Political Parties Get Organized in Off-Election Year - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Political Parties Get Organized in Off-Election Year

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It's never too early to start planning for the next election cycle, even in West Virginia where a string of special elections kept coming and coming.

Now, post-election and post-legislative session, both the West Virginia Democratic Party and the Republican National Committee are circling the wagons.

RNC Co-Chair Sharon Day visited West Virginia April 29 to talk about the party's growth and opportunity project, which includes spending $10 million in local communications.

"We're committed to investing in going where we've not been and communities where we need to be," Day explained.

She said the party didn't get the results it hoped for after the most recent election cycle, but instead of assigning blame, a committee was called together to look at what happened from all aspects of the campaigns and then go out and let other people tell them, including every single person who worked in a victory office.

And the responses, after 220,000 hours of listening to more than 55,000 people?

"Insightful," Day said.

They came up with more than 200 suggestions.

"Some were fairly simple, and others were some we haven't thought of," Day said. "Others were exactly what we wanted."

She said the party has not been connecting with women, Hispanics, blacks or Asians, but there is nothing wrong with the party's message.

"We just need more messengers," Day said. "We normally had an election cycle game plan, but now it's been stated very clearly that we can no longer do election cycles."

Day said short-term and long-term plans are now in place and also a 50-state plan so there no longer is a focus on a few "battleground states," but attention on them all.

"That's exciting," Day said. "West Virginia is strong … but we want to help make the state of West Virginia's party stronger, and put forth that same effort for every state party.

"And that allows you to elect local, and elect a farm team with a very strong bench."

And the Democrats in West Virginia are not taking a break either.

"We believe that we're going to have some tremendous announcements starting today at 1 o'clock," West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio said April 30, the morning of Nick Casey's announcement he would run for the 2nd District Congressional seat that has been held by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito since 2001.

"We're excited about a chain of announcements that we think the public will be hearing about in the near future," Puccio said.

The winter announcement from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., that he would leave public service after almost 50 years of service will leave a hole in the party, but Puccio said they're just grateful for his time in office.

"It's tough to lose an individual with the clout he has in Washington, but everyone deserves to retire after working so hard for many, many years, and we wish him the best," Puccio said. "He wants to see us continue to have two candidates, and we're going to hear an announcement or two."

Puccio said filling those shoes comes from many factors.

"We look at many things, not just being an officeholder," he said. "What you've done, how you've practiced in life, what your profession is … there are many things that allow us to see a responsible individual that is really preparing to give back and to serve as an office holder.

"We are always encouraged when we have an individual who has been a true public servant and done a great job, but at the same time, we look for individuals that have been responsible in their life, done great things and also looking to serve."

Puccio said despite the WVGOP's gains in the Legislature this year, the top seats are all still held by Democrats.

And the Democratic Party's Executive Director, Jacob Winowich, said the RNC's growth and opportunity project "is just more paperwork the Republicans are putting out to protect their damaged image that they weren't that successful this last election cycle."

"They put in a lot of money and weren't successful on the national level at all," he said. "The nation is changing and not supportive of the National Republican Party so much anymore."

Puccio said the Democratic Party uses the word "responsible" a lot, because it's a clear part of the party message.

"We're going to continue to be responsible and do responsible things while working hard for the hard-working families of West Virginia," Puccio said. "We'll continue to fight to work for the families of West Virginia while doing it in a responsible manner."