A former political director of the AFL-CIO, Rosenthal arrogantly claimed that minority groups, including the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, were “ineffective, inefficient and unaccountable.”
Many CBTU members wore this button in protest.
On Sept. 17, 2004, the Washington Times published a news story, “Black voter groups lose money, control to 527s; Demand resources ‘to do what we do best.’”
In a letter to the editor, I wrote:
Black leaders are rightly frustrated that funding has been siphoned away from groups that closed the racial gap in voter registration and turnout in favor of instant organizations that have parachuted into black communities.
Money is not the sole issue; it’s also about respect. Many progressives blamed low black turnout for Democratic losses in the 2002 midterm elections.
Steve Rosenthal, chief executive officer of America Coming Together, dismissed black voter groups as “inefficient, ineffective and unaccountable.”
But get this: The Census Bureau recently reported there was an increase in black turnout in 2002. Black turnout was 39.7 percent in 2002 compared to 39.6 percent in 1998, the last midterm election.
And in the mother of all turnout battles, black voters—mobilized by black elected officials, black union members, black clergy and black voter groups—enabled Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to withstand the Republican Party’s best shot and win the Louisiana senate runoff election.
Landrieu’s reelection and Kathleen Blanco’s surprising win in Louisiana’s gubernatorial runoff election remain the only statewide Democratic upsets since the 2000 election debacle. Both victories predate the rise of 527s, including America Coming Together and the Media Fund.
It is an open question whether ACT, which is “big-pimpin’” black voters, will be able to turn the trick. On Nov. 2, we all will know the answer.
The whole world knows the answer. America Coming Together fell apart the day after the 2004 election.
But Rosenthal is back.
The Los Angeles Times reported:
Longtime Democratic organizer Steve Rosenthal is hosting the Monday meeting with many of the figures behind America Coming Together, an independent operation that financed voter outreach in 2004, to discuss the prospects for creating a new campaign vehicle for 2012. Among those expected to attend are Ellen Malcolm, the founder of Emily’s List, which backs candidates who support abortion rights, and Anna Burger, the vice chair of the Democracy Alliance.
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, “There are no second acts in American lives.”
With his 2004 record and toxic brand among black leaders, there should be no second ACT for Rosenthal.
UPDATE: The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reports:
Though not done as an alternative to Brock, other big-named operatives within the Democratic tent have also begun discussions about a similar third-party outlet. On Monday, longtime organizer Steve Rosenthal is set to host a meeting bringing together several of the figures responsible for the last major independent operation: America Coming Together [ACT]. Attendees, as the Los Angeles Times first reported will include Ellen Malcolm, the founder of Emily’s List; Anna Burger, the vice chair of the Democracy Alliance; longtime Clinton adviser Harold Ickes; and labor leader and Obama ally Andy Stern.
“It is really just to get a group of people together to talk about whether or not we need something like this again,” said one official involved in the meeting. “In 2004, we created a center of gravity and it covered various aspects and places of the party... to some extent Rove and Gillespie did that in 2010.”
There are no dollar figures that either Brock or Rosenthal’s groups have discussed in terms of what they are hoping to raise and spend in 2012. The $200 million that ACT and Media Fund (another independent-Democratic arm in 2004) raised two presidential cycles back is a pipe dream. But $50 million has been thrown out as a baseline number.