We’ll be posting analyses and opinions from campus Dems on this weekend’s DNC race throughout the week. Our first post is from incoming secretary Ridgley Knapp:
Two weeks ago, there were seven major and two minor (sorry guys) candidates to be Chair of the DNC. The early frontrunner, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), was seemingly deadlocked with Obama Secretary of Labor Tom Perez (D-MD). Ellison had the endorsement of Senators Sanders, Warren, and Schumer while Perez had the endorsement of former Vice President Biden and a grabbag of Democratic governors. Also in the running were New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director Sally Boynton Brown, former Rock the Vote president Jehmu Greene, and activists Peter Peckarsky and Sam Ronan.
The first major shake-up of the race came on Feb 18, when Buckley, a veteran Democratic operative and President of the Association of State Democratic Party Chairs, dropped out of the race and endorsed Ellison. “If Ellison wins the vote in Atlanta next week, Buckley … is expected to play a large role in helping lead the state parties’ operations,” wrote Politico of Buckley’s move.
Not to be outdone, on Feb 25, Jaime Harrison dropped out of the race and endorsed Perez. Harrison, who various surveys of DNC members indicated would come a distant third with twenty or so votes, probably made the difference. Watch him for a promotion. Pete Buttigieg (my favored candidate) was the final candidate to withdraw before balloting commenced. In the past week, he had announced endorsements from 4 former DNC Chairs including Gov. Howard Dean; however, he did not have nearly enough influence among current voting members. His concession speech is worth a watch, and his concession was probably the wisest decision. Blake Hounshell, editor-in-chief of Politico, called Mayor Pete’s move “smart – [he] goes out like a rising star instead of a dude who got three votes”. Unlike Buckley and Harrison, Buttigieg did not endorse a candidate, despite rumors circulated by the Ellison campaign that he endorsed the Minnesotan.
Paper ballots were passed around, and filled out by the voting members. Of the 447 eligible, only 427 voted in the first round, 435 in the second. Democrats can’t even turn out to their own convention. A candidate needed 50 percent + 1 of the voting membership to be elected. When all the ballots were counted, Perez was ahead- he had 213.5 votes, exactly 50 percent. Ellison had 200. Sally Boynton Brown came a distant third, with 12 votes, Mayor Pete got 1 vote despite having dropped out, and Jehmu Greene got ½ a vote. Two ballots were left blank, and no one took pity on poor Ronan or Peckarsky. There was one abstention. All candidates but Ellison and Perez withdrew their names from contention, and on the second ballot, Perez won the chairmanship with 235 votes to Ellison’s 200. Many Ellison supporters, former supporters of Senator Sanders’ presidential bid, are displeased at the result of the election, but Perez’s progressive credentials are still worthy of note. We at UC Dems look forward to seeing how the DNC will adapt under its new leadership and look forward to working with them in any way necessary.