DNC Forum Houston Liveblog – Vice Chair Candidates

The Field of Candidates for Vice Chair:
Michael Blake, New York
Melissa Byrne, Pennsylvania
Mitch Ceasar, Florida
Maria Elena Durazo, California
Liz Jaff, Washington, D.C.
Lorna M. Johnson, California
Latoia Jones, Washington, D.C.
Grace Meng, New York
Rick Palacio, Colorado
Adam Parkhomenko, Virginia

Liz Jaff notes that some DNC members don’t know what the vice chair does
Says it is time to rethink the role.

Maria Elena Durazo: We need to do a better job electing the most progressive candidates to office. We did it in California.

Mitch Caesar: This is an opportunity. We don’t have White House or Congress.
We have movement here that is genuine. Need to be part of it, not coopt it.
Need to bring everybody to the table.
So many people were so confident we couldn’t lose this election, and here we all are today.

Grace Meng: Because of this president, many people at JFK so Americans with green cards and man who served with US army 10 years not separated from his family.
Momentum for 2017, 2018, and 2020 elections.  Our job to provide infrastructure so our state parties and candidates have tools and resources to run for office and increase turnout.

Latoia Jones: We need them (marchers) more than they need us.
We have to recruit them, engage them and train them. When we do that, we win.

Adam Parkhomenko: When someone steps up with a good idea or movement, it’s a good idea to work with them.
Ready for Hillary worked because people felt invested.
All this money spent on TV, if we could invest it locally..

Melissa Byrne: I’m running for Vice Chair of the Resistance
Need to make sure every senator votes “Hell, no!” on all the nominations.
Need to make sure Democrats introducing legislation.
When they try to build that wall, we are right there tearing down that wall.
We are the Resistance, we are going to win!

Rick Palacio: We need to afford Donald Trump and Republicans the same benefits they gave President Obama.
We need to be the Resistance as Democrats, oppose all these nominees.
Stand up for our Muslim brothers and sisters.
Stand up with our LGBT brothers and sisters.
Stand with our brothers and sisters in Labor as well.

Lorna Johnson:
We’re in touch with the young people

Maria Elena Durazo: Extraordinary movement in Phoenix. Registered tens of thousands of new voters in the heat of the summer.  What moved them was fact we were out to create more just equal society, and we gave them freedom to talk about it in their terms.
We gave them space to talk about it for themselves. I didn’t pretend to speak for them and nobody else should. Create space for people to speak for themselves and say it in their words.

Liz Jaff: Look at our panel. Lot of young people running for office. The press needs to talk about that. The chair candidates are great. They need to talk to us. We are millennials running to be their vice chairs.
Bunch of Bernie, Hillary and Obama people got 1,500 young people to sign up to run for office.

Michael Blake: talk about technology… People want to be involved. Have to start listening towhat’s going on.  Young people believe in our vision.
Don’t sit there on Facebook or Instagram. Get out there and mobilize. I refuse to sit on the sidelines while we have a demagogue in the White House.

Grace Meng: Tech increasingly important.  Work with sttes and state legislators to make sure our voting rolls are current.
Future Forum – ask DNC chair candidates to provide line item in DNC budget to trget youth and millennial generation, and technology.

Melissa Byrne: As only Bernie alum up here, connecting tech with young people was because we were able to connect with them on key issues.
Connecting offline is where you really build power.
Want to work with DSCC and DCCC to undo their email program. How many of you have gotten “the sky is falling” messages?

Mitch Ceasar: Lot of areas we need to win, but also lot of areas we need to lose not so badly.
We win in South Florida. Central Florida is a swing area. We lose in North Florida. If we did a little better there, our odds would increase.
We need to have a southern strategy.
The DNC needs to invest in the South. The South is there to be picked up on, it is there to be gained from. Use this as an opportunity.
I don’t like losing to Republicans, I’ve done that before. But I don’t like losing to THIS GUY.

Adam Parkhomenko: The sad part is we have to keep asking this question.
Howard Dean talked about this as the outsider, came in, won.
Key here – stick to the rules in the charter.  Saw this in the primary.
DNC needs to be resource to the states.
I did anything and everything I could during 2 and a half months I was at DNC to help Georgia.
We have state parties with no money. State parties like Kentucky that got into debt because they decided to double down.
Kansas – best election in years.
Alaska – took back the House.
Every officer elected should play a role to raise funds for state party partnership.

