The New York Times has a good writeup on the behind-the-scenes dynamics happening in the race to lead the Democratic National Committee. Officially, the Obama administration is staying neutral in the race, but the White House is quietly looking for an alternative to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who has accumulated the most endorsements so far in the race. At issue, according to the report: “Elevating Mr. Ellison would amount to handing the party to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mrs. Clinton’s primary race opponent, and his liberal followers.”
The concerns with Ellison are his inability to do the DNC job full-time as a sitting member of the House of Representatives, as well as his previous criticism of Obama and his previous praise of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. (Aides had agreed to make Ellison available for an interview to the NYT for this story until they were told he would be asked about Farrakhan.)
Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm and Labor Secretary Tom Perez are said to be viewed favorably as candidates by the administration. Granholm had already publicly taken herself out of the running several days ago, but it’s not clear if the administration has lobbied or spoken with her since those comments. Perez’s post-administration plans are not yet known. He may throw his hat in the ring for the DNC chairmanship or he may bide his time and run for governor of Maryland in 2018.
UPDATE: I should note that while Ellison is the presumptive frontrunner in the race right now because of the number of endorsements he has picked up and the political muscle behind them (Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, etc.), those endorsements won’t mean anything when it comes down to the actual vote. According to NBC News, “The election won’t be held until late February during a meeting in Atlanta, and the only votes that matter are those of the several hundred members of the Democratic National Committee.”
According to NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) have withdrawn from consideration for the DNC chairman election.
Two names from the Obama administration have also surfaced: Vice President Joe Biden (who, according to a spokesman, declined interest in the position) and outgoing Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Keep in mind Perez was considered as a potential running mate by Hillary Clinton earlier this year, and NBC News also points out that he may opt to bide his time and run for governor of Maryland in 2018 against incumbent Republican Larry Hogan.
As of this morning, the candidates who are in the race or have expressed interest are:
- NH Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley
- Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.)
- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)
- SC Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison
- NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) called into the Keepin’ It 1600 podcast to discuss his candidacy for DNC chair. Here are some Ellison quotes from the episode:
- “I don’t think we can make outreach to exist to fight Trump. Outreach has to exist to fight for the American working people: the overwhelming majority of folks who go to work every single day, hope to make enough money to be able to retire one day, hope to make enough money to put food on the table and do something good for their kids, you know? So that’s where it’s at, that seems to guide everything that we do. My take on it is we need to speak to that issue, speak to trade, outsourcing. We need to speak to minimum wage, collective bargaining. It’s about the money. A lot has been made about the white working class. I think we’d better take a look at the working class, of all colors. I’m telling you, everybody is hurting. I think the average wage in America, and I might be wrong on this, is about $16.75. We have a federal minimum wage of $7.25 and a tip wage of $2.13. It’s true that states have been doing a lot. In this last election, four states actually increased their minimum wage. The one thing that unites us all is money and economic opportunity. The money is more than the money. The money is prosperity, it’s a sense of achievement, having enough resource in the richest country in the world has something to do with your chances, your idea of who you are, what your possibilities in life are. But the economy is not working for a lot of people.”
- I’m going to tell you: Obama, bless his heart, all those numbers of private sector job growth, unemployment level brought way down, those things are really good. But we were digging out of such a deep, deep hole, that we are now just seeing some moderate job growth and now all of the sudden we are staring Trump straight in the face. At the same time, corporate profitability is way up. Wall Street trading massive volumes. And then of course, the money bleeds into the politics. Because if you’ve got a lot of money, after you buy a bunch of consumer items, you can invest in the political system and make that go your way, too and people feel like the system is not working for them.”
Continue reading “DNC Candidate Keith Ellison: “I think I bring a skill set that can help us win””
Politico’s Daniel Strauss obtained this email New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley sent out to members of the DNC:
Buckley hasn’t committed himself one way or the other (yet) as to whether or not he will get in the race, but he does list his record and position on issues important to DNC members. In other words, he is teasing a potential run, while still leaving enough wiggle room to back out if he so chooses.
Howard Dean, Keith Ellison, and Jaime Harrison have already declared themselves in the race. If Buckley gets in, that would make four candidates in the field.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) met with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence today, making her one of the first Democrats to do so, amid the flurry of meetings they are holding with potential cabinet and White House appointees.
Gabbard was a Bernie Sanders supporter in the Democratic primary, and is also a vocal opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an issue Trump ran against during the campaign. McClatchy notes that, “Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, reportedly likes Gabbard because of her stance on guns, refugees and Islamic extremism along with her ability to invoke strong anti-establishment populist sentiment on the left.”
What – if anything – this means as far as a possible Gabbard role in the Trump administration is not known at the present time.
From CNN’s Sara Murray:
From NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald, here is Gabbard’s statement on the meeting:
Many volunteers and staffers from Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns and his administration have already left government for other personal or professional ventures, but according to Politico, many of them are now tapping into the Obama political network to discuss options for what they can do to oppose the incoming Trump administration after January 20. Many of them had assumed that their former boss’s legacy would be in the hands of his party’s chosen successor Hillary Clinton, a plan which went out the window after the November 8 elections. After taking a few days to process the outcome, many of them are regrouping and planning their next political and/or career moves.
President Obama himself will be involved, according to comments he made during a recent conference call, but not until after he leaves office. One of his post-presidential political plans is already known: the National Democratic Redistricting Committee – a 527 led by former attorney general Eric Holder that will focus on redistricting reform leading up to the 2020 presidential election and census. Part of this will involve getting Democrats elected to state legislatures so that, in states Democrats have majority control, they can design more favorable congressional districts for the following decade. Assume that Obama campaign and White House alumni will run for office in the not-too-distant future.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) released a list of 35 endorsements for his DNC chairmanship candidacy from elected officials and organizations on Friday. Among those who signed on: Senator-elect Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), United Steelworkers, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. This follows early endorsements from outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Ellison is clearly trying to build on his early momentum in an effort to lock down early front runner status. It is unclear as of right now which of the many potential candidates will emerge as his chief challenger(s).
Update: Ellison’s opponents (including former DNC chairman Howard Dean and South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison) and other Democrats are pushing back on his candidacy, arguing that his responsibilities as a member of Congress (votes, oversight, and constituents) would undercut his ability to do the DNC chairman job effectively. Their argument is that being the DNC chairman is a full-time job, especially now when the party is rebuilding. They point out Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was a member of the House of Representatives in addition to being the DNC chair during most of Obama’s presidency, who wound up having to resign from the job in the aftermath of a WikiLeaks email dump last summer.