DNC Forum Baltimore Liveblog

Moderated by April Ryan, Urban Radio Networks

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Former Maryland Governor Endorses Buttigieg for DNC Chair

Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland and Democratic presidential candidate, endorsed South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. O’Malley told Politico:

“I’ve known Pete Buttigieg for many years, he has been a terrific mayor. He’s one of those new, up-and-coming leaders in our country and in our party that’s really bringing forward a new and better way of governing,” O’Malley — who himself briefly considered a run for the chairmanship before bowing out in November — told POLITICO. “He speaks with a clarity that our party really, really needs right now. He has been successful in a so-called red state, he brings to the public service of being mayor the background of having served in our armed forces.”

“He is of a new generation of leadership. Our party sometimes talks about bringing forward a new generation of leadership, well, hey man, there’s never been a better time,” added O’Malley, referring to the 35-year-old veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Some context and back story here:

  • O’Malley briefly considered running for DNC chairman himself very early on but ultimately chose not to get in the race.
  • Buttigieg rival Tom Perez – a Maryland native – served as O’Malley’s secretary of labor in 2007.  That O’Malley is endorsing Buttigieg and not Perez is seen as a snub in some quarters.
  • O’Malley is endorsing Buttigieg days before the fourth and final DNC regional forum, scheduled to take place in Baltimore – the city where O’Malley was once mayor – this Saturday.

Buttigieg – a Navy reservist and veteran of Afghanistan – also received the endorsement of VoteVets, a progressive veterans’ group:

“Progressives need fresh and bold new leadership, like Mayor Pete, to lead the way to regaining the majority in Congress, and the White House,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran and Chairman of VoteVets.  “Veterans like Pete know how to communicate to so many Americans why it is progressive policies that will keep America safe, and prosperous.  Being from the heartland, Pete also knows how to reconnect with huge swaths of the country that Democrats, frankly, have ignored.  He has a record of success in Indiana doing just that – not just on a rhetorical level, but on a technical and strategic level, as a great organizer.  That’s why he’s exactly the right person to lead the progressive movement, as chair.”

Former DNC Chair Endorses Pete Buttigieg

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Steve Grossman has endorsed South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg to be the next chairman of the DNC, according to NBC News. In a letter sent out to DNC members – who will elect the party’s next chairman and senior leadership at the end of February – Grossman wrote that Buttigieg could, “transform the DNC through the power of his ideas and his ability to execute an ambitious plan.”

This is Buttigieg’s first big endorsement in the race, though only two other former chairs (Terry McAuliffe and Donnie Fowler) have endorsed candidates in this race (Tom Perez and Jaime Harrison).

DNC Chair Candidates React to Gorsuch Supreme Court Nomination

Sally Boynton Brown:

Ray Buckley:

“This is a stolen seat. The process for Antonin Scalia’s replacement has been delayed by Senate Republicans for nearly a year, and now we have an historically unpopular president who lost the popular vote by three million votes nominating a Scalia clone to the High Court. The American people won’t stand for this, and the Democratic Party will stand in lockstep with them.”

Pete Buttigieg:

Jehmu Greene:

Jaime Harrison:

“The judge nominated by President Obama for this Supreme Court seat, Merrick Garland, was called ‘a consensus nominee’ by Senator Orrin Hatch.  But Senate Republicans refused to even give him a hearing; Mitch McConnell said, ‘Let’s let the American people decide.’  Well, by a margin of almost 3 million, more Americans chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump to fill this seat.  So President Trump would have been wise to choose a consensus nominee like Merrick Garland.  But given Trump’s radical actions since the start of his presidency, we should not be surprised that he has chosen a judge whose record favoring big corporations and opposing civil rights suggests that he is a right-wing zealot.  Unless the hearings somehow reveal that Judge Gorsuch’s extreme record will not continue on our nation’s highest court, bring out the cots for a filibuster.”

Tom Perez:

“I always say that past is prologue, and today President Donald Trump proved that theory true when he announced a nominee just as extreme and divisive as his past 12 days in office. President Trump’s selection of Judge Gorsuch to serve a lifetime term on our nation’s highest court only further cements what we’ve witnessed over the first 12 days of his administration: that he doesn’t give a damn about upholding the Constitution.

“Judge Gorsuch has already led the attack on women’s reproductive health from the bench and would eagerly overturn Roe v. Wade if confirmed. He has an abysmal record on protecting citizens from police brutality and would seriously jeopardize bipartisan efforts toward criminal justice reform. He would similarly dismantle the gains we’ve made for LGBT Americans and serve as a reliable vote in favor of voter suppression on the high court.  In short, a Justice Gorsuch would discriminate against a majority of Americans from the bench. This alone is disqualifying.

“And just yesterday, Donald Trump demonstrated that what he’s most concerned with is putting in place sycophants who can’t be trusted to hold him accountable when he breaks the law and violates the Constitution. We should expect nothing less from his judicial nominees.

“Simply put, a Justice Gorsuch on the Supreme Court is intolerable and it’s up to Democrats to block his nomination.

“As I’ve said before, we need to afford Donald Trump the same level of cooperation Mitch McConnell afforded President Obama. That starts with making sure that Judge Gorsuch never sits on the Supreme Court.”

I haven’t seen any statements on Keith Ellison’s campaign and congressional websites or any of his social media accounts. This post will be updated if he issues a statement or makes a public comment.

DNC Candidates Join Airport Protest

HOUSTON – “Sign me up for the Resistance,” South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg told an auditorium full of Democratic Party insiders and activists on Saturday afternoon. Several hours later, he and three other candidates running for leadership positions in the Democratic National Committee were in the middle of a protest at George Bush Intercontinental Airport to protest the Trump administration’s executive order on immigration and refugee resettlement.

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DNC chair candidates Tom Perez, Pete Buttigieg and Jaime Harrison speak to protestors outside Terminal E at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. (Photo credit: David de Sola)

They joined a crowd of approximately one hundred people that had gathered outside Terminal E, the international arrivals terminal, joining similar protests that broke out at airports across the country.  As was the case at other protests, according to Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti, a group of local lawyers was present. They had gathered there to offer potential legal assistance to travelers who might be affected by the executive order. Though the crowd at Houston wasn’t as big as other airports, the city itself is the fourth biggest destination in the world for refugee resettlement, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Also on the scene were former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, as well as Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Maria Elena Durazo. Buttigieg, Perez and Harrison are candidates running to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Durazo is running for reelection to her current post.  All four were in Houston on Saturday for a regional forum sponsored by the DNC for candidates running for leadership positions ahead of the party’s election scheduled to take place at the end of February.

“I think it’s great that we have the organization and infrastructure, the activity and activism, and the heart and soul to stand up to what Donald Trump is doing,” Durazo said in an interview. “We have never seen this many protests, this many demonstrations in the numbers, in the consecutive days of activity, from Saturday the Women’s March, to Philadelphia, to tonight. It’s unfortunate that the reasons are Donald Trump is signing these executive orders and because he’s so hell-bent on violating our constitutional rights.”

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DNC Vice Chair Maria Elena Durazo speaks to protestors outside Terminal E at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. (Photo credit: David de Sola)

Tom Perez took advantage of his fluency in Spanish and addressed protestors and local media in both languages. “Somos los Estados Unidos, no somos los Estados Divididos.” We are the United States, not the Divided States. It is worth noting one dynamic from the election which probably played a part in Saturday’s protests: the urban-rural split between liberals and conservatives. Because liberals tend to concentrate in large cities, many of which have international airports, that is probably one reason why these protests were able to organize and mobilize so quickly, even in a historically conservative state like Texas.

“We knew this would be a day of reckoning when Donald Trump assumed the Oval Office,” he told protestors. “We didn’t know it would come this fast. Lady Liberty has taken a few body punches, but the American people will fight back.”

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Photo credit: David de Sola

Harrison cited the famous quote by Pastor Martin Niemöller, as well as a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham City Jail: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the actions and words of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

“We are that shining beacon on a hill,” Harrison said during an interview. “We will get back to that point once [Donald Trump] is no longer president.”

“Resistance is not futile, resistance is necessary. We cannot allow this man to destroy this great nation, to destroy the reputation that it’s had for generations.”

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Pete Buttigieg and Jaime Harrison join the crowds protesting the Trump administration’s executive order. (Photo credit: David de Sola)

Buttigieg, who at one point acted as an Arabic-English interpreter for a newly arrived family and the crowd gathered outside the terminal, said during an interview, “Every time there’s another outrage, there’s going to have to be another response.”

“We have to make sure it’s not just reactive to what they do. We got to make sure that we’re building a proactive agenda around freedom, around fairness, around protecting families, and around our future.”

DNC Forum Houston Liveblog Chairman Candidates

Here’s the field for the second DNC forum. Note that this will be the first appearance by the last four names at the bottom of the list.

Sally Boynton Brown, Idaho
Raymond Buckley, New Hampshire
Pete Buttigieg, Indiana
Keith Ellison, Minnesota
Jehmu Greene, Texas
Jaime Harrison, South Carolina
Honorable Tom Perez, Maryland
Peter Peckarsky, Wisconsin
Sam Ronan, Ohio
Vincent Tolliver, Georgia
Robert Vinson Brannum, Washington, D.C.

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Six Out of Seven DNC Chair Candidates Skip Women’s March

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman pointed out:

According to the Free Beacon, six out of the seven candidates running for chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee were in Florida last Saturday during a retreat of major Democratic donors organized by David Brock. The one exception: South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg:

Brock’s retreat was planned independently of the Women’s March which took place the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. If any of them had known that march was going to be as big of an event as it was, they all probably would have gone to the nearest local march. This also raises the issue about the party’s relationship with donors and big money, a question which came up during the first DNC regional forum in Phoenix as well as interviews with the different candidates running for the job.  One question to watch in Houston this weekend will be whether Buttigieg uses this issue to distinguish himself from the rest of the candidates.

One other point worth mentioning about the Women’s March: George W. Bush had to start a war two years into his presidency to get that kind of global opposition and protest against him.  Donald Trump accomplished it on the second day of his presidency.

Huffington Post DNC Chair Debate Liveblog

The seven DNC candidates are participating in a debate organized by the Huffington Post hosted at George Washington University being streamed live online.  Read the live blog below the break…

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DNC Chair Candidates Forum Liveblog

Per luck of the draw backstage, each candidate gets two minutes for opening remarks. Tom Perez goes first:

  • “I feel like Lou Gehrig… the luckiest person on the face of the Earth.”
  • Perez gets huge applause for mentioning his fight in DOJ against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
  • “We need a turnaround artist.”

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NARAL President Won’t Run for DNC Chair

NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue has decided not to run for DNC chair, according to a scoop from Politico, which obtained the email she sent out to DNC members this morning informing them of her decision:

“I wanted to formally write and tell you I will not be seeking election for DNC Chair. I so deeply appreciate those of you who have spent time with me discussing this prospect and explained to me what you are looking for in a leader and I so deeply appreciate your willingness to serve our party at this critical moment,” Hogue wrote in the email, obtained by POLITICO. “I am happy that the field of candidates reflects so many capable people and different perspectives within the party and I look forward to continuing to work alongside all of you to make our party and our values grow strength in the coming years.”

The story also notes that Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is also considering a run for DNC chair.