Politics1 is reporting that outgoing Secretary of Labor Tom Perez will enter the race for chairman of the Democratic National Committee:
No other news organization has confirmed this as of this writing. If this reporting is accurate, Perez would presumably have to resign from his cabinet position in the immediate future so he can begin the process of campaigning for the DNC job.
Politico reported earlier today that Perez had stepped up his outreach to voting members of the DNC in recent days, though their story notes he was still considering a possible run for governor in Maryland in 2018 as well. Perez is “expected to hold a call with DNC members this week to discuss his intentions.”
Keith Ellison is seen as the frontrunner in the race now because of the number of endorsements he has racked up and the very public campaigning he has been doing for the job since the election last month. The other candidates in the race as of this writing are New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley and South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison. Perez could potentially be Ellison’s biggest challenger, given his proximity to President Obama and the fact that he was considered as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton this past election, although the potential downside to his candidacy is the risk of the DNC chairman race becoming a revisited proxy war for the Clinton-Sanders 2016 primary battle. Politico also noted that NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue is still considering entering the race as well.
The schedule for those campaigning for chairman and vice-chairman positions has stepped up recently, following recent events organized by Young Democrats of America in Memphis and the Ohio Democratic Party in Columbus where the candidates could speak and make their arguments. The campaigning will step up in the new year, when the DNC has scheduled four regional forums across the country for the candidates to make their case to Democrats ahead of the party’s winter meeting in Atlanta where the new chairman and vice-chairs will be chosen, scheduled for the end of February.
UPDATE: The New York Times is reporting Perez has told three senior Democrats that he intends to run for DNC chairman.
Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the U.S. Senate today when he had this very interesting exchange with reporters:
Vice President Joe Biden told a small group of reporters Monday that he may run for president in 2020.
“Yeah, I am. I am going to run in 2020,” Biden said when asked if he would run for office again. When asked what role he would seek, the 74-year-old vice president responded: “For president. And also, you know so, what the hell man, anyway.”
The vice president said, however, he wasn’t making a commitment to run when reporters asked if he was kidding.
“I’m not committing not to run. I’m not committed to anything. I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening,” he said.
Biden would be 77 years old on Election Day in 2020.
If he did throw his hat in the ring, he would probably have the most name recognition of anyone in the rumored Democratic field. Democrats from all ends of the spectrum admire and respect him for his work as senator and vice president. The only downside other than his age would be the fact that he has already run unsuccessfully for the nomination twice. The upside: the Melania Trump RNC speech controversy would neutralize the plagiarism scandal that derailed Biden’s 1988 run.
On the other hand, there is another real question Democrats will have to ask themselves: would a Biden 2020 run help, hurt, or delay their efforts to rebuild the party’s bench, as well as deny an opportunity for new national leaders to emerge?
There was a big development over the weekend in the ongoing protests about the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the easement for the DAPL to be built under Lake Oahe, a big win for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe which had opposed the project.
Here is how the declared candidates for the DNC chairmanship stand on the DAPL issue:
Rep. Keith Ellison:
South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison:
“I applaud the Army Corps for heeding the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and agreeing that an alternate route for the DAPL is needed to protect the safety and dignity of the nearby Reservation. While I was discouraged that the process proceeded as far as it did without necessary consultation, today’s announcement is a welcome indication that the Obama Administration has heard the voices of the Standing Rock Sioux and their many supporters. I hope the federal government builds on today’s decision to foster appropriate respect for Indigenous peoples in the future. And make no mistake: if the Trump Administration attempts to reverse today’s decision, or otherwise disregards the legitimate interests and concerns of Indigenous peoples, the Democratic Party will stand strongly with the first Americans.”
Because she is up for re-election in 2018, I’m also including Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp’s statement as well:
“It’s long past time that a decision is made on the easement going under Lake Oahe,” said Heitkamp. “This administration’s delay in taking action — after I’ve pushed the White House, Army Corps, and other federal agencies for months to make a decision — means that today’s move doesn’t actually bring finality to the project. The pipeline still remains in limbo. The incoming administration already stated its support for the project and the courts have already stated twice that it appeared the Corps followed the required process in considering the permit. For the next month and a half, nothing about this project will change. For the immediate future, the safety of residents, protesters, law enforcement, and workers remains my top priority as it should for everyone involved. As some of the protesters have become increasingly violent and unlawful, and as North Dakota’s winter has already arrived – with a blizzard raging last week through the area where protesters are located — I’m hoping now that protesters will act responsibly to avoid endangering their health and safety, and move off of the Corps land north of the Cannonball River.
“Additionally, our federal delegation and governor have been working together in a bipartisan effort to push for more federal resources for law enforcement who have worked day and night through weekends and holidays to support the safety of our communities. The administration needs to provide those funds – whether the protesters remain or not.”
There is no statement from New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley at this time. This post will be updated if that changes.
UPDATE: I received the following statement from Ray Buckley:
“I am pleased that the Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to explore alternate routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline. We need to ensure the protection of sacred and historic tribal sites as an integral part of American history and our larger culture.
“This victory belongs to the people of the Standing Rock Reservation and all the supporters and protestors who have passionately defended the land.”
Several Democrats – including a DNC chair candidate, an Obama cabinet secretary, and a potential 2020 presidential candidate – penned a collection of mini op-eds for the Washington Post outlining their vision for the party and its future. All of them are worth reading.
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.”
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.