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Democrats haunted by ghosts of Obama’s DNC

“I don’t see Ms. O’Malley Dillon as a grassroots ally,” said Colorado-based DNC member Jeri Shepherd. “I wish I was wrong.”

State party leaders complain of being underfunded during this time and designate Dillon as the person negotiating with them on the national committee. Biden’s deployment of his list of DNC officers last week – which some party officials complained about was without proper consultation – was seen as a throwback to that time.

“We are all suspicious of Jen Dillon and the way she handled this for Obama, and it seems to be the same operating procedures,” said a member of the DNC who requested anonymity to speak freely. “There is no love on either side. … She’s a Beltway person, not a core investor, and treats us all like village idiots frankly.

Biden announced his preferences for senior DNC positions around 6 p.m. Thursday, just hours before candidates for the positions were required to file nomination papers. This has led to complaints about the lack of notice and the frustration of those who were not asked for their opinion on the choices. They also said it prevented any opposition from organizing for the vice presidents.

Amid the scarcity of information, a handful of DNC members had quietly worked to prepare a list of officers that could have been submitted at the last minute if necessary, according to a person familiar with the plan.

Another Head of State Party, who declined to speak officially, said that “one of the concerns about Jen is that she was one of the architects of the OFA, and she was also one of the architects of the OFA. people who, at the DNC during that time, really took a lot of resources and put them into an outside organization. “

The person added that while they “don’t want to take anything away from her talent in her job”, O’Malley Dillon “is not a party girl”.

O’Malley Dillon, whose official role will be to serve as Biden’s deputy White House chief of staff, was among a group of Biden’s senior advisers who advised him on his list of choice of officers of the DNC. She should help him manage his political portfolio in the White House and beyond.

Howard Chou, vice chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party, praised O’Malley Dillon’s work for Biden’s 2020 campaign, but said: “I hope she understands the importance of the infrastructure of the ‘State Party. ”

“I don’t know her personally. But just from the previous experiences of what happened in state parties during the Obama era, we can no longer make this mistake, ”he said, adding that the party needs to focus on “The empowerment of state structures and grassroots voices, and the ability to work collaboratively. . ”

Several other heads of state and members of the DNC vigorously defend O’Malley Dillon. They said she demonstrated her commitment to state parties last year, when Biden’s team worked closely with the DNC and oversaw a coordinated program between the campaign, state organizations and the national party that sent over $ 100 million to these groups – a level of collaboration, they said, had not taken place in years.

“Jen O’Malley Dillon made the fundamental decision to treat states parties as partners,” said Ben Wikler, Chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. “All of our conversations with her and the DNC give me great confidence that the DNC and Biden management will continue to upgrade local and state infrastructure as we approach 2022 and 2024.”

Some Democrats said they saw her as working on their behalf from the inside out while she was in the DNC under Obama, and that the OFA idea started before she even joined the Obama campaign. . Others have argued that the financial resources of states parties did not change during his time there, although the heads of state parties dispute this.

“I didn’t blame her. I just think it was White House policy, ”said Carol Fowler, then leader of the South Carolina Democratic Party, who negotiated with O’Malley Dillon on behalf of state organizations. “I always felt she was on my side.”

Ray Buckley, the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party who previously headed the Association of State Democratic Committees, said that “anyone who’s talking doesn’t know what they’re talking about” because “she was the only champion we had.”

One factor on which even the harshest critics of O’Malley Dillon take solace is the fact that Biden has taken a very different posture towards the party than Obama. Biden is an institutionalist, while Obama has campaigned as a party outsider. Biden also promised not to create an outside group like OFA.

A transitional source from Biden said his team had learned lessons from the past and that he had personally chosen his roster of DNC officers, including Harrison, a former state party president himself backed by heads of state organizations. The person also pointed out that Harrison will lead the DNC, while O’Malley Dillon will advise Biden in his role as leader of the Democratic Party.

“The president-elect has been an enthusiastic champion of the Democratic candidates in the ballot box and on local democratic committees. He has made the empowerment of states parties a priority as a democratic candidate for the presidency,” said TJ Ducklo, a spokesperson. word of Biden. elected officials and his entire team will be close partners with the DNC under the leadership of Jaime Harrison, so that state parties can thrive and continue to elect Democrats at all levels of government.

Still, Biden’s story – and Harrison’s presence – hasn’t completely alleviated the concerns of some Democrats.

“The most worrying state [party] presidents is that Jaime will be paralyzed, ”said the DNC member. As for Biden, he “is a little busy”.

O’Malley Dillon supporters said his critics would soon realize they were wrong about him.

“Jen guided President-elect Biden to historic victory by working closely with Democrats across the country and making unprecedented investments in Democratic Party States – including a multi-million dollar field operation that was totally coordinated and integrated with our partners in the State Party, ”said Mary Beth Cahill, CEO of the DNC. “Anyone who hasn’t noticed the close partnership she forged between the DNC and the Biden campaign during the general election and the emphasis she placed on supporting Democratic state organizations didn’t pay attention. . “


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