Saturday, January 21, 2017

DNC Chair Candidate Forum Live Stream

When they meet on February 23–26, 2017, the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee will elect a new chair. They will signal whether or not the party will boldly begin to transform itself back into the party of New Deals and Great Societies sought by the new generation of Democrats. Those 400-plus voting members of the DNC must take stock of the need to strike a bold new direction to reverse the party's losses.

This group of DNC voting members is dominated by state party chairs and political appointees, and overlaps substantially with the super-delegates from the 2016 Democratic primary. Party insiders estimate that roughly two-thirds of the DNC members supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during that race.

Democrats lost another net 43 seats in legislatures across the country in 2016, after previously losing 910 seats during Obama's administration. Republicans added to their historic 2014 gains in the nation’s state legislatures with the addition of five state House chambers and two state Senate chambers in 2016.

Republicans are now in control of a record 67 (68 percent) of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers in the nation, more than twice the number (31) in which Democrats have a majority, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Republicans hold more total state legislative seats in the nation, well over 4,100 of the 7,383, than they have since 1920. Democrats now have total control of just 13 state legislatures.

Republicans gained 2 more states' governor-ships in 2016, after already gaining 12 over the last 8 years, increasing its total to 33, a record high last seen in 1922. Democrats had also lost 69 US House seats and 13 US Senate seats since 2009 and barely managed to stem further losses in 2016.

And Democrats face a more challenging election map in 2018 than they faced in 2016. Survival of the Democratic Party is literally on the line.

There are now seven declared candidates for the 2017 Democratic National Committee chairmanship election:
  • Sally Boynton Brown, Executive Director of the Idaho Democratic Party
  • Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party
  • Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
  • Keith Ellison, U.S. House of Representatives, Minnesota 5th District|
  • Jehmu Greene, Political Analyst
  • Jaime Harrison, Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party
  • Tom Perez, 26th United States Secretary of Labor
All seven DNC Chair candidates will participate in a panel discussion forum on the future of the Democratic Party on Monday, January 23 at 7 p.m. in Washington, DC at George Washington University, hosted by Democracy in Color. You can view the forum via live stream. (View Recorded Live Stream Video.)

Watch FB live stream video of the five candidates already running for DNC Chair address committee persons at the Texas State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) meeting on Saturday, December 17, 2016.

Click Here to watch Huffington Post's January 18th DNC candidate forum live stream video.

Guide to the Candidates (Information from candidates’ campaign websites.)

Sally Boynton Brown - Executive Director of the Idaho Democratic Party
MAIN MESSAGE: Our party can’t afford to spend the next two years having an ideological debate on whether we are liberals or moderates; everyone should feel welcome.

PROPOSAL 1: Rebuild purpose of Party:  The Party must become a service-based organization designed to meet the needs of its national institutions, 57-state Party organizations, its general membership, and every citizen who needs an advocate on her or his behalf.

PROPOSAL 2: Rebuild Party’s partnership with states: Build a strong infrastructure and provide resources (including a minimum of $15,000 a month) to all 57 state Parties to take back statehouses and achieve electoral success at every level of governance. Make Democrats Abroad, D.C. and 5 territories full partners with equity.

PROPOSAL 3: Rebuild Party’s culture: To change the Party’s culture, everyone in the Party should start looking deeply at her or his own actions, assumptions, and judgments. Create a “New American Majority Council” to help achieve true equity and multiplicity in every aspect of the Party. Require “Transforming White Privilege” courses for all members and leaders. Provide political job-training courses in New American Majority communities. Scout and recruit individuals in New American Majority communities with leadership qualities.

Keith Ellison - U.S. House of Representatives, Minnesota 5th District
MAIN MESSAGE: We must champion working families and give voters a reason to show up at the polls in 2018 and beyond.

PROPOSAL 1: Prioritizing a grassroots focus on voter turnout: Engage with progressive allies in party rebuilding. Study and disseminate best practices for effective field organizing to candidates on all levels. Resurrect DNC-led national training programs. Encourage local, state and federal candidates to set goals to boost turnout. . Protect against voter suppression and promote laws that encourage voter participation, including automatic voter registration, early voting and vote by mail.

PROPOSAL 2: Strengthen state and local parties: Increase State Partnership Project funding to a base of $10,000 per month, with additional funding available for state and local parties dedicated to building programs for core work. Develop an aggressive strategy to win back state legislatures and governors for 2020 redistricting. Provide DNC-sponsored candidate training programs to win local races, creating diverse qualified candidates ready to run for higher office.

PROPOSAL 3: Focus on working people: Ensure voters know Democrats stand for them. Have labor as a full partner, commit to using only 100% union hotels, venues and vendors when possible. Engage directly with working voters through round tables, listening sessions and direct voter contact in areas where Democrats under performed in 2016 compared to previous elections.

Tom Perez - 26th United States Secretary of Labor
MAIN MESSAGE: We need to listen to Democrats at every level.

PROPOSAL 1: Stand up for what we believe in: Protect civil rights and create a level playing field for all Americans. Fight voter suppression and disenfranchisement. Target gerrymandering by working to elect more Democratic state legislatures and governors. Stand up and lead efforts to stop policies that undermine the pillars of the middle class and make it harder for Americans to get a fair deal.

