Howard Dean Drops Out of DNC Chairman Race

Governor Howard Dean (D-Vt.) released this video for the Association of State Democratic Chairs meeting happening in Denver this weekend.

In addition to announcing his withdrawal from the race, he did not endorse another candidate and encouraged that whoever gets elected to the post take the job as a full-time position – a seeming reference to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) who is a sitting member of Congress.  Based on the number of endorsements he has accumulated, Ellison remains the front-runner in the race, but that doesn’t mean anything at this point. The winner has to receive the votes of at least 224 out of the 447 voting members of the Democratic National Committee.

Dean’s withdrawal leaves three confirmed candidates in the race (Ellison, New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley, and South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison) which creates some interesting dynamics.

  • Two of the candidates (Ellison and Harrison) are African American. The other (Buckley) is white and openly gay. All three represent constituencies in the Democratic coalition.
  • Two of the candidates (Buckley and Harrison) represent the second and third states in the existing order of the presidential primaries. In both their cases it would raise legitimate questions about whether or not they would be willing to reform or significantly alter the primary calendar and nominating process, lest their home state lose power and influence over the process.
  • Two of the candidates (Buckley and Ellison) are over the age of 50.  Harrison is in his early 40s. This could create a generational divide in terms of outlook for the party’s future, priorities, values, etc. Harrison has said that if he is elected chairman, he will create a Vice Chair position to be filled by someone under the age of 35. Given that Hillary Clinton underperformed with millennials in the recent election, Harrison’s youth could be an asset.
  • Each of them come from states with different political leanings. Ellison represents an urban district in a solidly blue state (Minnesota). Buckley leads the party in a swing state with a track record of voting for both parties in federal, state, and local races (New Hampshire). Harrison leads the party in a solidly red state where Democrats have not been very successful in recent years (South Carolina).
  • Two of the candidates (Buckley and Ellison) come from states with predominantly white populations. Only Harrison comes from a state with a significant minority population – African Americans account for nearly 28 percent of South Carolina’s population according to the most recent census data. Ellison comes from and represents the Upper Midwest – the region of the country that determined the election. This could be an asset for him in making his argument.
  • All three candidates come from small states population-wise, according to the most recent census data. (Minnesota – 5.5 million, 10 electoral votes; South Carolina – 4.9 million, 9 electoral votes; New Hampshire – 1.3 million, 4 electoral votes)
  • Two of the candidates (Buckley and Harrison) are sitting state party chairmen. If either of them were elected, he would be a full-time DNC chairman.  Of those two, Buckley and his state party produced the best results in the recent election, delivering New Hampshire for the presidential and Senate races.  Ellison said he might be open to leaving his congressional seat to do the DNC chairman job full-time. The fact that Buckley and Harrison have had to run their state parties and have lived and operated outside of Washington D.C. could be an asset in making their case for why they can best lead and reform the party, as opposed to a sitting member of Congress who has lived and worked in the capital for years. The party’s recent experience with Debbie Wasserman Schultz could also make it averse to choosing another member of Congress as DNC chairman.

There is still the possibility of other candidates jumping in the race, particularly Ilyse Hogue (president of NARAL Pro-Choice America) and Stephanie Schriock (president of Emily’s List).

Rust Belt Democrats Want to Meet With DNC Chair Candidates in December

Here’s a good scoop from Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti:

Top Democratic officials in four Rust Belt states that voted for Donald Trump earlier this month have invited the candidates for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship to formally share their thoughts on how the party can compete there at a meeting next month.

A letter obtained by POLITICO and circulated by officials with the Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania Democratic parties on Tuesday evening invites the candidates to the Ohio group’s executive committee meeting on Dec. 10.

“As Chairs and Vice Chairs of states in the industrial Midwest — traditional bellwether or ‘red’ states — we are particularly concerned to hear the ideas and plans you and other candidates have to help us turn this critical region blue again. How will you continue to energize the coalition that has performed so well to elect Democrats at times, while also making inroads in the areas where President-Elect Trump did so well across our states? We are also eager to share our ideas,” the letter reads.

“Bottom line: We’d be honored to have you come to our region to hear directly from Democrats, present your plans and ideas, and engage our grassroots activists who are eager to be part of the conversation.”

If any of the candidates accept, the letter notes, the hosts will invite all DNC members to attend.

Hillary Clinton’s losses in this region were perhaps the most alarming development of the election for state and national Democrats. With the exception of Ohio and Indiana, Democrats had a lock on Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in presidential races since the 1980s. A combined margin of victory of approximately 107,000 votes in those three states secured the presidency for Donald Trump, despite a 2.36 million vote lead in the popular vote for Clinton as votes are still being counted.

Will be keeping an eye on the DNC candidates to see how they respond to this invitation. Any responses will be updated and added here.

Ray Buckley Makes It Official, Enters Race for DNC Chairman

New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman and DNC vice chair Ray Buckley has officially announced he is running to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The full text of his announcement (note that he is promising “radical reform of how the DNC operates”) has been posted on his Facebook page:

I’m in!

I am a candidate for Chair of the Democratic National Committee. I look forward to a robust discussion with you on the future of the Democratic Party and I ask for and hope to earn your support.

Make no mistake, if I am elected chair there will be radical reform of how the DNC operates. You and every member of the DNC will be called on to fully participate in the governance of our party. The DNC will be a team effort unlike what we have seen for many years. Every voice should be respected, every face reflected in the Democratic Party. The party cannot just be about winning the White House. We have thousands of other races, including state, county and local races, that we need to win as well.

To me, the Democratic Party’s message is simple: we firmly stand for the opportunity of every American to achieve the American dream. There should be no walls obstructing anyone’s success, both literally and figuratively. We are a dynamic, diverse party that represents the hopes and aspirations of millions of Americans. Our party must also continue to strive to include every voice and every idea from our grassroots.

I ask that you share with me your ideas – both big and small – for how the DNC can best do its job of helping to elect Democrats. Collectively we can be the change that is needed.

After we talk and you’ve had time to reflect, I hope you will decide to support me and together we can get to work reforming the DNC, strengthening our state parties, and rebuilding our grassroots nationwide.

I will be reaching out to you soon to discuss the future of our party, but please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Ray Buckley

According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, Buckley has already picked up a few endorsements:

  • Joanne Dowdell: DNC at-large member.
  • Martha Fuller Clark: First vice chair of NH Democratic Party, and state senator representing the 21st Senate district. She was also the first superdelegate to support Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention
  • Bill Shaheen: DNC committeeman from New Hampshire, husband of Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
  • Kathy Sullivan: DNC committeewoman from New Hampshire.

DNC Candidate Ray Buckley Hints at “Very Big Changes” to Superdelegate System

If you aren’t following New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley on Twitter, you should. Here are some recent tweets from today with his views on the DNC: