James Clyburn Endorses Jaime Harrison for DNC Chair

South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison picked up his first big endorsement today in his race for to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Rep. James Clyburn (R-S.C.), his former boss and the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, sent out an email to DNC members this morning endorsing his former aide, according to Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti.

Harrison’s response on Twitter:

UPDATE: I’ve obtained a copy of the Clyburn email. A good part of the email is biographical in nature, but here are the key excerpts:

I write to strongly encourage you to support Jaime Harrison for Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  He has the experience, vision, and commitment to rebuild our party and to return us to victory on national, state, and local levels.

Jaime’s experiences have made him adept at connecting with people at all levels – from South Carolina fish fries and Maryland crab boils to the hallowed halls of our finest colleges and universities.  Jaime is well regarded by many of my colleagues here and by Democrats from around the country.  We need someone who understands, appreciates, and values the diversity of our party. Jaime Harrison is pitch-perfect for the job.

Our next DNC chair must work full-time to rebuild our party.  The Chair must bridge the divide between those who navigate our political corridors and those who work hard, play by the rules, and want little more than to care for their families and to create stability and opportunity for their children and grandchildren.  I know from over 20 years of experiences with Jaime that he is the right person for the job.  His unrelenting work ethic, keen intellect, collaborative spirit, and utmost integrity will serve our party well.  I commend him to you for your sincere consideration and, hopefully, strong support.

Democratic Senator Announces Opposition to Trump HHS Nominee

Senator Joe Donnelly – an Indiana Democrat up for reelection in 2018 – released a statement today announcing his opposition to Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Donald Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, citing Price’s position on overhauling and privatizing Medicare in his capacity as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

The fact that a red state Democrat like Donnelly (who is from the same state as Vice President-elect Mike Pence) is willing to do this shows that he (presumably) thinks this is an issue he can run on two years from now. Whether other Senate Democrats do the same remains to be seen, but Price’s confirmation hearing should be interesting to watch for this issue as well as his views on repealing, dismantling, and/or replacing Obamacare.

Keith Ellison Describes Fidel Castro’s Legacy as “A Mixed Bag”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) – the presumed frontrunner in the race to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee – was asked for his views about the legacy of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro during an interview on SiriuxXM Radio’s The Karen Hunter Show:

ELLISON: He [Castro] was a revolutionary leader who confronted a system of government that excluded everybody except the military and the monied rich. Because he took them on and defeated them, and set the country up in a way where, did he use harsh, dictatorial tactics? Yeah, probably he did. But did he also stand up for peace and freedom in Africa? Absolutely. His Cuban forces took on the South African apartheid military forces and defeated them. He deployed doctors everywhere from Chernobyl to all over Africa. Wherever people were sick, he sent those doctors there. He made medical education very available, made medicine available.
So if you look at his legacy, you have to say that he confronted people with a lot of power on behalf of people who didn’t have any. But he also did jail people who were political critics of his. He did also not allow total and free speech, and so I think it’s a mixed bag. But for anybody to say that he was all bad, that’s all wrong.

Listen to the audio of the comment here:

Democrats Looking Ahead to Governors’ Races in 2017 and 2018

Politico has a good look at the governors’ races coming up in the next two years, and how they offer the Democratic Party’s best immediate chances as a path to rebuilding in the wake of the recent election.

Coming up first are the New Jersey and Virginia governor’s races and statewide legislative races scheduled for late 2017. Candidates in both parties are already moving in these races. I will write a preview/outlook of these states and races in December as a look for what’s ahead in the new year.

Even further down the line are the 2018 midterms. The Senate calendar that year is particularly difficult, and the likelihood of retaking the House of Representatives is slim. However, 26 out of 36 governor’s mansions up for election (or re-election) are held by Republicans. This means that if Democrats can retake some of those states, their party will be in place and in control for the 2020 census and redistricting.

The great unknown right now will be the dynamics of the country and individual states going into those election cycles. Looking at it one or two years ahead, the two obvious factors that will have an impact will be the state of the economy, as well as the popularity of the Republican-controlled Washington DC (President Trump and the McConnell/Ryan Congress).

Lots more on this subject to come in the future.

DNC Candidate Keith Ellison: “I think I bring a skill set that can help us win”

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””

Tulsi Gabbard Meets with Donald Trump

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.

UPDATE:

From CNN’s Sara Murray:

From NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald, here is Gabbard’s statement on the meeting:

Ellison Rolls Out 35 Endorsements for DNC Chair

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.