The Hunt for Blue November

What’s next for the Mohave County Democrats?

Mary Landahl works at the computer at the Democratic Headquarters in Kingman recently.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br> Mary Landahl works at the computer at the Democratic Headquarters in Kingman recently.

EDITOR'S NOTE:This the last half of a series on the Democratic Party in Mohave County.

KINGMAN - So, the election is over and the local Democrats lost. By their own admission, it's not terribly surprising, but what about next time?

While it's hardly certain that Democrats will be able to make substantial inroads in Mohave County through the 2010 and 2012 elections, there are a few factors that may go in their favor.

The first factor is increased enthusiasm among the candidates. As described in last week's Miner, local Democratic candidates are more energetic than in the past, and their supporters are more involved in the party as a whole, with a marked increased in the number of precinct committeepersons this year over 2004.

Getting local Democrats even more involved on the social level will be one of the party's key goals in the coming years, according to Central Committee First Vice Chair Kay Lilland. It's hard to read the Miner regularly and not notice announcements of upcoming Republican functions, such as luncheons, candidate forums and other social events, and Lilland wants to bring that same sense of community to her party.

"We want to increase young Democrat clubs, groups of Democrats who get together for breakfast," she said. "Most of them don't know how the party is built, and that's one of our education efforts."

Another factor that may improve the Democrats' future chances is continued migration to Mohave County from more liberal areas, including southern California and Nevada's Clark County. Kingman Planning and Zoning Commissioner Bill Lacy is one such Democrat who moved to Kingman from Las Vegas, and he believes that as development spurs further growth in the area, the inevitable influx is bound to make the county bluer over time.

"(Our population) is growing, and I think they're more Democratic," Lacy said. "We see a lot of these people (in Kingman) who were active in California, and I think that's affected the Democrats here, and the Democrats from Clark County, I meet a lot of them moving here.

"It seems to have sped up in the last eight or 10 years to me," he added.

What may be the most important factor, however, is what most first-time Democrats running don't have.

Mary Landahl didn't have it either when she ran for the state Senate against Ron Gould this year, but she's hoping to have it when she runs again in 2010.

"The first time around is just plain name recognition," Landahl said. "The Republicans already have that beat."

Landahl believes the key to finally beating local Republicans is to get Democratic candidates established as household names, instead of running a new sacrificial lamb every cycle.

"Repetition of candidates, you have to keep the same candidates running," she said. "Second of all, you have to be very careful keeping track of the opposition's voting record."

Landahl said her newcomer status this year required her to spend much of her time introducing herself to the electorate, rather than highlighting certain votes by her opponent, particularly his vote against House Bill 2847, which would have mandated insurance coverage for therapy for autistic children.

"It wouldn't have cost the state anything," Landahl said. "Nothing."

Landahl said that when she did have the chance to show voters Gould's vote on the bill, many couldn't believe it, but she only had brief windows in which to focus on Gould's record.

"It's the obligation of the voter to find that out, but it's also the obligation of the candidate," she said. "But if we're running new candidates all the time, it's very difficult."

Landahl said the sheer size of Mohave County, the fifth largest in the nation, also makes it very difficult to cover large numbers of voters in a short amount of time.

She noted that the rural nature of the county also tends to shield the electorate against any actions taken in Phoenix.

"People in rural areas seem to be much more independent," Landahl said. "For some reason, they see that people in cities are against them ... they don't incorporate them into the decision-making."

Lillard hopes that by sticking around and working harder to inform voters in the next election, Landahl and her colleagues up and down the ticket may find more purchase with Mohave County than they have in previous cycles. "I don't think it's impossible we wouldn't win one in 2010," she said.

"Our goal for two years from now is to get out more voters and raise that mid 30s (percentage of the vote) to the low 50s."