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.

Jaime Harrison Drops Out of DNC Race, Endorses Tom Perez

ATLANTA – South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison announced he was dropping out of the race for Democratic National Committee chairman and endorsing former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. Harrison announced the decision on the first day of the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting in Atlanta, less than 24 hours after appearing on a televised candidates’ debate hosted by CNN and less than 48 hours before the election to pick the next chairman is scheduled to take place.

“In a former job, I whipped votes for House Democrats.  I know what a path to victory looks like.  Despite strong performances at the debate and DNC regional forums, the votes are simply not there for me to secure victory on Saturday,” Harrison wrote in an email to DNC members. “Tom Perez has brought integrity, passion, and tenacity to every job he’s ever had.  I have had a front-row seat to these qualities in the many debates and forums we have participated in.  These qualities are why Barack Obama and Joe Biden trusted him to spearhead an economic agenda that brought us out of the recession.  They are why Eric Holder trusted him to enforce our civil rights and voting rights laws so that everyone is treated equally under the law and has access to the ballot box.  And they are why I trust Tom to lead the Democratic turnaround as Chair of the DNC.”

“Every person who knows Jaime Harrison will say he is one of the smartest, most dedicated, and genuine leaders we know. Simply put, he’s one of a kind. Jaime’s commitment to the party is like no other and I’m proud to have his support as we both work together to invest in state parties, turnaround the DNC, and get back to winning,” Perez said in a statement. “If elected chair, I will work with Jaime and others who are running for chair to bring our party together because it will take every one of us to unite a party that is suffering from a crisis of confidence and relevance.”

Perez also announced today that he had received the endorsement of the entire Louisiana DNC delegation, as well as Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards. In a joint statement announcing the endorsement, they said, “Tom’s vision for the DNC and ours are the same — a DNC that competes in every ZIP code and empowers Democrats from the local to the federal level. For this reason and others, we proudly endorse Tom for DNC chair.”

According to a recent whip count of the DNC chairman race by the Associated Press, Perez leads Rep. Keith Ellison 205-153 out of 224 votes necessary to win the election.  The count also calculated Harrison’s support at 27 votes. If the Associated Press’s calculations are correct, Harrison could possibly push Perez over the top, though the DNC members who have endorsed him are not bound to his decision to back Perez.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who endorsed Ellison early in the contest, sent out a letter to DNC members this afternoon – after Harrison’s announcement – reaffirming his support for Ellison and defending him on Israel:

Other high-profile surrogates for Perez and Ellison have gotten involved in the final days of the race, according to NBC News:

As NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald pointed out, Harrison’s exit makes South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg the default third party candidate who might emerge as a dark horse compromise alternative if neither Perez nor Ellison are able to secure the necessary votes to win the election after multiple rounds of voting.  Buttigieg’s campaign received a major boost on Wednesday when it secured the endorsement of former DNC chairman Governor Howard Dean, who is well regarded within the party and had one its most successful tenures in recent times with victories in the 2006 and 2008 elections.   Buttigieg and Dean will be hosting a lunch for DNC members tomorrow.

DNC Chairman Race Home Stretch: Competing Whip Counts

ATLANTA – In the past few days, at least two news organizations have tried to do a whip count to gauge the state of the race for DNC chairman.

According to The Hill:

  • The Whip Count:
    • Keith Ellison – 105
    • Tom Perez – 57
    • The other candidates had less than a dozen votes each.
  • The Hill’s math only accounts for 162 out of 447 voting DNC members.
  • More than 50 DNC members undecided.

According to the Associated Press:

  • The Whip Count:
    • Perez – 205
    • Ellison – 153
    • Harrison – 27
    • Boynton Brown – 10
    • Buttigieg – 8
    • Greene – 0
  • AP’s math accounts for 403 out of 447 voting DNC members.
  • The magic number to win the race is 224.
  • If AP’s math is correct,
    • Neither of the two frontrunners has the race locked up.
    • Tom Perez is 19 votes shy of winning the race.
    • Jaime Harrison could play role of kingmaker and put Perez over the top with his 27 votes.
      • Even if Harrison and Perez work out some sort of deal along the lines of the one allegedly worked out between Keith Ellison and Ray Buckley, that doesn’t mean that Harrison’s 27 votes are obligated to vote for Perez.
    • Even if Keith Ellison were to win all 44 votes that are unaccounted for, he still comes up short.

Regardless of which story you read, take with a grain of salt, because alliances can shift as candidates gain momentum or drop out through the rounds.  Some promises or commitments may have been made privately, but that doesn’t mean they are binding. Because neither of the two front runners likely has a lock on 224 votes for an outright victory on the first ballot, there will likely be multiple rounds of voting.

CNN DNC Chair Debate Live Blog

Live debate in Atlanta co-hosted by CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Dana Bash:

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DNC Race Endorsement Counts, and Candidates Seeking Endorsements in Wyoming Today

The Wall Street Journal’s Reid Epstein has a good update on the state of the DNC chair race. (Keep in mind this story was written and published before Ray Buckley’s decision to drop out of the race and endorse Keith Ellison). Here are some highlights from the story:

  • Despite Tom Perez’s email to DNC members saying he had secured the support of 180 members, the campaign could only provide the WSJ with the names of 34 members who had publicly endorsed him.
  • Keith Ellison’s campaign provided the WSJ with a list of 56 DNC members who have publicly endorsed him.
  • Key caveat: “Neither campaign agreed to reveal their list of private commitments.”
  • DNC member endorsement counts for other candidates:
    • Sally Boynton Brown: 5
    • Ray Buckley: 8
    • Pete Buttigieg: 6
    • Jehmu Greene: 0
    • Jaime Harrison: 9
  • Sally Boynton Brown, as well as representatives from the Ellison and Perez campaigns, are in Laramie, Wyoming today for an event organized by state Democrats. None of Wyoming’s four DNC members has made a public endorsement in the race.

UPDATE: Since Buckley dropped out of the race, he is encouraging his supporters and the DNC members who endorsed him to get behind Ellison. The assumption is that they will do so, though they are free to get behind another candidate if they wish. 

DNC Race Home Stretch

The four regional forums are done, and in eight days, the 447 voting members of the Democratic National Committee will pick the party’s next chairman (or woman) and senior leaders.

The big drama in the past few days: Tom Perez sent out an email to DNC members saying he had locked up 180 votes – a claim which can’t be independently verified – out of the 224 votes necessary to win the chairmanship. This prompted Keith Ellison to send out his own email to DNC members accusing Ellison – without naming him – of misleading or misrepresenting his lead in the state of the race.  Young Turks reporter Nomiki Konst created a bit of a stir when she tweeted a series of photos showing Perez and Ellison having dinner together at a Dupont Circle restaurant after a candidates’ forum organized by the Woman’s National Democratic Club. Perez and Ellison subsequently tweeted that they were just friends, and in a statement pledged cooperation regardless of who won the chairmanship at the election later this month.

NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald reported that Ellison had offered New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley “a role leading DNC operations” in exchange for his endorsement in the race. Asked to comment on this report, a source close to Buckley responded, “The Chairman is still in the race and is keeping all options on the table right now. He wants to make sure whatever he does is in the party’s best interests.”

Beyond that, here is the list of all the endorsements that have been announced by the various candidates over the past several days:

Sally Boynton Brown:

Pete Buttigieg:

Keith Ellison:

Jaime Harrison:

Tom Perez:

DNC Forum Baltimore Liveblog

Moderated by April Ryan, Urban Radio Networks

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