“I was always politically interested and involved, but I’d never really done anything in politics before 2000,” Jeremy Horton says. After Bush’s election, Horton went online and found the Dean movement.
“It was really only half about the candidate. The other half was that you could get involved in the campaign; you were allowed to do things,” Horton says.
He went to the first meeting of Dean supporters in Lexington, organized through Meetup.com, in March 2003. By that December, he was the chair of Dean’s Kentucky campaign, helping coordinate the statewide effort to get Dean on the ballot. But even before Dean dropped out, Horton and others began talking about how to keep their 5,000-strong email list active after the election. To them, the party was closed off to outsiders and in many countries run by the party bosses as their own patronage fiefdom.
“There was almost no way to get involved,” Horton said. “I didn’t even know how to contact my county party.”
Horton and his fellow activists started Change for Kentucky as a shadow organization to the state party. In 2004, they began organizing around getting elected to party positions – training candidates and distributing flyers explaining the party structure and how to run. The old guard panicked and creaked into action, but the Change activists, who were concentrated in Louisville but loosely allied with activists in Lexington, still managed to pick up a third of Louisville’s 300 precinct captain spots.
Horton is now a member of the state party’s executive committee and Change for Kentucky is focused on elections and uses the online services provided by DfA to help fundraise, train and organize candidates. And they are still working from the neighborhood level up, holding house parties and walking their blocks, voter registration files in hand.