Last year when Paul Berendt was running successfully for an umpteenth terms as state chair, there wasn't much talk about it online. Not that there wasn't anyone running against Paul, he had healthy competition. But there was a sense that given the lawsuit fight over the governor's race, it would be a bad idea to change horses in mid-stream, to borrow a bad cliche.
This year has been different, which is a really good thing. Democrats across Washington have used Paul's retirement as an opportunity to talk about not only who they want to see guiding the party, but where they want the party to go. I've been guilty myself of some personal axe-grinding on the topic of the party being almost totally absent in the building netroots arena. My concerns though, have been somewhat assuaged by the discussion going on right now in several places.
Washblog has been near the center of discussion, with former candidate for chair Greg Rodriguez posting several times on his candidacy and his withdrawl. While he pointed out that his taking his name out of the ring has nothing to do with blog comments, he has been active (along with several other active Dems) in public online forums. Interviews with Jean Brooks and Bill Harrington, also in the running for state chair, have been posted on DailyKos.
Having discussions in online and public places is good for the party and good for whoever ends up becoming chair next month. I feel more part of the process being able to discuss maturely in public who should lead us for the next few years. We are a more open party, more open to newcomers and folks that don't feel empowered if we stay on this course and keep things out in the open.