It's hard to believe that six months has already passed since election day.
We now have 546 days until election day 2008. That's just under 18 months, which isn't very long considering a couple of other facts.
It will be another nine months before we're likely to know who our Presidential candidate will be. Then probably another three months after that until North Carolina holds its primary and we know who all our other candidates will be.
In other words, we basically have 12 months to plan, and then 6 months to campaign.
Considering we are trying to put some Democrats in the Electoral College for the first time in 32 years, we better get busy. If we're going to turn North Carolina blue on the presidential map we need to use our time wisely.
Over the next year that means engaging in strategic planning and establishing real relationships with our voters (through canvassing). We must create a solid foundation upon which that last six-month sprint to election day will be based.
Very few of our counties have a solid enough foundation now. With county conventions behind us, however, our leadership teams are in place.
We also have a tremendous head start in that our state chair has written a Guide to Strategic Planning for County Democratic Parties that is available free to county chairs. It walks the county party through every step in the planning process, and results in a blueprint and a timeline for the county party's growth. Then it's just a matter of following the plan.
In the blogosphere we're endlessly discussing who is ahead and who might run and every permutation and combination of this ticket or that one for this office or that. The point is, it doesn't matter who our candidates are if we can't help them get elected. Our county and district parties need to be well organized, with good plans in place, if we are to be of any help to our candidates.
And that work starts needs to start in earnest right now.
The great football coach Vince Lombardi used to yell at his players if they showed up ten minutes early for practice. "If you're ten minutes early you're five minutes late," he would say. He expected them to arrive fifteen minutes early so they would be well prepared when the practice began. His teams won championships.
18 months and counting.