Iowa’s Governor has set up a political action committee to collect money he’ll funnel to Democrats across the country who’re running for election this year and in 2006. It’s called the Heartland PAC. There’s already a website — www.heartlandpac.org. It’s main feature now is a 90-second video message from Tom Vilsack. “We want this site to be informative, engaging and interactive and, with your help, a virtual marketplace of ideas,” Vilsack says in the video. “This interactive effort is a call-to-action for Democrats to regain the mantle as the party of ideas, to inspire bold, new public policy around the values of opportunity, security and responsibility but none of this can be a reality without your ideas and your action.” Vilsack. who may run for president, says it’s important for Democrats to win at the state and local levels in 2005 and 2006 to “pave the way” for success at the national level in 2008. “But to do this, we must close the idea and message gap and we invite you to become innovators and activists with us at Heartland PAC,” Vilsack says. Matt Paul, Vilsack’s press secretary, says Vilsack wants to get Democrats to “talk” on-line about charting the party’s future. “It’s more than raising money,” Paul says. “It’s really about message and it’s about an exchange of ideas. The governor wanted to create a forum that allows for an exchange of big ideas, policies that are working in states across the country aimed at electing more Democratic governors…ultimately getting results for American families.” There will be 38 governors’ races in the U-S this year and next, and Vilsack has hired B.J. Thornberry, the former executive director of the Democratic Governors’ Association, to run his PAC which will donate money to those campaigns. Thornberry was an aide to Colorado’s governor. She’s a native of Illinois who lives in Maryland now. A consulting firm known as bluestatedigital.com helped create the website. The firm was started by folks who set-up the groundbreaking website for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. That website raised millions in cash and helped propel Dean into front-runner status before his demise in the Iowa Caucuses. Dean is now head of the Democratic National Committee but Vilsack is now head of the Democratic Leadership Council. That group is trying to recraft the party’s message and Dean’s former aides are now assisting Vilsack in that effort.
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