PROPOSAL 2: Grow from the grassroots: From organizing to fundraising, the Party’s values and messages must be driven from the ground up. Encourage and prioritize small-dollar fundraising. Increase the availability of surrogates to support state Party fundraisers.

PROPOSAL 3: Advocate in every zip code: Make sure Party’s message of inclusion and opportunity reaches every American. Foster year-round conversation with voters, driven by state parties. Ensure candidates will stand up for our values. Invest in state parties to help support candidates from school board to Senate. Build a deep bench of Democrats ready to run and provide national and regional candidate training.

Ray Buckley - Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party
MAIN MESSAGE: The DNC requires radical reform.

PROPOSAL 1: Reforming the Party’s structure: Every aspect of the Democratic Party’s structure should be reviewed and reformed, from the DNC itself to state parties and grassroots. Increase accountability from leadership and affiliated groups, and transparency around DNC finances and spending. The Party’s delegate selection process and convention proceedings should be examined and amended, as well as the presidential nomination process. The scheduling and criteria for the DNC-sponsored presidential debates and forums, and the DNC fundraising policy, should be removed from the DNC Chair’s sole prerogative.

PROPOSAL 2: Strengthening state parties: As part of a “15-point plan”: DNC should provide a guaranteed base of $10,000 per month to every state party and assign a DNC staff person to serve as the organizer and point of contact for the five territories. The Party should also provide “State Party Partnership Victory Grants”, up to $15,000 per month for state specific projects or programs, which could be renewed on an annual basis. Increase staff development and improve recruitment and retention of Executive Directors.

PROPOSAL 3: Increase voter engagement: Build community-based voter engagement programs year-round.

Jehmu Greene - Political Analyst
MAIN MESSAGE: The Party needs to be a constant presence in communities across America, not just a force that descends every few years at election time.

PROPOSAL 1: Engage, prioritize and invest in local communities and strategic states: Prioritize ongoing, sustained investment in, and engagement of, local communities in order to have conversations beyond the two-year election cycle. Be a partner to local party leaders. Seek out and elevate the best practices from the local level.Make significant investments in states where our base is rapidly growing, even if the electoral payoff is not immediate.

PROPOSAL 2: Develop and support candidates: Develop a robust, diverse pipeline of candidates eager to advance our principles, and support them when they run. Commit resources to building a grassroots army of diverse volunteers, trainers, staff and candidates. Build a leadership team comprised of the most thoughtful, compassionate, locally-focused group of people around.

PROPOSAL 3: Reach out to young eligible voters:Communicate better with the young people who share our values and yet are not showing up to vote because they feel left out of the process in order to build an inclusive membership base.

Pete Buttigieg - Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
MAIN MESSAGE: The DNC needs new leadership to deliver a fresh start.

PROPOSAL 1: Put Democratic values first: The Democratic Party must do what it does best: put forward a compelling economic message that resonates with all working- and middle-class families. Ensure that every citizen knows that this Party is the party of freedom, fairness, families, and the future. Bring our message to all voters.

PROPOSAL 2: Put focus back on states: The DNC should not only fund but also authentically partner with and fully respect the needs of the state and local parties. This includes: state-by-state long term planning; encouraging more flexible models for funding the states; connecting local resources to national needs, and vice versa; a comprehensive DNC fundraising audit to create an evidence-based future plan; top-level cyber-security capabilities; robust partnerships with Democratic organizations; round-tables with stakeholders cultivating emerging leaders and reinforcing the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute and Voter Expansion Project.

PROPOSAL 3: Build the Party from the bottom up: Align regional desks more closely with the regions they serve. Increase frequency of how often DNC members convene and engage with one another. Create a Local Surrogates Program to engage mayors and other local officials to help with media.

Jaime Harrison - Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party
MAIN MESSAGE: All voters must know that they matter to us.

PROPOSAL 1: Invest in our state parties: The DNC should provide resources so that state parties have professional and specialized operations and capabilities on a permanent basis. Afford state parties the ability to share their message in a timely and compelling manner through television, radio, and digital ads; social media outreach, and any other support required, by increasing State Partnership Program funding to $12k/mo (and easing restrictions on how that money is spent) and providing in-kind services. Empower regional Caucuses through joint fundraising and candidate support efforts and ensure Caucuses have dedicated funds to support local candidates and efforts.

PROPOSAL 2: Groom and build a deep bench of Democratic leaders: The DNC must develop programs nationwide to groom candidates who can speak to the concerns of their constituents. The Party must cultivate and encourage the right candidates, who may not yet think of themselves as potential candidates, train and prepare them to run for office, manage campaigns, and lead local parties.

PROPOSAL 3: Develop next generation of leaders: Give young people a seat at the decision table by creating a Vice Chair position for those 35 and younger.
The eighth person to enter the DNC chair race, Samuel Ronan, introduced himself to the DNC membership who will election their next chairperson with the following letter:

I would like to formally introduce myself as the DNC Chair Candidate with the vision we need to succeed as a Party. My name is Samuel Ronan. I am a veteran, a Millennial, and most importantly a concerned citizen. I have watched our party’s slow decline to ignominy from the sidelines and from within. I bring a unique perspective to this race that will mend the broken bridges between ourselves and those that view the party as “elitist” or “establishment”. The problems we face are: our perceived integrity and how we treat our own members.

