DNC Chair Candidates Forum Liveblog

Per luck of the draw backstage, each candidate gets two minutes for opening remarks. Tom Perez goes first:

  • “I feel like Lou Gehrig… the luckiest person on the face of the Earth.”
  • Perez gets huge applause for mentioning his fight in DOJ against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
  • “We need a turnaround artist.”

Jaime Harrison:

  • Starts off mentioning Trump attack on John Lewis, noting his office was next to John Lewis’s when he worked for James Clyburn in Congress.
  • “We have to resist. We have to fight like our lives depend on it, because you know what? They do.”

Sally Boynton Brown:

  • “Most of us agree on the what, we definitely agree on the why. We have to figure out the how.”
  • Brings out two props – a piece of paper and a glass sphere – to illustrate her vision of how the party structure and system should work.

Keith Ellison:

  • Notes congressional vote to repeal ACA yesterday.
  • “I’m running for chairman of the DNC because I have ability to get Democrats elected. There are no statewide elected Republicans in Minnesota.”

Jehmu Greene:

  • Awkward silence in the room when Jon Ralston notes that she is a political analyst on Fox News.
  • “I spent the last seven years fighting the good fight in the belly of the beast at Fox News.”
  • Notes she was on Fox News at 4:20 a.m. against three hosts defending House Democrats who call Donald Trump an illegitimate president.

Pete Buttigieg:

  • Makes fun of his youth, saying he is old enough to buy beer.
  • Notes that his hometown of South Bend was on Newsweek list of dying cities when he first ran for mayor six years ago.
  • “We won the popular vote for a reason. We have the best values. We have the best ideas. That means something.”

Ray Buckley:

  • “United we will be able to fight back successfully, because I like you, am sick and tired of losing elections.”
  • Volunteered for Jimmy Carter at 16, at 20 he was party treasurer.
  • Notes that in last ten years, New Hampshire Democrats have won 13 out of last 15 statewide races.
  • Notes New Hampshire’s all-female all-Democrat delegation in Congress

First question: Jon Ralston asks if there are still hard feelings and differences within the party over the Bernie/Hillary primaries.

Ellison: “I supported both candidates, one in the primary, one in the general. I was proud to support both of them.”
“We got a fight ahead of us, we got to come together. I will preach unity. I will teach unity.”

Harrison: “Coming out of 2008 convention, I was scared because divisions within Obama folks and Hillary folks was tense.”
Thought going into the 2016 race, it was going to be sort of the same.  But that never really happened.
“I grew up in South Carolina. All I ever knew was being a Democrat.” Mentions his work as whip count working for James Clyburn’s office when Democrats controlled House majority.

Buttigieg: “My most important job is to bring the community together. Part of how I got 80 percent of the vote in the last election was not by being conservative.”
“I am not interested in relitigating the 2016 primary. Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as president in less than one week. We don’t have time to relitigate the 2016 primary.”

Greene: “It is very clear that the media wants this race to devolve into a Clinton-Sanders rehash.”
“One of the most disappointing things I’ve seen since entering this race 48 hours ago are the names I’ve been called by my fellow Democrats.”
“There is a system out there that wants this to fester. Until we start to understand how they are manipulating our process, how they are manipulating our party, how they delivered this man to the White House, that will continue to fester.”

Buckley: “I served as chairman of NHDP in 2008 and 2016. There is not one hint that I or anyone on my staff had a thumb on the scale.”
“I will never sign joint fundraising agreement with a candidate as chair of DNC. We should never do that again.”
Notes that he helped ensure Bernie Sanders had access to the New Hampshire ballot as a Democrat.

Boynton Brown: This is not just about Bernie and Hillary, this is about urban and rural.  Until we stop talking about theoretical reconciliation and look at who has issues with each other, we’re not going to solve this.

Perez: Dem primary is like Thanksgiving dinner at my house with extended family.
“When we do it together, we do it better.”

Ralston Second Question: Trump is a different kind of president in how he communicates, has 19 million Twitter followers. You will be responsible for messaging.

Greene: I encourage you to watch what i did at 4:20 this morning, because that’s what it’s going to take for DNC chair to counter Trump.
We have to build a pipeline of diverse, young, passionate messengers.
It is going to take solid messenger to push back against hate, lies, disinformation about our candidates and values. No question that we rightfully went high in this election. When they went low, there was no bedrock to meet them.

Boynton Brown: hear this in Idaho… we have 2 types of people in our party – people that want to stay positive and people who want to punch people in the eye.
President is most narcissistic person I’ve ever encountered.
Not saying we need to ignore him, I’m saying go back to Psychology 101 for how to counter that.
Heard from too many states that we have to distance ourselves from the DNC. Why?
We cannot afford to lose a single voice in this party, we need to gain more voices

Harrison: Notes that by 2008 Democrats had House majority and 60-seat supermajority in U.S. Senate. Lost it all within a decade.
Until we fix basic foundation of our party, we can have best message in the world but it ain’t going anywhere other than email inboxes.
We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on TV ads. How many of you actually watch those things?

