Calling itself “DNC Members for Party Modernization”, the group lobbies for more of the party’s national budget to flow directly to the states, more distributed regional representation on party leadership teams, greater internal oversight of the party budget; and other changes to party governance rules such as new restrictions on proxy voting.
“This is us saying, ‘We are the DNC and we want the DNC to be more state-responsive,'” Nebraska Democratic Chairwoman Jane Kleeb, one of the organizers, said. “We have now gone through several cycles kicking ourselves and saying we should have organized. So we organize. »
The effort follows rifts among Democrats that have been endemic for decades, notably dating back to former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s party leadership when he focused after the 2004 election on investing. in all state parties. The current DNC leadership has earmarked much of its funding for a number of swing states likely to decide Senate control in 2022 and the 2024 presidential election. Several state parties in other parts of the country believe that more local efforts have been left behind.
Organizers say their efforts are not intended to show a lack of support for President Biden or party chairman Jaime Harrison, a former South Carolina state party chairman.
The Democratic National Committee, in a statement, responded to the meeting by saying that the party’s current leadership has significantly increased funding to state parties in recent years.
“The DNC, led by Chairman Harrison, has been more generous to state parties than any previous DNC in modern history,” the statement said. “The DNC last year announced $23 million in direct investments to support all 57 state parties and territories, including a one-of-a-kind red state fund to implement targeted programs in traditionally Republican states. . Our States Parties remain one of the DNC’s many core priorities, as does ensuring the voice of grassroots DNC members in our party and party leadership committees.
Washington State President Tina Podlodowski, another organizer of the new group, said nearly 40 voting members showed up for the early morning meeting, which was not publicly announced beforehand. She said about 100 members have expressed interest in joining the effort, which was quietly outlined in a two-page organizing document circulated earlier this week.
“It’s about making sure that we fund and do the work of organizing every race in every place in the country and that the DNC is focused on those things to build a vibrant Democratic Party,” Podlodowski said.
Celebration‘The most recent efforts to mitigate internal criticism came after the 2016 election. Dubbed the “Unity and Reform Commission,” it was designed to heal divisions that remained after the contentious presidential primary between the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
This effort led to a number of changes in the functioning of the party that were intended to increase the power of grassroots Democratic voters, including an effort to minimize the use of caucuses in presidential nominations and a decision to remove the leaders of party to have a decisive role. say on the first ballot at nominating conventions. This effort also recommended the creation of a “Council of Mediators” which would deal with any complaints internal to the national party.
The document released this week called for this work to continue and warned to go back. The document notes that the party does not have a functioning ombudsman process and raises alarms about the possibility of an effort to overturn the ban on party leaders from voting decisively in the first round of voting. for the presidential nomination.
A DNC spokesperson said the national party did not disagree on the important role of a mediation committee and was still being formed with newly elected party members.
One of the organizers of Friday’s meeting, former Communications Workers of America president Larry Cohen, served as vice chairman of the Unity and Reform Commission, representing the efforts of many Sanders supporters. 2016 campaign. Committee chair Jen O’Malley Dillon became Biden’s campaign manager in 2020 and now serves as Biden’s deputy chief of staff, helping oversee White House coordination with the DNC .
“The heart of it isn’t more money, it’s about transparency, democracy and party building,” Cohen said of the new effort. “The voting rights within the party and in the primaries matter just as much as the voting rights in the general election.”
DNC Members for Party Modernization currently does not have enough members to establish a governing majority within the party, although organizers plan to continue recruiting over the next few days. There are currently 453 voting members of the national party, including 75 extraordinary members appointed by the party president and 200 members elected by state parties, according to a party spokesperson. The others are elected officials and other stakeholders.
But the group’s organizers still hope be able to influence party conversations by operating as a separate bloc, including in votes later this year that will set the timeline for the 2024 presidential primaries and establish DNC party rules at the nominating convention in 2024 , said Kleeb.
A discussion of Iowa’s potential removal from its traditional spot as the top presidential candidate state was scheduled for Friday afternoon at a meeting of the rules and regulations committee.
Democratic strategists involved in internal conversations have made it clear that Iowa’s position as the top candidate state is in jeopardy, due to the state’s Republican drift in recent years, logistical failures in 2020 of ballot counting caucus voting and demographic makeup of the overwhelming white majority. State. Rules and regulations leaders are expected to come up with a 2024 schedule later this summer or fall, according to people familiar with the plans.
The organizers of the new group hope to continue to swell their ranks over the coming months.
“Honestly, we don’t think 100 is where we stop,” Podlodowski said. “It’s a place where we think we’ll continue to organize.”