In the piece Always contest the district, DailyKos contributor RonK offers some great wisdom that is extremely network-savvy.
It’s a short post, and worth reading every word (plus the comments), but I’ll take the liberty of boiling it down even more:
Despite these caveats, always contest the district … and with a re-electable candidate if at all possible.
Every so often, lightning strikes … and you have to be there to take advantage.
In the average cycle, lightning will strike in one or two of nearly 200 “safe” GOP districts. You have to be there to take advantage.
Not every cycle is an average cycle. Sometimes a tsunami uproots fixtures that “everybody knows” are safely above the tide line.
You can’t engineer a tsunami … you can’t plan on it … you can’t predict it … you can’t necessarily see it coming 24 hours ahead of time … but you have to be there to take advantage.
The web should be our friend, making it easier to support “placeholder” candidates with prefab templates. Give our long-shots decent visibility without running them ragged or running them into debt.
Keep them in position without bleeding our funding reservoirs. Give local Dem’s something to meet up about. Let them ring a few doorbells and convert a few votes that may come in handy next cycle or the one after that.
Be there to “catch the wave” — if it comes — with a few weeks left in the cycle, and pump in money, media and phone solicitation to make it a real contest.
The best part about this is: it doesn’t just apply to candidate campaigns. As Marty Kearns has repeatedly argued, environmental organizers need to game out sceanrios and have campaigns “ready to launch” in response to unexpected tsunami. Stronger networks are what make it possible to create and replicate campaigns and to grow them fast in resonse to unexpected events.