How do we overcome such a lofty barrier? How can we show the country and would be Democratic voters that we have changed and truly embody the “Party of the People” principles? My strategies will highlight how we can move forward.

First we have to address our lack of credibility among Berniecrats and Millennials who feel they have been ignored or worse taken advantage of. Many of those voters feel that the Primaries were rigged against their candidate. However they are only partially correct. The primaries themselves weren’t rigged it was the processes. I speak from personal experience on that front. I ran for State Representative in Warren County Ohio. Many of you may be aware that Warren County is one of the most Republican counties in the country let alone Ohio. As such the likelihood of success was slim to begin with.

Despite the uphill struggle of the campaign I still pursued the candidacy because I firmly believed with the support of the party, and the hard work I put into the campaign I could prevail. Unfortunately our rural presence, not just in Warren County, but all across the country is so very weak that any effort as a Democrat is met with derision or retribution. It is because we don’t have a strong enough presence, but also because we do not have the trust of these communities we continue to lose. We haven’t proven our worth to those citizens, nor have we invested in the infrastructure necessary to get our voices or candidates heard!

I struggled to reach out to local media, I struggled to raise funds, and it took many face to face interactions and grueling hours of knocking on doors just to make a few connections where I wasn’t immediately rushed from their doorsteps. The thing is we can win in rural America but we need to show them who we are and what we are trying to do! Every time I was given a chance to talk about the changes I wanted to bring to the General Assembly people were in agreement and even showed support! We have to build on that fact! That is how we build a system within our party that empowers candidates instead of creating a system where only the chosen, or most loyal can succeed!

We need to centralize our efforts, and consolidate our resources at the local level not the state or national levels. If we implemented an Overall Campaign manager, Communications Director, and treasurer for all of the candidates we would save time, resources and manpower that could be diverted to getting the candidates in front of the populace! If we focused our strategies to be “one team one fight” we could run group campaigns that prove solidarity and show a commitment to community.

Secondly we need to open our doors to the general public, and encourage new members to participate in the party. The reason so many people think the Democratic Party is a party of elitists and cronies is because we have for so long emphasized party loyalty over taking care of our base. If we were to instead create a culture of mentorship where those driven and passionate millennials or first time voters could have a place at the table, or a voice in the process, they would not only feel like they are welcomed or wanted, but they would be making a difference by investing themselves in the party!

So far no other candidates have been willing to talk about the root causes of our problems and that is a sure sign that their leadership would only bring us right back to where we are now, or worse that our fragmented party would crumble completely. Make no mistake that whosoever leads the DNC from this point forward determines the fate of the entire nation. If we select the wrong DNC Chair we will fall from a 2 party system to a 1 party system ruled by the GOP with Trump at the helm. If the past few weeks are any indication, we as a country can ill afford the despicable leadership of the Trump Administration and maintain our status as the land of the free!

So I beseech you when deciding the fate of a nation, guiding the destiny of millions of Democratic and would-be Democratic voters to consider not just the next 4 years but the next 4 generations of Americans. The choices you make and the decisions of the DNC Chairman will resonate throughout our nation’s history and will define whether or not we as a society can pass this most difficult of tests! Can we overcome corruption, and discrimination of the highest degree, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Hitler’s rise to power? Can we unite as a nation and in one solid voice reject intolerance, discrimination, and hate? Or will we succumb to the fear mongering and divisiveness that has plagued our nation’s politics for so long?

That is what you will be deciding in Atlanta when you cast your vote. I hope that you make the right decision, a decision that will see a fractured party whole again with a leader that has the vision for a future that will bring us all together and overcome this, our nation’s darkest hour.

Together we can and we will make a difference!

Samuel Ronan
DNC Chair Candidate - OH

Within the context of the DNC chair race, ambitious conversations are taking place among grassroots activists and left-leaning intellectuals about the future of the Democratic Party. Op-ed pages and Twitter feeds are flooded with fights over the relative weight Democrats should attach to identity politics and economic policy. For many activists, this has become an emotionally charged struggle, although few on either side actually want to abandon the other’s policy priorities. In many ways, the back-and-forth functions as a re-litigation of the 2016 primary.

Most party operatives believe the race comes down to Keith Ellison and Tom Perez, expecting the other five candidates to drop out before Feb. 25th. Where the early supporters of those five go could well determine the outcome of the election.

DNC Future Forums are four full-day affairs in different cities around the U.S. with presentations, success stories, and looking ahead to opportunities on the horizon, plus feature forums for DNC Chair candidates, Vice Chair candidates, and Treasurer, Finance Chair, and Secretary candidates. The following forum was recorded in Houston, Texas on Saturday, January 28 at Texas Southern University Sawyer Auditorium. The DNC Chair candidates' forum starts at time index 6 hours 34 minutes.

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