DNC Forum Houston Liveblog Chairman Candidates

Here’s the field for the second DNC forum. Note that this will be the first appearance by the last four names at the bottom of the list.

Sally Boynton Brown, Idaho
Raymond Buckley, New Hampshire
Pete Buttigieg, Indiana
Keith Ellison, Minnesota
Jehmu Greene, Texas
Jaime Harrison, South Carolina
Honorable Tom Perez, Maryland
Peter Peckarsky, Wisconsin
Sam Ronan, Ohio
Vincent Tolliver, Georgia
Robert Vinson Brannum, Washington, D.C.

Q: What happened last year, what did party have to do with it, what are takeaways?

Ray Buckley: Have to address the nominating process.
Have to address superdelegates.
Have to address issue of caucuses and debate schedule.
Have to ensure DNC is above reproach when it comes to neutrality.
No question NHDP was fair to all. Need to make sure the DNC is the same.
Reinstate 50-state strategy.
If we had continued field organizing, I think we’d be looking at President Hillary Clinton and Senate majority.
In NH, we won for first time all four congressional seats.
Reform the DNC itself, the nominating process, rebuild the 50-state strategy.
Stop with the damn TV ads.

Jehmu Greene: List is long, that is why this process so important.
We lost because we thought media was our friend. They’re not.
We lost because we didn’t engage millennials.
We lost because we didn’t understand intersectionality. Racism, sexism, crassism, homophobia.
No question our brand was damaged, by Russia and WikiLeaks, damaged from within by our allies.
Rebuilding, rebranding, reengaging.

Keith Ellison: Reason we did not win is because we didn’t have good turnout.
Three states alone, 70,000 more people to the polls, we would have won.
Ignored the red states, ignored the blue states, focus on the swing states and only talk to the likely voters
Send resources from DC to Texas. Harris County killed.  Texas came closer than Ohio.
There are blue spots in red states, red spots in blue states. Got to invest.

Sally Boynton Brown:
Trump won, not the Republicans.
We lost touch with American people. Too many people sitting in room making decisions based on data, not on talking to people.
Engagement we have online – Trump doing very well.
Our leaders need to be on social media.

Q: Painted dark picture of where party is.  You were close to winning… Are things as bad as people have said? Is there overcorrection?

Tom Perez: People being detained at JFK and airports around country. immigrants living in fear. We don’t need to burn the house down.  We didn’t make house calls.
Republicans thought long term. After 2012, went into Florida with four-year engagement strategy. Brought in 130,000 new voters we hadn’t seen before and that was margin of victory.
Look at Georgia and Arizona.  Hillary only lost by 3 points. They did it without any help from the DNC. Imagine what we could have done if we had 50-state strategy.
Organizers in Texas should be from Texas. Organizers in Arizona tienen que hablar espanol.
It breaks my heart to see what happening across America.  Donald Trump entered office as most unpopular president in American history.
We need DNC chair who can translate energy. We need turnaround job, a turnaround specialist.

Q: Do you need an evolution or a revolution for this party?

Jaime Harrison: Perception is reality in politics. Perception now is…
Hillary Clinton had 3M more votes than Trump. In what competition have you engaged in where you have 3M more votes and still lose?
I understand historical context for why we have Electoral College, but sometimes things have to change. African Americans were once a percentage of a person. That had to change.
People have lost faith and trust.
Problem is we talk too much.  When voters make decision here and here (motions to heart and gut) Do you trust person you are going to vote for will fight for you?
Time for the Democratic Party to show them.

Q: What should reaction of Democrats be to President Trump?

Pete Buttigieg:
Sign me up for the Resistance
We underestimated.
He took a jackhammer to the foundations.
I’m interested in stopping the destruction fo America’s moral foundations.
People trapped in a Tom Hanks movie at the airport. Not Tom Hanks’s best movie.
Interpreters who worked with us in Afghanistan.

Q: Why are Democrats voting for unqualified nominees?

Peter Peckarsky: I would be voting against anyone who was unqualified.
Obligation of senators to examine nominees closely, examine their record, examination under oath. From what I’ve seen, these people unqualified.
Problem is I’m a lawyer. If they’re unqualified, it’s a no vote.
That’s how senators can stand up for us.  Ways others can stand for themselves, like last weekend.
2.5 million people on the street saying they’re not buying what he’s selling.
We’re stuck with him for 4 years. Doesn’t mean we have to agree with it or go along with him.

