Minnesota DFL Chairman Elected President of State Chairs Association

ATLANTA – Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, was elected president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, defeating Connecticut Democratic Party chairman Nick Baletto and Democratic Party of Virginia chairwoman Susan Swecker in a race that took three ballots to determine the victor. The Minnesota DFL will have considerable influence within the Democratic National Committee because two of its members – Martin and Rep. Keith Ellison – will hold senior positions in the party.

Swecker dropped out after the first ballot. The second ballot – a head-to-head matchup between Martin and Baletto – ended in a 56-56 tie, prompting the outgoing ASDC president Ray Buckley to quip, “God wants me to remain as president a while longer.” Martin won 62-48 on the third ballot.

In between ballots, Buckley asked South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison and Idaho Democratic Party executive director Sally Boynton Brown to join him at the front of the room to discuss the recent chairman race. He pointed out that all three of them brought the perspective and the issues facing the state parties to the top of the agenda in the race for the chairmanship.

“We traveled across this country to make sure your voice was heard,” Buckley said. “We educated not only the other candidates, but hundreds of thousands of people who watched the debates.” He noted that regardless of the subject of the question, “We went back to talking about state parties.”

Buckley also said that the relationship between the state parties and the DNC would change in a short time, noting that “We’ll be getting back in the winning business.”

Shortly after, the newly elected DNC chairman Tom Perez entered the meeting to a standing ovation from the state party chairs.  “Is Delaware in the house?” he asked, referring to the special election for the state senate seat that took place the same day. Stephanie Hansen won the race 58-41, up from a narrow 51-49 Democratic win in 2014. Perez pointed out that the DNC made a $300,000 investment in the race and said, “That’s the new paradigm.”

“I have an unlimited reservoir of optimism that we can turn this thing around.”

UPDATE/CORRECTION: I followed up with a Democratic Party official to try to verify and get more information about the $300,000 figure cited by Perez. The official said that if Perez said the DNC invested that amount of money in the race, then he misspoke. The official added that they think Perez said that $300,000 was the total amount spent, not the amount the DNC invested.

The official also added that the DNC helped out in the race through other ways – volunteer recruitment, sending out a Get Out The Vote email, and social media.

Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Running for Presidency of State Party Chairs

Susan Swecker, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, announced her candidacy for president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, the position currently held by New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley.  Here’s an excerpt from the letter she sent out to state party chairs and vice chairs to launch her campaign:

The message of my campaign and my goal if elected is simple: to help us grow and maintain strong Democratic Party infrastructures that are sustainable regardless of any one election cycle.  Simply put, we have done that in Virginia and I want to partner with you to build better, stronger vibrant state parties across the country.

I firmly believe the way to rebuild the Democratic Party starts with us.  As State Party Chairs and Vice Chairs we are on the ground – on the front lines – talking with voters, building programs, and we are the ones who know that we must not just turn out the base, but persuade voters. We, along with the organizations we have built in our states, are the ones who are the best hope Democrats have to rebuild from the bottom up.

While we lost the presidency on November 8th, we had many success stories. Working with our stakeholders we made decisions that brought victories at state and local levels.  We also saw the striking difference when our united efforts directly led to higher performance than the top of the ticket. That isn’t a coincidence – it is a testament to hard work, coordination and teamwork on the ground by the people who know the lay of the land the best.

Virginia has been one of the Democratic Party’s biggest success stories over the past decade or so, for statewide and congressional races, and has turned blue for the past three consecutive presidential campaigns, after a string of uninterrupted Republican victories from 1968 to 2004.

The election for the position will take place at the Democrats’ meeting in Atlanta at the end of February, at which they will also be electing officers for leadership positions in the Democratic National Committee.