Region 8 Native and Democratic Chairman Jason Willett Sets Agenda for New Year

February 8, 2005 -- Posted 5:00 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- At age 33, Jason Willett has always been in the shadow of some top democrats. He served as an aide to Senator Blanche Lincoln, and currently works for Congressman Marion Berry. Now Willett's taking center stage as the state's Democratic Chairman. He's getting the phone calls to prove it.

"Governor Dean, General Clark, and Chairman McAuliffe -- they've all reached out," said Willett.

As one of the youngest party chairmans in the country, Willett will continue to live and work in Jonesboro, but his focus will be in Little Rock at the state capitol.

"The total goal for 06' for the democratic party is to win back the governorship and the lieutenant governorship," said Willett.

To get that done, Willett is hoping to enlist the help of state legislators on the grass-roots level to mobilize support. In addition he realizes the party must reach out to independents even in republican strongholds.

"One thing we're going to do is put an office of the democratic party in northwest Arkansas. We're going to have that in place in the next 90 days, and put a staff person up there so that we can be there day to day, listening and trying to make sure that we've got a good Arkansas message that we're putting across over there above the mountain," said Willett. "Right now looking at presidential politics, yes the state has gone red, but for the most part, the people of Arkansas are common sense, they are middle of the road, and they are good democrats."

Willett is headed to Washington D.C. to elect the party's national leader. It is believed former presidential candidate Howard Dean will get the nod, despite concerns Dean is too liberal to head the party. Willett says he'll support Dean, but hopes to instill a southern strategy to get a democrat back in the White House.