The 7 Most Dysfunctional State Parties

In the past two years, one state party chairman was investigated by the local bar association. Elsewhere, an about-to-be-ousted party leader changed the locks at the headquarters. Two more state parties were threatened with eviction.

Traditionally, state parties have been the meeting point between the national political organizations and the local ground game. But in recent cycles, many of them have become so dysfunctional that they are now irrelevant — or even worse, detrimental, to the national party’s efforts.

The reasons behind their ineptitude vary: Some parties struggle with finances, others with competing personalities. For Republicans, many of the problems stem from power struggles between tea party activists and old guard operatives.

Does it matter if the state party is dysfunctional, especially in the age of shadow campaigns and ubiquitous third-party spending? It depends whom you ask.

Of the dozens of operatives CQ Roll Call interviewed, most had such low regard for state parties that they shrugged off the incompetence. They described the evolution of a state party’s role in federal politics as a glorified bank account for cheaper television and postage rates.

Still, some operatives stress that a functional state party is crucial to a national party’s interests in some states. One hired hand argued that a strong state party infrastructure is particularly important in fast-paced special elections.

Read more on Roll Call: The 7 Most Dysfunctional State Parties

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