Dems Wade Into National Leadership Fight

Markeshia Ricks PhotoLooking to influence the future course of their party, New Haven’s Democratic Town Committee plans to endorse one of the leading candidates for national chairman in a battle that has revived the conflicting visions of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Nearly 70 of the city’s Democrats, mostly its ward co-chairs, gathered at the Betsy Ross Parish House on Kimberly Avenue in the Hill Monday to debate whom to back in the Democratic National Committee chair fight: U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a prominent supporter of Sanders’ presidential primary campaign; or former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a prominent supporter of Clinton’s quest.

The DNC’s election for chairman is expected to be held any time between Thursday and Monday during its winter meeting. In New Haven, the debate Monday night turned on who can bring Obama voters who voted for Republican President Donald Trump back into the fold, and unite the party’s progressive and establishment factions.

The New Haven Democratic Town Committee’s (DTC) platform committee recommended weighing in on the national fight as the party decides how to rebuild from its devastating November defeats. At the parish house Monday night, members began voting on a recommendation to send to the seven Connecticut DNC members who will cast ballots. As the state’s largest party committee with the most respected vote-pulling apparatus, the DTC is listened to by Connecticut politicians.

Though other Democrats are vying for the position of party chairman, Ellison and Perez are seen as frontrunners. The men represent two factions battling for the soul of the party. Perez is backed by establishment Democrats like former Vice President Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder; Ellison has the support of the progressive wing of the party represented by U.S. Sens. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. President Obama has declined to make an endorsement in the contest though it is widely believed that he favors Perez.

Twenty New Haven DTC members voted in support of Ellison at Monday night’s meeting. The other 40 DTC members have until 4 p.m. Thursday to email in their choices before the DTC formally goes on record with its choice.

Connecticut holds seven of the 447 votes that will decide the next DNC chairman. Two of those votes are already committed: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is supporting Perez; Connecticut Democratic State Party Chairman Nick Balletto is backing Ellison. The next chairman needs a simple majority of 224 votes to win.

The five other top state Democrats who will help decide who the next national party chairman are: Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman; state party vice chair, Dita Bhargava; Joanne Sullivan, National Federation of Democratic Women chair; former state party chair Nancy DiNardo; and John Olsen, former AFL-CIO Connecticut head.

New Haven DTC Chairman Vinnie Mauro Jr. said that with five more votes still up for grabs, this is an opportune time for New Haven—a big blue dot in a little blue state that turned out 34,577 votes for Hillary Clinton—to weigh in on the national leadership and ultimately the direction of the party. Mauro said it’s the first time that the DTC has attempted to have such influence on the national party.

Ellison, who is known for his grassroots organizing, was the heavy favorite, at least in New Haven. His name was on the lips of many who spoke Monday, including State Sen. Gary Winfield, and the majority of the platform committee. (Maria Elena Durazo, the current DNC vice chair, was also supported by the Ellison camp in New Haven for her efforts at turning states like California and Nevada blue in 2016.)

Winfield, who supported Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary, came to know Ellison through their work in a states-level organization that worked to turn red states blue. He said Ellison isn’t someone who just talks about being progressive. Winfield said Ellison is someone who has been in the fight as the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and as the first Muslim member of Congress. Ellison is “someone who is willing to fight to make our politics a little more blue than they currently are,” Winfield said

“My personal opinion is that we should take a strong look at his alignment with the part of the party that feels like it wasn’t listened to [in the last election],” he said. “I think it could help to bring the party together in ways that some others who align differently in the party may not.”

Lisa Bassani, a platform committee member and Morris Cove Ward 18 co-chair, said she doesn’t disagree with Winfield’s characterization of Ellison, but she still wasn’t sure if he is the right person for the job. Bassani said Tom Perez is talking about “the most salient thing facing us right now”: voter suppression. She said between strict voter ID laws, and ending of initiatives that encourage voter participation such as Sunday voting in North Carolina, Republicans have made voter suppression part of their political strategy.

