Thursday, November 27, 2014

Links worth a thorough read

The Democratic Party Must Find its Core Values

“People yelled and carried on”: Howard Dean tells Salon how he remade DNC — and Dems’ new path forward

The Solid South Will Rise Again

Delusions of the Democrats

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Where it all began for me: Collaboration, Planning and Goal Achievement

I have had some inquiries into my work background so I've linked to a resume below. Others have asked about my social activism history as well. So let me tell you a story...

After graduating from Dartmouth in 1991, I went home to southern New Jersey and worked with my father's non-profit. He called it the Atlanta Rural Development Coalition. He asked if I would start a Summer Youth Initiatives programs to keep the community kids active and positive during the summer. ARDC served a low-income population in the "sticks" of the NJ Pine Barrens. Recreation for the kids was an overgrown baseball field and a ragged basketball court. I started out with about 8 kids and asked them what they'd like to see happen in the neighborhood. Sure enough they wanted the ball field and courts to be fixed up. We wrote up a game plan. The community came together with some local businesses and together we had achieved that goal in 6 weeks.

Then they decided they wanted to go to Six Flags before school started back up. This was a REALLY big deal for them to travel nearly 2 hours to Six Flags Great Adventure. I had to figure out how to get a bus, food and ticket money in a very short period of time. The group, which had grown to about 20 kids, raked leaves and cleaned the streets to raise money. With donations and some negotiation with the school system, we took that trip to Six Flags. I still remember the look on their faces when we arrived at the park. Many of them had never been to Six Flags before. It was as great a moment for me as it was for those kids. I share that story because I want you to understand where it all began for me. This is where I developed my pragmatic, optimistic belief in the power of a people united.

That summer experience led me to work with a local youth drug prevention program which then opened the door to public service as a social worker in juvenile corrections. I would later volunteer as a court appointed youth advocate with CASA. My social activism was further developed as a certified Neighborworks affordable housing counselor. When I became Rockdale Chief of Staff in 2009, one of my first actions, was to write & secure a federal grant for nearly 3 million dollars to stabilize our foreclosure ravaged neighborhoods. That initial grant has helped create new housing for over 30 Rockdale families.  I am currently a mentor with Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta and a summer programs volunteer with 4-H.

There's plenty to be cynical about in the world and certainly in Georgia as a Democrat. However, I live my life with an eye toward possibility and potential not impossibility and limitations. I've always found success in working together with a plan toward a common goal. As your next Chair, that's what I want us to focus on as we shift our party back to the needs of the people. rj

RJ Hadley for DPG Chair - Professional Background

Friday, November 21, 2014

Back to Basics: Communication, Inclusion and Engagement

There is no getting around the frustration and major disappointment of the recent elections. There have also been no shortage of experts and pundits to tell us what we did wrong. There's certainly value in reviewing past failures, but I want to talk about how we start doing what's right. The reason we have so much discord and rumor-mongering now is because trust within the organization is low. For nearly a decade, I have fought for more transparency and better communication throughout our entire organization. If we did this, we could begin to work as a unified body with a unified message. This would guide our candidates, our party activists and most importantly our voters at election time when it counts.

So it's critical that we tune out the noisy chatter and go back to basics by coming up with a game plan for local, ground-based wins next year. This means that no part of the organization can operate in a vacuum. We have to have clear points of communications and clear times to expect that communication. When elected in February, I will distribute a meeting calendar for the next two years. Back to basics means we must become a training organization.We already have the necessary skills within our ranks. Never again will we meet as a state organization and not have training available in addition to our party business. Lastly, we've got to power up our committees, caucuses and county parties to improve voter engagement so that we can get more of our presidential voters to activate during the midterms.

We have to become an organization that works. I won't ask you to do anything I'm not willing to do myself. I told you last time that this campaign is not about me. My goal is not to be seen at this event or pictured with that person, because that does nothing for the average citizens who need us to fight for them. This campaign is about bringing all hands and all voices to the table. That means you! Come join me and let's work our way back together. rj

RJ Hadley for DPG Chair 2015

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Georgia Dems it's Time: Make 2014 the Year of Women

As Georgia Democrats, we have become a bit too cynical about the road ahead. By road ahead, I don't mean the "promised" years of 2016 or 2018. Yes I'm excited to see what a possible Clinton '16 could mean. I am also watching the favorable demographic projections for 2018. However, when I speak of the road ahead, I'm talking about next year folks - 2014.

It seems the politerati don't have high expectations for our party next year. I think the underestimation gives us room to do the unexpected. We have a golden opportunity to do something special and transformative with the upcoming election cycle. This could inspire the base, make the independents take a real look at our candidates and it will totally blow the opposition out of the water. I believe this is our best chance to claim some if not all of the statewide seats. It's bold. It's forward thinking and it makes sense.

So with no authority or standing to do so, I am proclaiming 2014 the Year of Women for Georgia Democrats. That's right! I want there to be a Democratic Woman in every statewide ballot slot. Can you imagine it? Think of the message Georgia Democrats would send to our voters and really to the nation. Think of the story we would have to attract funds, media attention and the crucial youth vote. Think of what that coordinated campaign would be like - wow! Spread the word and let's make it happen. rj

Friday, August 2, 2013

T-R-U-S-T > The 5-point renewal plan for DPG

As we work together to bring our financial picture back from the brink and refocus on finding/electing good Democrats, I'll be talking about rebuilding T-R-U-S-T as a discussion point and planning guide. I will elaborate on each point with my proposals and initiatives in the days ahead, but the overview is for us to rebuild our...