Perez: Howard County, Iowa went for Obama by 21 points in 2008, and went for Trump by 21 points in 2016. We have to understand why that’s happening.
We have to make sure rural America understands our message of economic opportunity is the message that will help them better their lives.
Re: battling Donald Trump “You don’t go to a knife fight with a spoon.”
“We got to have a no spoon rule.”

Buckley: We are going to beat back Trump and Republicans if we understand simple fact that TV ads and mailers do nothing but make corporate media rich.
One neighbor talking to another neighbor is most powerful voice we have.

Buttigieg: I’m looking forward to opportunity to take it to the opposition, to take it to Donald Trump.
He has a peculiar genius for attracting attention. Once he’s in charge, that will turn into genius for projecting blame.
“We were so busy talking about Donald Trump, they were saying ‘Who’s talking about me?'”

Ellison: In Arizona, raising minimum wage won, but state went for Trump.
Rhetoric is defeated by relationship. We got to make that reality by going door-to-door.

Q&A from Audience. First question from Christine Pelosi: why is the DNC still not as diverse as America? Wants resolution voted on in Atlanta. Asks support for resolution for ban from corporate donations to DNC and appointing corporate lobbyists.

Boynton Brown: I will. Need to decentralize power.  Issue is about access.  What we need to do is make sure everybody has equal access, whether you are homelss person or very influential with lot of money.  Chair needs to set up appointments with people who are not influencers or donors.
Yes, I am in favor of that ban.

Ellison: I would support it, but ask how are we going to make up the money? Takes lot of money to run a campaign.  I will not impose it. It will be a debate we will have, different people allowed to offer different views.  Democratic Party should be run democratically.

Greene: I support in principle, but agree with congresasman this has to be conversation among the Democratic Party.

Perez: Need to make sure we are party of economic opportunity, justice.
Need to debate this. What are intended and unintended consequences?
If we don’t consider both, we may live to regret decisions that we make.

Harrison: State parties do not have money. DNC has not been giving us money to invest in us.
ASDC ask all candidates to agree to $25,000 a month… each state party gets $25K a month. If we agree to that, where does the money come from?  We are in minority in every aspect.  I think we need to take long look at that.

Buckley: The real issue here is power of the chair, in nominating process or fundraising.
The chair has been allowed to make choices and decisions. I think that’s wrong.
Those positions were created in 1988 for diversity, not for fundraising.

Buttigieg: Might be matter of law, change the constitution.
Broad fundraising base, grassroots funding.  Reflects America.

Q from Suzy Shannon (DNC member, California): how are you going to engage and partner with organizations…

Harrison: In SC, building bench is part of how we revitalize our party.  Clyburn Fellowship.

Ellison: DNC needs to partner with progressive organizations.  Organized labor. Young Democrats of America.

Perez: Civil rights is about coalition building.
RNC, Koch Brothers and nonprofits are sure as hell collaborating, probably illegally but the FEC is useless.

Q from Oregon delegate: what can we do to make sure every American casts their vote?

Buckley: Turnout among Dems in NH up 3 percent in 2014. The answer: neighbor to neighbor organizing. DNC has to support state partiers.

Perez: have to play offense and defense.  Protection side is play defense against voter ID laws and purging of voter rolls.  You learn in NV, success was about early voter registration.  This is an all hands on deck exercise.

Buttigieg: I’m from Mike Pence’s Indiana. I got turned away trying to vote with my military ID.  The systematic effort to prevent people from voting is voter fraud, and we’ve got to call it out for what it is.

Ellison: same day voter registration.

Boynton Brown: Missed step 1 – talk to people who aren’t voting and ask why?
It’s 21st century, we need to get to place to have conversation of what online voting looks like.
20 years from now I don’t think we’ll be getting in lines at the polls to vote.

Harrison: Next time we have opportunity, have to stop being reative nad start being proactive.

Q: Larry Merkani (?) from Alaska Democratic Party: will budget be secret to DNC members and exec committee members?

Buttigieg: Comfortable with transparency.  Transparency and accountability will be priority if I am elected.

Ellison: Yes. Should not be a secret, we should have transparency.

Buckley: Absolutely.  Officers need monthly reports.  Officers weren’t told we took out millions of dollars in loans before the election. We had no idea.

Perez: Need to transofrm the culture of the DNC. You transform cultures by being good listener.
How we’re spending money – procurement.  Look at amount of money that goes out, it’s a lot of money, hundreds of millions of dollars.

Greene: Need to hold DNC to same standard as campaigns.


Author: David de Sola

Editor/Publisher Political Wilderness

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