“The Republicans came at this hard 10 years ago and they sat down and they created a multi-prong effort to basically eliminate voting rights for a lot of people,” Bassani said. “I think if we don’t sit down ... with a deep plan to change that, I don’t see how we overcome the next four year.”

Bassani said if Ellison is ultimately chosen to lead the party she hopes it doesn’t become a divisive fight that continues to keep party factions at odds. “We’ve got a psychopath in the White House,” she said. “And what we need is to be unified. Honestly, if Ellison wins, let’s get behind him. No matter who wins, let’s put our boots on and help.”

Some DTC members in the rooms said they want a little more time to learn about the candidates, who also include Sally Boynton Brown of Idaho, executive director of the party since 2012; Pete Buttigieg of Indiana, Mayor of South Bend since 2012;  Robert Vinson Brannum, Veterans Committee chair of the NAACP’s Washington D.C. branch; Jehmu Greene of Texas, Democratic strategist, Fox News analyst, and former Rock The Vote president.; Peter Peckarsky of Wisconsin, attorney; Jaime Harrison, chair of the South Carolina party since 2013; and Sam Ronan of Ohio, activist and U.S. Air Force veteran.

Raymond Buckley of New Hampshire, chairman of the New Hampshire Dem. Party since 2007, has since withdrew his name from the running and endorse Ellison.

The undecided, those like Upper Westville Ward 26 co-chair Amy Marx, will get a few more days to make their decision. Another 40 or so co-chairs will email their votes by Thursday. Marx said the way she sees it, there are two agendas at work in the direction of the party: the push for grassroots activism and excited base vs. a need to attract “the reachables.”

The reachables, she said, are those voters who claimed to have voted for Obama previously, but went on to vote for current President Donald Trump in the last election cycle.

“There’s no doubt that Congressman Ellison has the magic of grassroots activism. He’s [late U.S. Sen. Paul] Wellstone trained, he’s the hot ticket,” she said. “But I fear that it’s not what we need if we want to attract the reachables who voted for Trump.” Marx suggested that Ellison might be too far left to reach those Obama-turned-Trump voters, and Perez might be better at appealing to that demographic.

Ethel Berger, Ward 19 co-chair and platform committee member, countered that the way to reach those very voters is through grassroots organization, which she said didn’t happen among Democrats during the last presidential election.

“The only way to reach the ‘reachable’ is to knock on peoples’ doors and speak to people in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania,” she said. “We don’t need primary fundraising weekends in Ohio.”

Ultimately, those in attendance who were ready to cast their votes—about 20 of the people in attendance—did so for Ellison. The others, like West River Ward 23 co-chair Jerry Poole, will cast their vote by email before 4 p.m. Thursday.  Some in attendance wanted time to do a little research on the candidates and to watch an upcoming debate hosted by CNN Wednesday night. Others like Poole planned to use the short window to meet with or poll their ward committees on whom they should throw their weight behind.

“It’s not Jerry Poole’s vote. It’s Ward 23’s vote,” he said.

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posted by: Noteworthy on February 21, 2017  8:33am

Democrat Notes:

1. The DTC is notoriously closed and corrupt. It blocks outsiders and rewards those who fall in line and carry the water as dictated by the party elites.

2. That’s why all we get is the same old same old which is anything but progressive - it’s regressive with higher local taxes, more debt and more unfunded liabilities.

3. These failing policies are also carried to the state level which is why Gary Winfield, Roland Lemar and others approve more gambling, billions in new and expanded taxes and have even stooped so low as to break promises and tax hospitals by hundreds of millions of dollars. Add the move to increase minimum wages at businesses and government by 35% - and further erode our ability to create let alone grow jobs and economic activity.

4. If you want to rebuild the party, you don’t go further left. You get practical. Get real.  Adopt policies that help small businesses and families. Don’t just bitch about the other party. Propose and pass real legislation that directly makes our lives better. Quit giving us lip service. Give us real service. Authentic compassion and empathy for the mess that’s become New Haven and this state at the hands of the Democratic controlled legislature. There’s a reason Democrats lost more seats under the Dome. Look around and learn from your own mistakes.

