The group, called The NewDEAL (an acronym for Developing Exceptional American Leaders), will officially launch Tuesday and is billed as a “national network committed to highlighting and connecting pro-growth progressive state and local elected leaders from across the country.”
The 501 (c)(4) will highlight a group of 10 or 15 elected officials at a time and seek to promote their pragmatic ideas using short videos on an interactive website. The group is encouraging supporters to nominate people and elected leaders in their community through the website.
Begich said the main goal is to highlight the ideas, but that the program can also be used as a recruiting tool for the Demcorats in search of appealing candidates in future elections.
“People are excited for this, because nobody is doing it,” Begich said. “It’s a combo of great ideas — a think-tank kind of thing — but at the same time highlighting great aspects of future and current leaders. People are looking for those fresh and new faces.”
The idea sprung from a relationship O’Malley and Begich formed when both were mayors — O’Malley in Baltimore and Begich in Anchorage. Begich said it blossomed when he joined the Senate in 2009 and realized how the chamber was stuck in an antiquated way of doing things.
“That told me that there needs to be a long-range (vision),” Begich said. “At the same time, I didn’t see anybody out there reaching out to some of the new talent and folks that are coming up in the private sector, the local governorment or the state government.”
The first class of 10 includes mostly state legislators, but also a potential 2012 Senate candidate in Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller. The other nine are: Arizona state Rep. Chad Campbell, Iowa state Senate President Pro Tempore Jeff Danielson, Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel, Missouri Assistant House Minority Leader Tishaura Jones, Virginia state Del. Mark Keam, California state Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, New York state Assemblyman Joe Morelle, Franklin County (Ohio) Commissioner John O’Grady, and Delaware state Rep. Bryon Short.
O’Malley, who also serves as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said the group is coming along at a good time. He said it will occupy some territory formerly inhabited by the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, which folded recently, and also that Democrats need to be reminded that, even though they have most of the power in Washington right now, it won’t always be that way.
“Sometimes control of the White Hosue might distract us from bringing up the next generation,” O’Malley said.