A hard question for state chair candidates

I attended the candidates forum for the chair of the state Democratic Party Sunday (see report), and there was one issue which the candidates did not directly address:

As party chair, how would you balance the needs of the progressive and centrist wings of the party?

On the left, many voters are disillusioned with what they perceive as the “corporatism” and lack of backbone of the Democratic Party. They’re attracted to candidates like Kshama Sawant.

On the right, many voters prefer candidates like Rodney Tom who are Democrats in name only. Besides, voters voted almost two to one in 2010 against I-1098, the high earners’ income tax initiative. And face it: to get elected, candidates need to raise money. Democrats can’t be too liberal, especially outside urban areas.

Obviously, the party needs to work to win back voters who feel the party has moved too far to the right, and it needs to market a more progressive message so that voters stop voting against their own self-interest.  But the party still needs to respect the need to get elected and not over-reach.

As party chair, how will you handle this divide between the progressives and centrists?  And how will you work to prevent people like Rodney Tom from taking over the party?

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