Northam Leads Virginia Republican Candidates in New Poll

Eleven months out from the Virginia gubernatorial election, Democratic lieutenant governor Ralph Northam leads the four Republican candidates for the race in a new poll released by Quinnipiac University:

  • Northam 38
    Ed Gillespie 34
  • Northam 39
    Rob Wittman 30
  • Northam 39
    Frank Wagner 30
  • Northam 38
    Corey Stewart 29

Gillespie – the former chairman of the Republican National Committee – leads the Republican field in large part from name recognition after his narrow loss to Mark Warner in the 2014 Virginia Senate race:

  • Gillespie 24
  • Wittman 10
  • Wagner 4
  • Stewart 4

The majority of Republican voters – 57 percent – are undecided. It should also be noted that Wittman dropped out of the race last week.

Virginia governors approve of the job Governor Terry McAuliffe is doing 52-30. McAuliffe can’t run for reelection because Virginia state law limits governors to one term. Broken down into political demographics:

  • Democrats approve 75-8.
  • Independents approve 52-32.
  • Republicans disapprove 57-27.

Virginia is a rare bright spot in the south for Democrats, and one of their big success stories over the past decade in state and presidential election cycles. Democrats currently hold all five statewide elected offices – governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and both U.S. Senate seats – in what had previously been a Republican-leaning state.

NYC Mayor Endorses Keith Ellison

Scoop by NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald:

“The Democratic Party stands at a crossroads, and needs leadership that will expand our vision to more Americans — while also intensifying our commitment to our core values. Keith Ellison is that leader,” de Blasio said in a statement provided to NBC News.

The mayor of the country’s largest city has positioned himself as a national progressive leader and is the latest in a long list of liberals supporting Ellison. But de Blasio also has longstanding ties to Hillary Clinton, whose 2000 Senate campaign he managed and whom he backed in the Democratic presidential primary.

In his endorsement, de Blasio called Ellison “a unifier who worked tirelessly for both Bernie Sanders and then Hillary Clinton, he will bring the party and the grassroots together while broadening and deepening the Democratic Party’s connections to the American people.”

And the mayor praised Ellison as a “grassroots organizer,” who “has delivered real results like voter turnout in his native Minnesota,” while also being a “passionate fighter for economic fairness.”

The endorsement comes just before Tom Perez’s official entry into the race to be the next chairman of the DNC. According to a Politico survey of the voting members of the Democratic National Committee, Ellison is the frontrunner right now but he has not put this race away. De Blasio is up for re-election in 2017.

Top Sanders Aide Running for California Congressional Seat

Arturo Carmona – the former national deputy political director to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign – announced that he is running for the seat in California’s 34th congressional district recently vacated by Xavier Becerra:

He’ll be running against former California Assembly speaker John Perez, who announced his candidacy for the seat the day Becerra accepted the state attorney general nomination from Jerry Brown.

Former Clinton Staffer Running for DNC Vice Chair

Adam Parkhomenko – a Hillary Clinton 2008 staffer and co-founder of Ready for Hillary, who most recently served as the Democratic National Committee’s national field director for the 2016 election – announced that he is running for DNC Vice Chair.  He had previously been considering a run for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.

According to Buzzfeed:

Parkhomenko, 31, said Tuesday that he hopes to succeed former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, one of the party’s current five vice chairs. Rybak, however, has already endorsed another Democrat to step into his own vice chair seat: Michael Blake, a New York assemblyman who worked on President Obama’s campaigns.

Parkhomenko said he has already secured support from a significant number of DNC members, who meet in late February to vote on the party’s leadership. He pointed to plans to invest heavily in grassroots organizing — his focus on the Clinton campaign — and help retool the DNC’s presence on the ground in the states.

According to his campaign website, he will be present at the four DNC regional forums and the winter meeting in Atlanta scheduled for January and February.

Democratic Governors Want Next DNC Chair to Commit to Investing in State Races

The Democratic Governors Association released an open letter to the candidates running for chairman of the Democratic National Committee listing the five criteria the DGA will use to evaluate candidates. From the letter:

1) Real, measurable commitment to investing resources in winning gubernatorial and state legislative races in 2018 and 2020, years that will decide the fate of redistricting;

2) A commitment to investing in organizing in states with competitive gubernatorial and legislative races — not just in states with competitive presidential or congressional elections;

3) A commitment from the candidate to serving full time as chair;

4) Commitment to provide resources to state parties for organizing and communications staff; to provide technical assistance for redistricting; provide training and support to recruit and support next generation of Democratic leaders;

5) A commitment to working with Democratic governors and other state policy leaders on advancing policies that grow our economy and strengthen the middle class.

The first two points are especially critical for the party’s short and long-term rebuilding plans. First, congressional redistricting is four years away, and in order to redraw more favorable maps, Democrats need to control governorships and state legislatures. (South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison noted at the forum organized by the Ohio Democratic Party last week: “33 out of 50 governorships are controlled by Republicans, 69 out of 99 state houses are controlled by Republicans, but we only obsess about the White House.”) The fact that the Democrats’ 2017-2018 calendar is much better at the state level than at the congressional level gives this even greater urgency.
The second reason is that they need to rebuild their bench in a hurry so that a new post-Obama, post-Clinton generation of leaders can make their way up the ranks. Remember, Barack Obama was in the Illinois state senate for seven years before he was elected to the U.S. Senate, which became his springboard to the presidency four short years later.

Senate Democrats Catch Two Lucky Breaks

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is probably breathing a sigh of relief  after getting two bits of good news today.

First: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who was being considered for the Secretary of Energy position in the Trump Administration, announced that he would be remaining in the Senate.  Former Texas governor Rick Perry wound up getting the top job in the government agency he wanted to eliminate as a 2012 presidential candidate but couldn’t name. (Here’s video of the infamous “Oops” moment which derailed his candidacy.)

Second: Donald Trump chose Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) for Secretary of Interior. Zinke, a former Navy SEAL who just finished his first term in the House of Representatives, was considered a serious challenger for Montana Democratic senator Jon Tester’s 2018 reelection campaign.  Political observers weighed in on this development via Twitter:

Tom Perez Likely to Enter the Fray for DNC Chairman

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.