Vincent Tolliver: we lost because HRC didn’t pick right running mate.
Resistance – would not vote for anyone Trump nominated to office because we already know White House is a zoo.  I would not vote for anyone Trump nominated, period.
Response is organize. Nothing good coming out of White House.
Midterms coming in 2018.

Tom Perez: So many people out there saying give me some direction, I want to help.
Need to hold thousands of town hall meetings around the country to bring people together under vision of economic opportunity.
Existential threat for 18M Americans who could lose their health care under Affordable Care Act.
Refugees contribute to our communities. We have refugees vetted more than the Trump cabinet was vetted.
Give this president the same courtesy that Mitch McConnell gave to President Obama.

Q: March on April 15?

Sam Ronan: Viva La Resistance!
Protesting is the way forward because it’s being effective.

Keith Ellison: strategy of partnership with people who might be elected and progressive partners out in the streets.
An elected person cannot educate or mobilize the same way an organizer does.
Bring the bills that they are protesting for, and fight for them.
Inside/outside strategy.
Elections coming up in 2017. Push everything on the streets – dreamers, minimum wage, felon reenfranchisement.

Q: Mayor, you were only DNC chair candidate to march?

Pete Buttigieg: It was fun.
Fought back. Happy warrior.

Q: Democrats think fight fire with fire. Does DNC plan on countering Trump unorthodox style since going high doesn’t work? Be as dirty as he is and RNC?

Sally Boynton Brown: Respect everyone the way they want to do this.
Not my job to tell someone who wants to go high to do something differnet.  Not my job to tell someone who wants to punch in the eye to be respectful.
Great to embrace movement, but movement is chaotic and organic.
Can’t structure it.
It’s going to take every single creative way we can find to this

Q: lot of messaging from Clinton.  Outplay Trump at his game?

Jehmu Greene: we rightfully went high. No bedrock to greet Trump when he went low because we did not call his lie out early enough.
All candidates there in spirit with those women.
What is wrong with process, how we operate as  a party.
Answer stupid questions when we should be .
Make sure when they go low, there is bedrock to greet them.
We have 30k Dem municipal officials around the country.
All the internal conversation, systems and rocess…
We need to stop now, this moment we are in. If we keep doing same things and expect same result, that is definition of insanity.

Q: Since 2009, Dems lost more than 1,000 seats. Make America Red Again. How do you reverse this slide?

Jaime Harrison: How did we get here? Roots of 2016 were in 2008. That was last year we had 50-state strategy. OFA killed state parties.
You can’t have two organizations trying to do same thing.
State parties have less than $35k on hand. In two years they have governors races or have to defend Senate seats.
We can have 1,o00 activist. State parties don’t have capacity to handle all those volunteers.
If we want to fix DNC, invest in state parties. Outside organizations sucking money out of paries are killing us.
Once Obama, Sanders, Dean are gone, there will always be a Democratic Party.
Look at GOP – don’t see other organizations. They invest in their young people. All that lives in the RNC.
Q: Is the reason those seats lost because state parties not strong enough?

Ray Buckley: Not supposed to solve the problem, it will solve the problem.
Reince was chair of Wisconsin GOP. Need candidate that can get under the hood and fix the car.
In the last ten years, we have never won roe sets in New Hampshire, won 11/15 state seats and 3 presidential elections.  Is as purple as Texas.
If we don’t have an organization that can produce and win elections, it doesn’t mean anything.

Q: In Texas, no Dem elected statewide since 1994. Dems collect a bunch of money and take it out of state. If you were Dem donor in Teas, money going out of state, would you give them one dollar more?

Tom Perez: Not unique to Texas. This is about changing culture at DNC, making sure states are equal partners. Must help from schoolboard to the Senate. Texas is great example. Texas in recent election cut election margin in half. Elected first African American female sheriff in history of the state. All that without help from the DNC.
Same story in Georgia and Arizona.
When we invest 12 months a year in organizing.  Take the example of Nevada.
When you come into Texas for fundraiser share proceeds with state party.
All states at adults table, not at kids table.

