Former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean will be the guest speaker on May 14 at the NJ Democrats’ annual Democratic State Conference, which serves as a combination strategy session and pre-campaign-season pep rally for state Democrats.
New Jersey Democratic State Committee Deputy Vice Chair Colin G. Bell sees Howard Dean as a fitting guest speaker for the event, which will take place May 14-16 at Harrah’s Resort and Casino in Atlantic City.
Bell said he admired Dean’s “50-state strategy” as DNC chairman, in which he made a point of shoring up Democratic organizations throughout the country, not just the strategic “battleground states.”
Similarly, New Jersey’s Democratic leaders will spend the three days of the State Conference getting the state party mobilized and organized, despite the likely absence of any pitched battles this election year.
All of the Assembly seats are up for re-election in November — a chamber in which Democrats have held a comfortable lead for more than a decade.
While there are worse problems to have, the danger is that the party base can get complacent, Bell said. And through the digital age presents a new frontier of campaign techniques, the gradual death of land-line phones has made checking in with that base on a one-on-one basis more logistically difficult than it used to be.
“Off-year elections are always difficult,” Bell said. “That’s part of our focus. How to mobilize our voter base regardless of what’s going on.”
Bell said he expects several hundred people at the event, including Democratic officials, activists and elected officials.
The purpose of the State Conference, Bell said, is “generally to conduct party business, raise funds, rally supporters, conduct training exercises and try to have fun while we’re doing it.”
It will include receptions, training, caucus meetings, roundtable discussions, banquet dinners and speeches.
Bell, an Atlantic County freeholder himself, said holding the event in Atlantic City is customary. But in light of the city’s recent troubles, it seems even more appropriate for 2015.
This year’s theme is “Building Our Future.” Bell said much of the discussion will concern not only the coming election season, but ways to keep the state party strong, stable and viable in the years ahead.
“We’ve made it a priority to try to build up the organization,” Bell said. “Our budget. Our body of knowledge. Our membership ranks.”
Off-year election or not, Bell said there are plenty of issues to fire up the base, including marriage equality , Hurricane Sandy relief, Port Authority reform and funding for pension systems.
Although the State Conference is intended primarily for people active in the Democratic Party, Bell said anyone willing to pay the registration is welcome to attend.
““It’s people who are interested in shaping the world through the political process discussing their values and aspirations,” Bell said.
2015 NJDSC Conference Schedule
THURSDAY, May 14, 2015
6:30-8:00pm Welcome Reception
Governor Howard Dean will be the Keynote Speaker at our Welcome Reception, and will be staying to participate in our Progressive Issues Roundtable.
8:00-9:30pm Progressive Roundtable
8:00-9:30pm Democratic Committee of Bergen County Reception – Seven Stars Lounge (Near Lobby)
9:30-11:00pm NJDSC Black Caucus ReceptionFRIDAY, MAY 15, 2015
8:30-10:00am NJDSC Breakfast honoring Women of the New Jersey Legislature
10:15-11:30am Panel: Faith, Spirituality, Mindfulness and Politics
10:30-11:45am Democratic Municipal Officials Meeting
Technology Training: An in Depth VAN tutorial
Social Media: Friend or Foe? How to maximize your digital profile
Fundraising: Discussion with the experts on how to best raise funds and maintain compliance
12:30-2:00pm NJDSC Lunch honoring our County Chairs
*Presentation of the Peer Voted “County Chair of the Year Award!”
South Asian Caucus
Youth Caucus/NJYD Meeting
6:45-7:00pm Shabbat Blessings
7:00-9:00pm NJDSC Congressional Dinner honoring the New Jersey’s Legislative Leadership
9:00-11:00pm Latino Caucus Reception
SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2015
9:00 am Call to Action Breakfast
May 14, 2015 at 12pm – May 16, 2015
Harrah’s777 Harrah’s BlvdAtlantic City, NJ 08401United StatesGoogle map and directions
This post is part of our South Jersey Politics Blog