Following Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential election loss to Republican Donald Trump, the Democratic National Committee, or DNC, began some serious soul-searching.
The group in charge of the party’s platform required “a complete restructuring” and “cannot continue as it is as if nothing occurred,” co-chair of the Progressive Caucus and Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., told NBC News on Friday.
Part of that restructuring will involve the DNC’s new leadership. This past July, alleged email correspondence posted online by WikiLeaks revealed collusion to limit the Democratic primary campaign success of Clinton’s opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Facing mounting pressure from party leaders, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped aside after serving for three years.
It is currently under the interim leadership of Donna Brazile, an author and former Al Gore campaign manager, who does not intend to run for a full term in March. Brazile, a CNN commentator before taking on the interim role, came under fire from politicians on both sides of the aisle when WikiLeaks emails showed she had used her position at the news channel tell Clinton's camp about a debate question ahead of time.
Howard Dean, the DNC’s leader from 2005 to 2009 and a former governor of Vermont, threw his hat into the ring Thursday.
Dean told Bloomberg Thursday that he believes the Democratic Party is “in big trouble,” and pointed out that, under his leadership, Democrats won the House, Senate and presidency in 2008.
Sanders, who represents a more progressive faction of the party, however, was not pushing for his fellow Vermont official to take the top seat. Instead, the senator opted for Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress. Sanders told the Washington Post the DNC should shift its focus toward the needs of the working class and away from elitism and fundraising efforts.
“You can’t tell working people you’re on their side while at the same time you’re raising money from Wall Street and the billionaire class,” he told the Post. “The Democratic Party has to be focused on grass-roots America and not wealthy people attending cocktail parties.”
New York Senator and soon-to-be Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer also supports Ellison and spoke to him Thursday, a source close to Schumer told ABC News. The source added that, “without a Democratic White House, Schumer’s view is the DNC is where grassroots organizing in sync with leg battles should be organized.”
Despite the high-profile support, Ellison hadn’t made an announcement as to whether he would pursue the position by the end of the week. Politico reported that he planned to announce his plan Monday.
Dean voiced his opposition to an Ellison run, arguing that it’s impossible to both serve in Congress and run the committee.
“I think we need a full-time chair,” he told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle on Friday, adding that he planned to speak to Sanders about Ellison’s potential. “You cannot do this job and sit in a political office at the same time.”
But Ellison and Dean aren’t the only contenders. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who ran early on in the Democratic primary but drew little polling success, said in a Friday statement that he’s “taking a hard look at DNC chair.” And Ray Buckley, the chairman of New Hampshire’s Democratic party, also said he was having “active conversations” about running for the national seat, the Boston Globe reported Friday.