5. As for the national candidates - Keith Ellison will be a part time party leader because he wants to double dip and hold his seat in Congress. If that doesn’t disqualify him - his ties and association with the Nation of Islam should. He is anti-Semitic. If he was a Republican - all these same people would be posting on FB along with SMH every day.

posted by: Xavier on February 21, 2017  9:14am

Geeze, progressive and identity politics - hopefully the dems will learn something from the last election. the dems are not the party of my grandparents and parents, who were union/lower middle-class. the modern dems party is identity politics and business/bankers money, much like the repubs. if the repubs. had found a real conservative that is not a racist, they would have had a landslide. DNC corrupted the last election with its leaning to HC, along with a little help from the russians, and their ineptitude.

did anyoen else chuckle when they read the DNC will be using email to vote for the new chair? Irony of Irony.

i think putin wants Perez!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 21, 2017  9:44am

People Wake up.The road to better representation for rank and file citizens starts with the assertion that the crooked two party establishment politics model is not working.Everyone but party hacks and brain-dead followers are sick of the two party system.Even the Young Millennials are sick and tired of this crooked two party system.To my Latino Brothers and Sisters.The Latino community owes nothing to the Democratic Party especially loyalty. We put them first and they put you last. Most of the Latino elected officials are married to the Democratic Party because of the perks they consume in your names. Black and Latino Millennials should not allow the DNC que los cojan de pen…jos. (take you as fools) and should not follow the lead of some of the old leadership that have proven to be alchahuetes (lackeys) for the Democratic party ignoring the broader interests of the whole community.And to my Black Brothers and Sisters.We need to follow what Brother MALCOLM X said.You give white politicians all of your support, and get nothing in return. You put the Democrats first, and they put you last——-MALCOLM X (from his speech called, the Ballot or the Bullet) Blacks and Latinos must get out of the crooked two party establishment and form there own parties.And we can do this by fighting for Proportional representation .

My bad.I forgot At one time Latinos did have there own party. It was call the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party led by Pedro Albizu Campos.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Rican_Nationalist_Party

Even Whites had a party call the Bull Moose Party (AkA) Progressive Party

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Party_(United_States,_1912)

posted by: New Haven Nuisance on February 21, 2017  11:30am

I am not sure why the articles I have been able to find covering the polling on these issues are from 2-3 years ago (perhaps because it is so obvious it does not need to be repeated or because the country has moved even more in this direction since), but here we go.

“On Issue After Issue, Americans Support the Democratic/Progressive Position”

Hightlight: “Campaign Financing: By huge margins, Americans support ” limiting the amount of money individuals can contribute to political campaigns” (71%-25%), and limiting spending by “groups not affiliated with a candidate” (76%-22%).”
http://bluevirginia.us/2014/07/on-issue-after-issue-americans-support-the-democraticprogressive-position


“Is the USA Center-Right? An Issue-by-Issue Breakdown”

Highlight: “According to these policy polls, an “average American” supports the redistribution of wealth through taxing the wealthy more, wants to increase the minimum wage and environmental protections, thinks that unions are beneficial to society, and opposes attempts to cut anti-poverty programs or entitlements, even if those cuts are intended to balance the budget. On social issues, this theoretical American supports gay equality, reasonable abortion access, universal background checks for gun purchases, wage-equality for women and the legalization of marijuana.”
https://theprogressivecynic.com/2014/05/02/is-the-usa-center-right-an-issue-by-issue-breakdown/amp/


“According To Polls Most Americans Are Socialists Like Bernie Sanders”

Hightlight: “It is almost a no-brainer, but over 63 percent of Americans completely agree with Sanders that it is imperative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour “over the next few years.”’
http://www.politicususa.com/2015/06/03/polls-americans-socialists-bernie-sanders.html


In conclusion, I say to anyone afraid of the Democratic Party going too far left, please bring the party to where the American people are; to the left of the Democratic Party!!!

posted by: Noteworthy on February 21, 2017  12:27pm

Just to be clear -

The problems locally and in this state relative to the Democrat Party are precisely the ones the national Democrat Party are facing. They are out of touch with anybody who doesn’t look like them and walk in their circles of familiarity; or who don’t reinforce what they already think. They’re busy broadcasting what they think people want to hear but they fail to listen at all. They do what makes them look big and important - and forget their purpose in their political life is to make our lives in New Haven and in Connecticut and the hometowns and states across the country - better. Solve problems.