Lorna Johnson: The system is broken and needs to be rebuilt, from grassroots up.
State and local levels have been ignored during non-election years.
Funding – so we can have year round program.
Need transparency and accountability for the funds that we raise.
In order to get legislative seats, must get out the vote. Local voting is important.

Rick Palacio: DNC lost focus. Turned into a machine which large sums of money went to state parties to elect president every 4 years.
Rebuild our state parties.
Strengthen our parties, empower them to recruit local candidates.
Unacceptable for Republicans to go unchallenged anywhere, even if it’s solid red county or district.
We’re going to grow from inside out, not from top down.

Grace Meng: It is incredibly important, local candidates feel like they have no support.
As we build toward reform, one of our big challenges redistricting: have to make important strides before tackling topic of 2020 presidential elections.

Liz Jaff: we don’t provide tools, resources or data
Want more people to run for office.
We’re closing off information and data, people get upset and move away from the party.
Need to make that information a lot clearer.
This is about crowdsourcing information.
Competition makes us better.

Michael Blake: have to make it easier for everyone to vote.
Can’t shttps://wordpress.com/post/politicalwilderness.com/2461it silently by while restrictive policies on the vote.
Should support open primaries. Anyone that wants to vote that should be able to.
Should embrace change, change makes us better party.
Engage all of the time.

Michael Ceasar: We are at crossroads.  Have to search soul and decide whether primaries or caucuses way to go.
Last 8 years, had Dem in White House, decisions were made for us.  We don’t have the White House anymore

Melissa Byrne: What you can do today on local level is knock on a door, build a community. Have 10 friends come over, talk about issues important to your community, go hit 20 doors and talk to people.
In elections, you work backwards.  Figure out all benchmarks you need to accomplish today.
Pay interns $15 an hour – no more unpaid internships.

Rick Palacio: Colorado has 64 counties, 3 organizers. They divide up the state.
Encouraging them to run for office. People who volunteer on campaign are perfect candidates to run for office.
Ask people who don’t want to run for something to make phone calls or write letters to elected officials.
Encourage people to do something simple like have a house party. Invite friends and neighborhood organizations to come in and start spreading the word.
Community engagement meetings is how we do it in Colorado. Encourage other state party chairs to do the same.


Latoia Jones: We have a connection issue. We’re not connecting with young voters, etc.
Need to hear what they’re saying.
In Georgia, we moved the needle. I have done this work.

Mitch Ceasar: I’ve done everything from raise money to organize campaigns to media.
I was one of originators of Florida Recount case in 2000.
I drew ire of Rush Limbaugh by name.
I’m here because I care about party and philosophy we share.

Maria Elena Durazo: Courage of workers at Trump hotel who voted for forming unions and voted against him as president inspired me.

Michael Blake: King said we remember the silence of our friends

Melissa Byrne: Protested Trump in Philly because he had audacity to show up in sanctuary city.

Lorna Johnson: We all want transparency, state party funding, and to be included. The question is implementation.

Grace Meng: Want transparency and accessibility to the budget.  Support candidates so we can increase accessibility to our candidates and increase local turnout. Diversity and inclusion – where we put or money is where priorities lie.

Rick Palacio: When we don’t stand up for one another, no one else will.
Now is not the time for us to be fighting amongst ourselves. Rebuild party from inside out.
The next 4 years going to be long, and we’re not going to win anything sniping at others’ heels.

Liz Jaff: We need to get stuff done. DNC is toolkit for the people. Democrats have never been stronger, more sexy. Donald Trump coming for you.

Adam Parkhomenko: Spent career investing and growing grassroots of our party.  I’m a workhorse. Spoken with 400 DNC members now. I’ve heard a lot, heard you want to see more respect for state parties, real funding for state parties, heard you want to win more downballot elections, heard you want a partner at the DNC.  I want to be that partner, make sure you have someone there for you.


Author: David de Sola

Editor/Publisher Political Wilderness

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