fiasco and, frankly, she didn't exude an air of competant leadership. I'd prefer if she turned her attention to fundraising in Texas - which she's reportedly good at - and leave the leadership positions to folks with stronger skill sets in that area. She may prove me wrong but I would take some convincing...

Posted by: sarah on December 16, 2004 9:11 AM

One thing she did do was fix some of the financial problems for the state party. It was in debt prior to her taking over and it no long is.

It might not be much, but it is something she did.

Posted by: CJBuchanan on December 16, 2004 3:25 PM

From a national perspective, Molly Beth Malcolm would make a fabulous chair or co-chair. She inherited a party in disaster when she took over the TX party from Bob Slagel (sic). She did however turn financial ruin into financial stability, and developed grassroots strategies that would have worked. However, she met tremendous resistance from the old guard Democrats in Texas.
Molly Beth has all of the punch of Ann Richards but has far broader appeal to moderates and independents.
I only hope she seriously pursues the nomination.

Posted by: NATLOBSERVER on December 17, 2004 10:02 AM