(Bloomberg Politics) — Democrats have watched with alarm as Republicans took over state legislatures and used them to dismantle federal policies like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in attacks coordinated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
“We’ve ceded the states, in terms of policy and politics, to Republicans for a full generation now,” said Democratic strategist Nick Rathod, a former White House liaison to the states for Obama.
On Thursday, state-level Democrats will meet their party’s answer to ALEC. The State Innovation Exchange (SiX), is convening for the first time at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington. It’s part legislative mixer, part progressive pep rally. Rathod, the group’s founder and director, wants to build for Democrats a library of “model policy” like Republicans have through ALEC.
Another goal is to give Democrats the confidence to be more progressive, said Adam Green, an adviser to SiX and co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “Polling shows there’s no tension between great progressive ideas and what voters want,” he said. He’ll give a presentation to that effect at the SiX conference, highlighting the popularity of making college more affordable and expanding Social Security and Medicaid.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a progressive darling despite his independent affiliation, and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland are scheduled to welcome the group Thursday night in a joint reception with the Center for American Progress, a policy shop started by White House senior adviser John Podesta and where Strickland now works.