Tonight I was privileged to be a part of a conference call with several bloggers known throughout the Blogosphere and Christine Cegelis.
Unfortunately, my lack of a working headset slowed my typing greatly and I missed the introductions of everyone. So apologies to everyone else blogging this. I'm sure there will be more of these pieces from those more competent than I, but here's my notes from our chat with Christine...
Christine started out with some background on herself and her campaign. She noted he ability to bring in the highest vote total ever gained by a Democrat against Henry Hyde, and her excitement at running again.
When asked about fundraising, she passed on that she had hired the fundraiser from the Barack Obama campaign. She addressed her shortcomings in fundraising in her first run, and explained that much of this was due to her late start in the primary. She noted that she is currently putting the team together now for either a special election or the 2006 election which ever comes to pass, and is in far better condition to vastly exceed her last race.
When asked about her possible GOP opponent, Illinois State Senator Peter Roskam, she commented that it did look like he was the current GOP candidate should there be a special election, but that other names have been put forth in the media every other week. She noted that he was a DeLay aide, a right wing extremist, and would give the voters of IL-06 a real choice. She also noted, something I didn't realize, that he was appointed to his State Senate position, not elected. He then ran unopposed in his second term as is not uncommon in this GOP controlled area.
Commenting on the possibility of a special election, Christine commented on rumors of Henry Hyde being offered an ambassadorship to the Vatican, but that nothing was known for certain. If a special election happened, it would happen quickly - in 120 days. Knowing this is possible, she has her team in place. She noted the GOP will fight hard for this seat as they will not want to be embarrassed by losing Hyde's seat, especially to a pro-choice woman.
When asked how the Blogosphere could help her, she noted of course fundraising, but focused mostly on the blogs helping get her story out and most importantly "getting troops on the ground to knock on doors in the district." She viewed the blogs as a way to conduct a two way conversation and maintain two way communication between her campaign and those in the district. She noted that she will have a campaign blog, and is currently having her website redesigned (by some guy named michael) and looks forward to the community aspects it will allow.
A question was raised about whether she anticipated any competition in the primary or special election from other Democrats. She felt there would be not other Democratic candidate in a special election situation. She felt there probably would be some other candidate in a general election, but noted this was normal and cited Melissa Bean's primary as an example. But it was noted by many on the call that Christine is the only Democrat from the district with name recognition in the district, the only candidate from either side to have campaigned district wide, and the only real name in Democratic circles in DuPage as there are NO Democrats in elected positions there.
Other discussions ensued on the use of blogs in the campaign and how these might be used to get her story out. Opposition research and national media/blogosphere vs. local bloggers were discussed and many ideas generated that the campaign will follow up on. Thanks to the great suggestions here by Carl Nyberg, Bob Brigham and others who I missed their names.
A discussion about talking with the Illinois State Democratic party and the DCCC was also undertaken. It was noted that Christine has been working with state legislators, but less with the state party as a whole. Several on the call noted that this was standard procedure, at least for now, in Illinois. Christine noted that Gov. Dean would probably like to see more work with the state party, but right now that wasn't the way the system worked, and although she agrees with him, she was working with the state legislators directly. Most agreed on the call that this was the best for now.
Finally a discussion took place on DuPage county, where IL-06 is primarily located. There are NO Democrats in elected office in the whole county. The demographics are changing greatly though, and will reach parity in the near term, maybe as soon as 2008. At this point we had to bring the call to a close, but as a resident of IL-06 I wanted to add that DuPage county is seen as a GOP stronghold. This is the reputation. This reputation is also propped up by the local GOP party and local media. Ask many residents who are not tuned into politics and they will tell you that it is hopeless as the GOP are in control. This is contrary to the actual registration numbers and changing demographics. I feel part of our challenge here is to get the public exposed to the reality that DuPage is ripe for the Democrats to make wide inroads. The public in general needs to be informed of the changes in registration and demographics, and these people need to realize that their votes are needed and not just a waste of their time. The GOP will not always win anymore as they have done in the past.
Look for some of the other bloggers to post on this call in the near future. It is a great effort to support an exciting candidate.
To lean more, go to Christine's website.