Obama-Sanders Split Exposed in DNC Chairman Race

The New York Times has a good writeup on the behind-the-scenes dynamics happening in the race to lead the Democratic National Committee. Officially, the Obama administration is staying neutral in the race, but the White House is quietly looking for an alternative to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who has accumulated the most endorsements so far in the race. At issue, according to the report: “Elevating Mr. Ellison would amount to handing the party to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mrs. Clinton’s primary race opponent, and his liberal followers.”

The concerns with Ellison are his inability to do the DNC job full-time as a sitting member of the House of Representatives, as well as his previous criticism of Obama and his previous praise of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. (Aides had agreed to make Ellison available for an interview to the NYT for this story until they were told he would be asked about Farrakhan.)

Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm and Labor Secretary Tom Perez are said to be viewed favorably as candidates by the administration. Granholm had already publicly taken herself out of the running several days ago, but it’s not clear if the administration has lobbied or spoken with her since those comments. Perez’s post-administration plans are not yet known. He may throw his hat in the ring for the DNC chairmanship or he may bide his time and run for governor of Maryland in 2018.

UPDATE: I should note that while Ellison is the presumptive frontrunner in the race right now because of the number of endorsements he has picked up and the political muscle behind them (Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, etc.), those endorsements won’t mean anything when it comes down to the actual vote. According to NBC News, “The election won’t be held until late February during a meeting in Atlanta, and the only votes that matter are those of the several hundred members of the Democratic National Committee.”

Potential DNC Chairman Candidates Withdraw from the Race

According to NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) have withdrawn from consideration for the DNC chairman election.

Two names from the Obama administration have also surfaced: Vice President Joe Biden (who, according to a spokesman, declined interest in the position) and outgoing Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Keep in mind Perez was considered as a potential running mate by Hillary Clinton earlier this year, and NBC News also points out that he may opt to bide his time and run for governor of Maryland in 2018 against incumbent Republican Larry Hogan.

As of this morning, the candidates who are in the race or have expressed interest are:

  • NH Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley
  • Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.)
  • Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)
  • SC Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue