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.”

Continue reading “DNC Chair Candidates Forum Liveblog”

DNC Chair Candidates Meet in Texas

The Texas Democratic Party held its quarterly meeting of the State Democratic Executive Committee in Austin yesterday, and invited the candidates for DNC chairman to address the organization.  I was traveling all day so I was not able to monitor it and live-blog or tweet it like the Ohio event a few days earlier, but TDP uploaded the video of the event to Facebook.  I should point out that this is Sally Boynton Brown’s first event since declaring her candidacy 24 hours earlier, so this is the first time Democrats are hearing from her directly. Here are a few real-time tweets from people who were there:

 

UPDATE: Texas State Democratic Executive Committee member Josh Greene sent the link to this edited video of the five candidates’ speeches that has been uploaded to YouTube.

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.

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.

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.

DNC Forum Live Blog

The DNC Forum organized by the Ohio Democratic Party is about to begin. Watch this space for highlights.

All times are Pacific Standard Time

1:00 – Opening statements.  Up first is New York Assemblyman Michael Blake, who announced his candidacy for Vice-Chair yesterday.  He noted that one third of all House Democrats come from three states, and party only has seven Secretaries of State across the country.

1:05 – Ray Buckley starts his opening comments. He is participating via Skype because of conflicting commitment with the New Hampshire Democratic Party today.  Buckley notes NHDP has all Democrat, all female congressional delegation for the first time in history, have similar electorate to many Midwestern states Hillary Clinton lost.

1:10 – Jaime Harrison begins his opening comments.
“We’ve lost our way. We’ve allowed our party to deteriorate.”
“33/50 governorships controlled by Republicans, 69/99 state houses controlled by Republicans, but we only obsess about the White House.” Harrison praises Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy from 2005-2009, notes that he had to fight with Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer (then-DCCC and DSCC chairs)
“It’s about building trust again in our communities with our party.”
Harrison gets a laugh from the crowd with a House of Cards reference.

1:24 – Keith Ellison begins his opening comments. Compares his day to the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
Ellison points out that his congressional district went from having the lowest turnout in Minnesota when he was elected in 2006 to having the highest turnout now.
“We went from a squeaker for Al Franken to a blowout. We went from a squeaker for Mark Dayton to a blowout.”
Ellison acknowledges the need for a fulltime DNC Chair. Closes his opening comments with: “If you elect me, get ready to work.” #DNCForum

Q&A Begins

Q: Ellison – will you eliminate the superdelegate system?
KE: Listen to the Unity Commission. Superdelegates must follow the will of voters of their state.  You want them to be involved but you want them to represent will of the voters.  JH: Let the Unity Commission work. Agrees with KE
MB: Agree on commission, take to the next step. There needs to be changes. Think on other side, if there had been a superdelegate process, probably less likelihood of a Trump nomination.  Let’s figure out how to improve the process first rather than dramatically change it.
RB: Yes, I believe state vote at convention must reflect what vote was in primary or caucus. Last 8 years, been member of Rules and Bylaws – worked on this issue unsuccessfully.  One of the reforms on how we do business at DNC that allow people out there to trust the DNC once again.

Q: Steps to recruit candidates at state and local offices.
JH: Starts with state parties.  Some only have $50K in cash, have elections in 2 years.  25 of 33 Senate seats up in 2018 are Dems, 10 of them in states like Montana, Ohio, etc. that went for Trump.
When I became SC chair, I thought hardest part of my job would be raising money. The hardest part of the job is finding good candidates. I decided to create something to recruit and train good candidates – James Clyburn political fellowship.

Q: Ideas to keep rural Democrats competitive and feeling welcome in the party?
KE: I’m from DFL – Democratic Farm and Labor Party.  Go to rural communities, speak to them on how rural values are important to our Democratic values.  Respect individuality and personal choices.  Show up, be there. Also critical in rural America that money from DNC to rural communities has to be there.  Talking to people in WV – they don’t even have a state party office.  Go do strong listening sessions all over the country. Have to believe we can win in rural communities.
Indebted to Howard Dean for 50-state strategy, but we need a 3,141-county strategy.

Q: How do you plan to thwart right wing propaganda machine?
RB: In NH 2014, Koch brothers invested heavily here.  We reelected our governor, outspent 2-1. There’s nothing more powerful than one neighbor talking to another neighbor. Donald Trump going to be using Twitter feed, celebrity. He has no relationship to honesty when it comes to talking about issues or policies.  We can send all the mail we want, all the TV ads.  Reestablish state parties… have a permanent HQ in every congressional district across the country.  Have offices out there, so people can utilize them, year in year out.  Have to find new innovative ways of communicating.  TV ads not working, more mail isn’t working.  Get down to neighbors talking to neighbors.  NH said hell no when Brooklyn said they would do GOTV based on analytics.

