Who Should Become the Next DNC Chair?

 /  Feb. 25, 2017, 10:45 a.m.


The Democratic National Committee is voting on its new chair this weekend. The incoming chair will replace Donna Brazile, who was selected as the interim-chair upon Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation in July 2016 following the WikiLeaks scandal. Candidates Pete Buttigieg, Jaime Harrison, Tom Perez, and Sam Ronan were interviewed by the Gate on-site at the third DNC Chair debate at the DNC Future Forum held in Detroit, Michigan on February 4th, while candidates Sally Boynton Brown, Ray Buckley, and Jehmu Greene were interviewed remotely. The Gate also interviewed DNC Vice Chair candidate Michael Blake in Detroit. Below, is a recap of each candidate’s vision for the DNC; learn more about these candidates before the vote this afternoon.


Sally Boynton Brown has served as the executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party since April 2012. Previously, Brown worked on several Idaho campaigns and served as the Idaho Democratic Party’s communications director.

“We can’t afford to lose a single person. We’ve got to figure out what we agree on, what our core values are, and how to all come around a shared vision to be able to push back, take our democracy, and build a twenty-first-century organization that is resilient and innovative at the DNC and in all of our state parties. I wasn’t hearing that...We can’t afford to lose focus on people because it’s the people who matter. We need to remind ourselves as a party that it all comes down to the individual. We can have data and we can have the polling—and we need to make decisions based on polling and data—but ultimately we’re in this business because we’re a party of the people. And we need to make sure that we’re in touch with people, talking to people, building relationships with people, and that we’re a community doing that.”

Read the full interview here.


Ray Buckley is the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, president of the Association of State Democratic Party Chairs, and vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee. Previously, he served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1986 to 2004.

It’s important to me that we fundamentally change the way the DNC operates. The DNC needs radical reform so that we can start winning elections again. Firstly, we need to reform the nominating process to make sure that the DNC neutrally and fairly supports every candidate running for president. Secondly, the DNC has to open up and be more transparent, and the members of the DNC should be involved in the governance of the building. Thirdly, I believe that the state parties have to be significantly strengthened. We have to return to the fifty-state strategy and build the local, grassroots organizations that will allow us to win elections.”

Read the full interview here.


Pete Buttigieg serves as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana Buttigieg was a Rhodes Scholar, served in the military, and has been called the potential first gay president. Prior to becoming mayor, Buttigieg worked at McKinsey & Company.

“The theme of our campaign has been “everybody needs a fresh start.” The answers aren’t going to come from Washington, so everybody’s saying that we’ve got to get back to the states and to local organizing. The case for me is that that’s what I do. I love to go fishing. I’m from the middle of the country. I’m from an area and a part of the electorate that we’ve had trouble connecting with...We’ve got to keep our eye on the ball here. The anti-Trump stuff writes itself, and that stuff, in many ways, is more obvious than making sure we have a positive agenda and making sure that we are weighting our agenda to what people care about most, which is their families, their kitchen table, and what’s happening to them.”

Read the full interview here.


Jehmu Greene is a FOX News political analyst, former director of women’s outreach and Southern political director for the DNC, and former president of Rock the Vote.

“I think we have a unique opportunity—and not only because we are living through an unprecedented political reality with the Trump administration—to look at our party and innovate how we communicate and connect with each other. This unique moment requires someone who is not a politician. It requires someone who is a strategist, an organizer, and a fierce messenger, and all of those things are unique to my resume compared to the other candidates…This moment that the party is facing needs someone who is very comfortable embracing innovation, embracing collaborative leadership, someone who understands that the millennial generation is not the future of our party—it is the present of our party. I am uniquely qualified for this position in ways that the rest of the field is not.”

Read the full interview here.


Jaime Harrison is the chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party. Previously, he worked as executive director of the House Democratic Caucus. Most recently, he worked as a principle at the Podesta Group.

“I believe I am unique in this race because not only do I understand Washington, DC, but for the past six years, I have been building the party on the grassroots level in South Carolina. There isn’t anybody else in this race that can say they have their feet in both worlds. For a number of years, I worked on Capitol Hill. I ran the whip operation for the House Democrats when we took the majority back. I was the executive director for the House Democratic Caucus. In South Carolina, I have been the chair for the past four years, and two years prior to that, I was the vice chair.”

Read the full interview here.


Tom Perez served as the US secretary of labor from 2013-2017. Previously, he served as Maryland’s secretary of labor, as the board president of Casa de Maryland, and as the assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s Division of Civil Rights.

“I think we need to galvanize this grassroots advocacy that’s out there. Turn that moment into a movement. There’s tremendous opportunity out there across America. I’ve been to a couple of airports in the last week, Houston and San Francisco, and the energy is palpable. And we need to channel that energy because right now there are some existential threats to our democracy and we need to make sure that as people engage in this they understand that the Democratic Party is not just a conspicuous presence but a conspicuous and positive force for change. That’s what we have to do and we got to do that by organizing, organizing, organizing. The process of culture change needs to begin immediately, day one. By sending a very clear signal to our state parties that you have a seat at the table.”

Read the full interview here.


Samuel Ronan is a 27 year old German immigrant and United States Air Force veteran; he promotes a motto of “American people first, politics second.”

“A lot of us are disenfranchised. A lot of us are angry. A lot of us don’t trust the party anymore. Not a single candidate has had the courage to speak up and against the way the DNC has been operating. For instance, the only people who can vote for the executive committee are the 470 DNC members themselves, which precludes the millions of Democrats, or would-be Democrats, in deciding their own future and their own fate within the party...Anybody can say that “I’m going to fight against Trump and fascism and the Republican party.” People are probably doing that already. It takes real leadership and real courage and conviction to stand up against your own team members. That’s what I bring to the table.”

Read the full interview here.

DNC Vice Chair Candidates Interviewed:  


Michael Blake is a member of the New York State Assembly. Blake held senior roles in both Obama presidential campaigns, serving as associate director of public engagement and as deputy associate director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

“We have a clear message of leadership for tomorrow, of building the bench, of getting more Democrats elected to win races. How do we strengthen the party by having a clear economic message and having surrogates in our states making sure we’re empowering people on the ground? How do we embrace our future, understanding that communities of color and women and millennials and LGBT and low-income whites don’t feel that we’re listening to them? What makes us stand apart? I am a city elected official who sees this every single day. I have won races over the last twelve years across the country. We need to think about who will be the faces and the voices of our party to rebuild the party and push back in the resistance against Trump. That is the reason why we are running. We want to help change the party for the better.”

Read the full interview here.

The image featured in this article is licensed under Creative Commons. The original image can be found here.

Asya Akca


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