ATLANTA — Former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean took a swipe at Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer while addressing a room full of DNC members earlier today.
“I think Chuck Schumer’s endorsement is the kiss of death,” Dean said at a lunch organized by South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is running to be the next chairman of the organization. Dean has endorsed Buttigieg.
The context for the comment was an argument that Dean – then the DNC chairman – and Schumer – then the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – had approximately a decade ago over use of party funds. According to Dean, Schumer wanted more money from the DNC for his committee, a decision Dean opposed by investing the money in state and local parties. During Dean and Schumer’s tenures as chairs of their respective committees, Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress in 2006, and expanded their congressional majorities and won the White House in 2008.
The subtext to Dean’s comment – implicit or not – is the fact that Schumer was one of the earliest and most prominent Democrats to endorse Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in the DNC race when it began in late 2016. Ellison was considered one of the frontrunners in the race along with former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez for the past several weeks, but Perez has apparently seized the momentum in the final stretch of the race after unveiling a series of endorsements from voting members of the DNC in support of his candidacy over the past 48 hours. According to Politico, Schumer sent out a letter to DNC members yesterday reaffirming his support for Ellison and defending him on Israel.