WASHINGTON — Democrats say the contentious primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders has spilled over into their Democratic National Committee chair election, as well as their candidate recruitment strategy for the 2018 midterms.
The DNC’s 447 voting members will gather together in Atlanta on Feb. 25 to elect the next chair, vice chairs and other senior-positions.
“The outcome of this election will either be the end of Clintonism or the beginning of a Democratic Party shifting immediately out of the center to the left towards Sanders and [Keith] Ellison. Establishment versus rebellion,” long-time Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf told The Daily Caller in an e-mail statement.
Ten candidates are running for party chairman, expected to be elected this month, and liberal progressives who backed Sanders appear to support Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, while former Obama Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has the support of those who supported Clinton, as well as allies of former President Barack Obama. Perez received the endorsement of Vice President Joe Biden in early February.
During a rally for Ellison, Huffington Post reported, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, a supporter of Sanders and now Ellison for DNC chair, stated, “All these good people in this room ― we know a good brother when we see him, we know a good leader when we see him. We tried to tell y’all before what a good leader looks like,” suggesting that Democrats made a mistake by nominating Clinton.
Democrats find themselves wandering without a leader since the 2016 election loss and are still attempting to agree on a correct strategy for success in a future election cycle.
Previously led by then-Democratic National Campaign Committee chairman Rahm Emanuel, the House 2006 win for Democrats only lasted until the 2010 election cycle, but the progressive wing of the party does not seem interested in talking about deploying the strategy that won them the House to begin with. That strategy involved running and recruiting centrist Democrats to run in Republican leaning districts.
Liberal Chicago media outlet, the Chicago Reporter, responded to Emanuel’s assertion that the party needed to take a “chill pill” and stop giving “moral victory” speeches that lost them elections and stated that the biggest “problem” with his 2006 recruitment strategy was that the candidates were “pro-war, pro-guns, anti-abortion and anti-immigrant.”
“That’s pretty much the opposite of the values of millions of citizens who have taken to the streets in recent weeks, and who are determined to turn around the Democratic Party. If the party is to have a future, they are it. Nor are they the ‘hard left,’ as some media types cast them. They are the American center, appalled at what’s happening to our country under Trump,” Chicago Reporter’s opinion writer Curtis Black contended.
When asked by the Daily Caller if the DCCC had been consulting with Emanuel over the 2018 strategy, New Mexico Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Luján, DCCC chairman, confirmed the organization had not been talking with their former chair. Nevertheless, Lujan said the DCCC is in the midst of an aggressive candidate recruitment effort to find individuals in rural districts Republican districts to run against the incumbents.
Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings would only say he had “no time to chill” and that “life is too short” to do so.
Base liberal groups also expressed alarm over the invitation to a speaker from the moderate tank, Third Way, to the party’s annual retreat in Baltimore last week. During the presentation to Democratic members by a Third Way vice president, a number of House liberal members reportedly got up and left the room.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi disputed to reporters in Baltimore there was any walkout she noticed. Despite the angry fervor against their ideas, moderate Democrats believe there should be a voice for their faction in the party.
“I’ve seen a majority, and a majority looks like people who have very different backgrounds, who use different language, who emphasize different things,” Connecticut Democratic Rep. Jim Himes, chairman of the New Democrat Coalition, told reporters. “We better be pretty open-minded about doing everything we can to get bigger and more diverse rather than smaller and more orthodox.”