Q: SBB you are from red state. If Idaho donor money taken out of state, is that donor going to give money again?

Sally Boynton Brown: When DNC goes into our states, they don’t contact us. Our officers and chairs don’t get tickets to events. We need a seat at that table.
When DNC going into states, ensure we also do mid-dollar donors and free events. Attract more people to your party.
Need to be having conversation of how we get more people.

Pete Buttigieg: I want as much money as I can to elect Democrats.

Keith Ellison: Sense ranking file everyday Democrat does not own the Democratic Party.
We should put bulk of money to raising from nurses, firefighters and teachers.
If we get our money from them, we’ll run in proper direction.

Q: Big money in the party or turn it away?

Keith Ellison: Not going to tell people they can’t help us.
Have to have party wide discussion about what it means for profit seeking corporation or their lobbyists to be funding our party.

Q: Has Dem Party stopped communicating with White Working Class Voters?

Vincent Tolliver: anytime you alienate a people you disenfranchise another.
Biden: Democrats allowed elitism to creep into the party.
Dem party doors open and ready for business, or we lose at ballot box.

Ray Buckley: I do not believe we are positioned at this moment.
Look at demographics of NH. We don’t have traditional Dem base.
Neighbor to neighbor program.
Read JD Vance book.
Moral of that book and challenge of our party: we are not giving them any hope.
We spend over $1 billion on TV ads and a fraction of that on ground game.
Give us just 2 percent of that. Let’s have office in every congressional district.
We have more than enough money.

Q: Should the party pass baton to the next generation?
Sam Ronan: That’s not the question. Question is are we going to get a place at the table.
Every single millennial has
Give them tools to succeed or we will fail.
We grew up in great economy that we watched get destroyed.
We are one of most diverse versatile people.
We are moving forward generationally, see more, want to participate more. We have drive, have the passion.
Local party didn’t help.
Talk about money and structure.
Military does things with redundancy and efficiency.

Pete Buttigieg: Young people don’t like being patted on the head being told they’re the future.  We’re the present.

Q: Deal with voter suppression and voter protection:

Peter Peckarsky: mentions Henry Kissinger testimony possibly perjuring himself under oath.
Have to be out there, seeing what happens to stop this.  Machines out there.
Report from CA and OH secretary of state – concluded machines we’re using susceptible to tampering.  We’ve done nothing to stop use of those machines.

Tom Perez: Voter suppression is one of greatest threats to our democracy. Voter suppression is a staple in the Republican playbook, in the ALEC playbook.
Texas is a full employment act for civil rights lawyers. I know that because we sued them.
We sued Texas because they had law to make it harder for African American and Latinos to vote.
We have to ramp up our game. Have good people doing it, but can’t go to a knifefight with a spoon. Call for creation of a Voter Protection and Empowerment unit.

Jaime Harrison: We had White House, majority in House, and 60 votes in US Senate. Why did we not enact any voter protection laws?
Use states as laboratories so when we get power back, we have a model.
We talk a lot in this party, but we don’t show people that we’re fighting for them and their rights.
Let’s put up legislation in states  we control and show we can be progressive in terms of voting rights.

Q: We depend on allied groups to take these bills to court. Is there role for party to have an in-house litigation team?

Keith Ellison: Critical for DNC to have inhouse litigation team.
Should organize Dem lawyers and litigators all over the country
Need to engage election systems 24/7
We are down to 3 secretaries of state. Have to get serious about electing secretaries of state and attorneys general.

Jehmu Greene: There is culture problem at DNC, but main problem is about our systems. How we allow new ideas to grow
Want to invest in state parties, give each state $100K
What are you going to do to change this party to be welcoming?

Q: Is there more the DNC should be doing for state members?

Sally Boynton Brown: Absolutely. How many people went to national convention?  Dog and pony show with inspirational speakers, but there’s real work you can do at conventions.
We have genius people in our prty that we aren’t bringing into our conversation.

Q: Step down from current position to focus on job full time?

Keith Ellison: I love being in Congress but will give it up to be chairman of the DNC.
We are in emergency situation. When Democrats not in office,

Pete Buttigieg:
Yes.

Tom Perez:
I will step down as Labor Secretary.

Author: David de Sola

Editor/Publisher Political Wilderness

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