DNC Chairman Tom Perez is finally taking the axe to some long-time dead wood at the DNC, and of course nobody's happy about it. But the reality is that DNC Deputy Chair Keith Ellison lost the fight to lead the DNC, and that means Perez gets to call the shots. Now that Perez is finally doing that, people are pissed off.
A shake-up is underway at the Democratic National Committee as several key longtime officials have lost their posts, exposing a still-raw rift in the party and igniting anger among those in its progressive wing who see retaliation for their opposition to DNC Chairman Tom Perez.
The ousters come ahead of the DNC's first meeting, in Las Vegas, Nevada, since Perez took over as chairman with a pledge earlier this year that he would unite the party that had become badly divided during the brutal Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton 2016 primary.
Complaints began immediately after party officials saw a list of Perez' appointments to DNC committees and his roster of 75 "at-large" members, who are chosen by the chair.
The removal and demotion of a handful of veteran operatives stood out, as did what critics charge is the over-representation of Clinton-backed members on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, which helps set the terms for the party's presidential primary, though other Sanders and Ellison backers remain represented.
Those who have been pushed out include:
- Ray Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic chairman and longtime DNC official who ran against Perez for chair before backing Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., lost his spots on the Executive Committee and DNC Rules Committee;
- James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute and prominent Sanders backer, is no longer co-chair of the Resolutions Committee and is off the Executive Committee, a spot he has held since 2001;
- Alice Germond, the party’s longtime former secretary and a vocal Ellison backer, who was removed from her at-large appointment to the DNC; and
- Barbra Casbar Siperstein, the first transgender member of the DNC who supported Ellison and Buckley, was tossed from the Executive Committee.
The moves exposed a rift in the partnership between Perez and his deputy chair, Ellison, who have publicly broadcast their "bromance" since Perez tapped the lawmaker for the post in a show of unity after their hard-fought race earlier this year for the party's chairmanship.
"I’m concerned about the optics, and I’m concerned about the impact," Zogby said of the changes. "I want to heal the wound of 2016."
"I understand the chair can do as he pleases, but still, it's all just very disappointing," Buckley said.
Germond has been on the DNC since the 1980s.
"It is quite unusual for a former party officer who has been serving on the DNC for like forever to just be left out in the cold without even a call from the chairman," said Germond, who was a vocal Ellison backer for DNC chairman. "So I assumed it had something to do with myself support for Keith."
"I understand that I fought very hard for Keith Ellison. And I understand that to the winners go the spoils," she added.
Zogby in particular has been a pain in Perez's ass for a year now, but his consolation prize is he remains co-chair of the party's Unity and Reform Commission, so his damage can be limited. Backing a guy who's not even in the party means that maybe you shouldn't be in charge of said party's major committees, just saying.
Whether or not Perez can actually get anything done heading into 2018, we'll see. I didn't have high hopes for Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the previous DNC chair and she failed to meet even that low bar. Hopefully he won't have his won organization strangling him from behind when Trump and the GOP are trying to destroy 80 years of classic liberalism in the United States. I guess maybe that's too much to ask for.