Let's face it. Without enough Democrats serving in office and/or loads of active volunteers on the ground, it makes it very challenging to raise funds. What do we have to offer the high-dollar donor? How can we inspire the small contributors? I think we can answer these questions and right the ship with a multi-prong approach that engages Democrats internally as well as those outside of the organization. There must be lots of initiative and involvement from a large group of Democrats to make this effort successful in a short period of time. While certainly not everyone can/will contribute in this way, we must be careful not to leave our financial stability in the hands of a small group of donors.


We've got to mend fences with donors,volunteers, candidates/elected officials, volunteers and ultimately our voters. Relationships are built on two-way communication so we'll have to take positive steps to listen and welcome them all back.


North GA Mountains Democrats, Atlanta Democrats, Southern Democrats - you name it we've got many ways to split up and divide ourselves up. For the sake of our state, we'll have to accept our differences and find a concept that we can all get behind like - GEORGIA FIRST.


We are a statewide organization and have statewide structure already in place. The problem is that we don't take advantage of a communication system that links county activity, district activity and ultimately state-level activity. When we begin to share information and resources across the entire state we will see our success and effectiveness increase across all of Georgia. 


Affiliate organizations are our friends and we have to start acting like it. These partner groups share complimentary views and create additional pathways to reach and engage our voters. We have to come up with new ways to connect as a team with these like-minded entities. With 2014 just around corner, we must make it clear that DPG stands with open arms to embrace organizations that align with our goals.

How will we do it? I'll talk about each point in separate posts ahead and I'm also looking forward to hearing from you. rj

RJ Hadley, Candidate for DPG Chair
(404) 274-9281

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Georgia Democrats means GEORGIA FIRST

So here we go. Qualifying has ended and we look toward the August 31st special election. For me, it can't come soon enough. As an organization, this election is actually a perfect time for self-reflection, self-renewal and self-determination. Yet I've seen it create even more division and in-fighting just when we desperately need to come together as an organization. In my numerous travels all over our great state, it's been my honor to meet so many great Democrats. Of course we don't all want exactly the same thing in exactly the same way, but at our core we all believe that our party has the better path forward for our state. I offer myself as Chair to bring us together and get us focused on a basic theme with simple targets for surprising results.

At the foundation of our actions, we should all be mindful of two simple, but powerful, words - GEORGIA FIRST. Georgia First must be a destination and Georgia First must also be a promise. Georgia First as a destination means our party promotes initiatives and legislation that seek to move our state from the bottom to first in areas such as educational opportunity, economic security and individual freedom. Georgia First as a promise means our party leaders make a commitment to put the needs of our citizens ahead of private gain, personal ambition and purely ideological battles.

As we reinforce our party, evaluate new leadership and chart a course for victory in the coming elections, I ask each of you to think, make and keep GEORGIA FIRST. rj

RJ Hadley, Candidate for DPG Chair
(404) 274-9281

Thursday, June 6, 2013

GA Democrats: Don't panic. Stay focused. Get ready for a difficult road back.

With all the talk lately, there's plenty to get dismayed by and distracted from when it comes to the DPG. You guys know I'm a "glass half full" kind of guy, but I can't sugarcoat it. It's been a challenging two years and the picture right now isn't pretty. Finances, organization, planning, morale: all indicators are on red. Still we can't lose sight of our main objective. Remember, we exist primarily to find and elect good Democrats to office at the local, state and national level. Period. There's a huge amount of work ahead for us to rebuild the foundation and relationships that will make us a viable organization, vital to the future of Georgia. I implore each of you. Don't panic. Stay focused. Stay determined.  There's heavy lifting ahead and we'll need each of you to do it. It won't be easy and it certainly won't be handed to us by the gods of demography.

The noise level right now is so high that we've forgotten the folks we are here to fight for; our elderly, our veterans, our youth and the disenfranchised. First, we've got the media/blogs pumping us up with these articles about the good weather ahead for us. HuffPo, Roll Call, DailyKos, you name it, they're saying the numbers are looking up, the environment is ripe for a turnaround and GA Dems are in a prime position to strike. Pay no attention to it! Really. It's like being on that doomed Carnival cruise ship before all hell breaks loose. The weather ahead may look great and the waves may be favorable, but it means nothing when the toilets are overflowing and the ship is listing to one side. While it does appear that Georgia is trending toward more potential Democratic voters, we've got to have the financial resources and sweat equity to actually get them out to the polls. Sorry to break it to you, but we've got a long, long way to paddle before we can even begin to see that port.

Then, we've got the endless naysayers who say it's all hopeless right now. They say we should just lay dormant for a decade or so. Wait until the numbers catch up, then put our good stuff out there. Are you kidding me? What in the world are we doing if we're just going to sideline it for the next few election cycles? Pay no attention to it! There's plenty to be said for fighting the good fight. There are times when you, against the odds, put your best plan forward and charge, head down, into the breach. I guess sitting out a couple of elections is one way to go. I'm a worker. I'm a fighter. I'm for gathering up the best candidates we can support and fighting the good fight. Governor Deal I'm talking directly to you and your "free pass" friends.

So again I say let's tune out the noise and get ready to do something that will be near impossible to do in the time that's left to do it. We've got to rebuild our treasure, rebuild the troops and most importantly rebuild TRUST. People have to trust us with their hard earned dollars. People have to trust us with their precious time. They've got to trust that Georgia Democrats, at every level, have a plan to improve the economy, increase educational opportunity and create an equal playing field for everyone. Yes, trust can be broken, but trust, with very hard work, can be renewed. I'm going to start on Monday by signing up to make monthly contributions to the party via the Yellow Dog Club. I trust you will join me in doing the same. rj

RJ Hadley, DPG Vice-Chair
Congressional Districts and County Parties
(404) 274-9281