When the party decides it’s going to do that, it might have a shot at rebuilding. If they don’t and keep going down the current road - the Democrats may win in New Haven but you’ll see the state legislature go the GOP just like Congress and the White House.

posted by: southwest on February 21, 2017  2:24pm

Noteworthy I have to somewhat agree with you on both posting..we definitely need a term limit like the president position..they don’t listen to,people it’s true they tell them what they think they want to hear just to get their votes…and then you want see them in your community or churches until the next election…they need to be ban from going into churches to campaign because they don’t attend anyway..I’m a Democratic and yes the party is really began to suck because they are stuck on stupid…all they no how to do is spend our taxpayers money like it’s a lotto they just won…balance your budget like taxpayers have to do…why don’t we just have a people party for all who are tired of the two party system..Demo and Repub..just a party for people who’s tired of the same old promise after they take everything from people who pay taxes…they should have never taken the toll booths down because it have not prevented major accidents…

posted by: wendy1 on February 21, 2017  2:46pm

I am willing to vote for any dem brave enough to push for affordable housing and a higher minimum wage.  I want young not old, truth not lies, action not words.  Think outside the box.  We are already close to chaos.  I marched with thousands in NYC yesterday against Trump.  We live in a police state so it’s time to knock down the barriers.  Yesterday the first amendment right to assemble was hindered by the cops with massive fences and troops in NYC.

posted by: duncanidaho645 on February 21, 2017  5:14pm

Kudos to Gary, Balletto, and the others who support Ellison.  Ronan is saying things that need to be said but unfortunately has no chance. 

These others, including the governor, are hurting in the brains department.

posted by: eliantonio on February 21, 2017  8:02pm

Democrats need to gut the national leadership and decide who they are and who they represent and who want to be.
Hilary was an insider’s insider who was anointed by the national party before she announced.  It was disgusting and she didn’t get away with it, and we were left with an exposed party that is too close to wall st and is too concerned with their own image.  Now that Trump has taken the presidency, it’s time to use this time to regroup, focus on new blood and give every American a reason to at least consider voting for our next candidate.
The distinguished gentleman from Minnesota should be the overwhelming choice.

posted by: GrimLynn on February 22, 2017  8:14pm

Just like the Democrats at the national level, the local party regulars seem to think that it’s all about marketing. It’s that kind of thinking that led to Hillary Clinton’s humiliating defeat last November. But her disastrous run was just the icing on the cake. You cannot spin your way out of 25 years of stagnant wages, environmental degradation, endless wars, substantial loss of civil liberties, or the rise of the predator corporations. Especially not when campaign contributions from those special interests skyrocketed during that same period.

Also, I had to laugh at the “most salient issue facing us right now.” Where was Lisa Bassani’s and Tom Perez’s concern about “voter suppression” during last year’s democratic primary? A race that saw record numbers of Democratic voter registration irregularities, and exit poll discrepancies, which were met with radio silence by local state and national Democrats?

posted by: Elm City Resident on February 24, 2017  7:51am

I’d be interested to know the breakdown of votes to see how many were cast along racial lines. Implicit bias aside, how did Perez and Ellison even become front runners in the first place? Most people couldn’t explain their respective platforms. Ellison is controversial and a terrible debater/public speaker (albeit a worker bee) and Perez is so far removed from reality and represents the old guard (although he could raise the most money).

Mayor Pete Buttigieg for DNC Chair!

posted by: Noteworthy on February 25, 2017  1:10pm

Ellison is not antisemitic?

https://www.algemeiner.com/2017/02/24/alan-dershowitz-why-i-will-leave-the-democratic-party-if-ellison-is-elected-its-chairman/

Those Dems who took umbrage over Sessions as USAG because of things he allegedly said 30 years ago, have zero room on this opportunistic SOB.