Jill Derby, who has announced her intention to run for State Party Chair yesterday, has agreed to do some Q&A with Turn Tahoe Blue on what she would do if elected, on the Nevada Caucus, Howard Dean's 50-State-Strategy, and the much criticized Fox News debate:
TTB: You announced your decision to run for State Party Chair on Monday. What makes you want to run the Nevada Democratic Party?
Jill Derby: I am aligned with those party leaders who suggest that the future of the Democratic Party is in the West. We can win in the West, but we must position ourselves in alignment with our uniquely western values. Our new State party slogan is “A New Direction for Nevada”. In my congressional campaign, I laid out a new vision for what a Nevada Democrat and Democrats from the West stand for. That’s the kind of vision and leadership I bring that I believe will advance our opportunities for turning Nevada blue and winning in the West. The opportunity to grow and build our party to that end is an exciting leadership challenge that I am looking forward to taking on.
TTB: Your congressional campaign was one of the most successful and professional campaigns of any Democrat for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional seat and you gave the Republican Party and its candidate a run for their money. What experiences from the campaign trail would help you run the state party?
Jill Derby: I was able to connect with many people in all 17 of Nevada’s counties during my campaign for Congress. That experience provides me with a network of positive relationships with which to build the unity, focus, and cohesion which will be important to the Party in the year ahead. Democrats often talk about being the party of inclusion and I intend to make that happen by involving everyone – rural and urban, north and south. I also learned that many Nevadans are independent and not locked into strict party vote. I learned that reaching out and framing our message in ways that resonate beyond our traditional Democratic audience can bring support across party lines, and is particularly attractive to independent voters, of which there are many in Nevada.
TTB: What would you like to change within the Nevada Democratic Party to increase the chances for Democratic candidates? In this respect, do you think Gov. Dean’s 50-State-Strategy is a good idea?
Jill Derby: Nevada’s early caucus status offers us an opportunity to grow the party and bolster its state-wide infrastructure. We must get disengaged Democrats re-engaged and active. We must communicate our values in ways that connect with Independents and independent-minded Republicans. There are lots of the latter. I met them all over Nevada in my campaign, and many of them voted for me because of the new vision and leadership I offered. I do support Governor Dean’s 50 state strategy which takes the long view of re-building the Democratic Party nationwide. The right wing of the Republican Party didn’t accomplish its impressive gains overnight. It took years of planning, investment, and strategy. We need to be smart and strategic, and build from the ground up to regain the our majority in the nation,
TTB: Your former campaign manager, David Cohen, has signed up as deputy state director with Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Do you intend to endorse a candidate for the Nevada Caucus or will you remain neutral?
Jill Derby: I will remain neutral.
TTB: The decision of the Nevada Democratic Party and the Western Majority Project to let Fox News host a presidential debate in August in Reno has caused an uproar among Democratic activists and bloggers. Do you think it was a wise decision to let Fox News host the debate even though Democratic officials and candidates are often ridiculed and vilified by its presenters?
Jill Derby: We cannot win in the West if we only talk to those who already agree with us. We must reach out to independent voters and independent-minded Republicans. There are a growing number of disenchanted Republicans willing to look elsewhere for candidates to support – my candidacy was clear proof of that. Let’s reach out to them through their media channels. I think the decision was well thought out, and while I understand the concerns of those who oppose the decision, I believe it was the right one. It is important to note that the terms of the agreement require that the logistics of the debate including format, moderator(s), and backdrop will only be determined by mutual consent of both parties. That gives us some safeguards.
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