Q:
MB: Make sure both campaigns sharing the data – doesn’t happen often enough.  Look at our track record. All I’ve done over 11 years is how to build organization.  We can’t just win on Election Day and leave.  Too often what we do is change staff all the time.  There are 219 counties that Obama won twice that Trump won. Counties made decision twice to elect/re-elect Obama with 50-60 percent approval.  This will be leadership not just for 2018 midterms, this will be leadership for 2020.

Q: Everyone running agree states should get data immediately?
All candidates raise their hands.

Q: How are you going to unite Democratic Party?
JH: When I was floor director in 2006, one of most diverse caucuses. 15-seat majority.  Difficult when you have issues ranging from hate crimes legislation to withdrawing from Iraq, Lilly Ledbetter. All Democrats for that… Not necessarily.  One of strengths we have as party is diversity, but sometimes comes with great challenges.
One thing I learned from Clyburn – go to people, respect them, and feel that you respect them and appreciate them, it’s amazing how far you can come and how united you can be.
It wasn’t easy. Didn’t think we would pass Matthew Sheppard bill. You have to make it real for people, have to show them, not tell them.  We passed the legislation overwhelmingly.  If you listen to people and understand, you can bring people to do that.  I’ve done that, had a united party going into the convention.

MB: We have to listen and make changes.  Have to appreciate that yes, we had very intense primary which I think was good.  8 years ago, we also had an intense primary.  Irony is I went from Iowa to South Carolina to Minnesota.  One thing we have to learn from this, are we going to make concrete changes so everyone feels they’re in power? I represent most diverse county in America.  Don’t talk about BLM and then be silent on DAPL.
I want you not just to have seat at the table, want to ensure that you have a seat and you have power at that table. Have to recognize we overcome many things.
It took 9 years for Civil Rights to happen.  This is moment for us to build. Has to be moment for us to unite. We have to be Democrats right now, because on other side you have someone doing everything possible to disrespect us as a people.
We want to go around the country to we can build together.  Cant just sit around and hope somebody will show up.  Cannot assume somebody going to vote for you when you haven’t talked to them in a year and a half.

KE: I started as a Bernie Sanders supporter. I told Bernie supporters I’ve carried bills with Hillary. After primary, I hit 7 states for Hillary Clinton.  I was in Ohio, NC, Florida, campaigning for Hillary because I believed in her candidacy.
We cannot form circular firing squad. We must unify and need the talents of every single person to do it.
Unity is something everybody is for, but achieving it is much harder.
Unity is listening, unity is talking. We can all unite around a real infrastructure plan because that puts workers to work and gives us a green economy.
There is a reason why I get elected with 70 percent of the vote. It’s not because district is very liberal. It’s because we work together to reach level of understanding.
When we fall out, I will be the chair in the room to nail us all back together.

RB: I was state party chair in 2008 and 2016. I went to ballot commission to defend Bernie’s right to be on the ballot.  When he went to file, I escorted him into the Secretary of State’s office. I did that not because I favored Bernie, but because it was fair thing to do.
2018 going to be critical election, need to make sure everyone is involved. Everyone has a place at the table.

UPDATE: The Ohio Democratic Party has posted the full video of the forum online. You can watch it here.

DNC Chairman Election Calendar Revealed

Mark your calendars: Patrice Taylor – the Democratic National Committee’s Director of Party Affairs & Delegate Selection – has announced the timetable and process by which the next DNC chair will be selected. You can read her full Medium post here.

First, as announced in Denver last week there will be four regional forums for the DNC chairman candidates to address Democrats directly scheduled for January and February.

  • January 13-14: Phoenix, AZ
  • January 27-28: Houston, TX
  • February 3-4: Detroit, MI
  • February 10-11: Baltimore, MD

The next DNC chairman and officers will be elected during the DNC winter meeting, scheduled to take place in Atlanta from February 23-26.

 

New Hampshire Congressional Delegation Endorses Ray Buckley

The Granite State’s congressional delegation issued a joint statement endorsing New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The statement, posted on the Facebook page of the Ray Buckley for DNC Chairman group, reads in part:

We write to you as the first all-female, all-Democratic Congressional delegation in our country’s history to urge you to support Ray Buckley as the next chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Each of us survived Republican tides that swept across the country this year and in 2014 in no small part because of the strong state and local Democratic Party organizations in New Hampshire. As the chair of the NH Democratic Committee for the last ten years and vice-chair for the preceding eight years, Ray Buckley led the effort to build the state Democratic Party into the effective grassroots operation it is today.
Ray has the vision, energy and commitment to reform the DNC and utilize it to reinvigorate state and local parties across the country.
Beyond the state’s congressional delegation, Union Leader political reporter Dan Tuohy also noted, “DNC members from NH also cheering Buckley on.”

Ray Buckley Promises “Radical Reform” If Elected DNC Chairman

New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley did an interview with my friend/former colleague Paul Steinhauser of NH1 News.

Here are some of the key quotes:

Continue reading “Ray Buckley Promises “Radical Reform” If Elected DNC Chairman”

DNC Chairman Candidates and Democratic Senator Respond to DAPL Decision

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.”