The DNC has received another blow as it tries to pick up the pieces after Hillary Clinton failed miserably in November 2016. After less than a year at her post, DNC CEO Jess O’Connell has stepped down. It seems that there’s no controversy surrounding her departure, but it just adds more chaos.
The departure of O’Connell — a longtime campaign pro who came to the DNC from EMILY’s List in May — comes at as the DNC works to rebuild under Chairman Tom Perez after years of neglect. It had struggled to raise money in 2017, but invested in local races in recent months.
“I’m proud to have helped to rebuild our party at a time when we needed it most. I am grateful to Chairman Tom Perez for the opportunity to serve during such a pivotal moment in our history as we fight with everything we’ve got to protect and promote Democratic values and to elect more Democrats nationwide,” O’Connell wrote in her email to the DNC staff, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO.
Perez sent a follow up email thanking O’Connell, and explaining that she will stay on in the coming weeks. He has begun searching for a replacement already, and she is expected to remain working from the Capitol Hill offices through March, said a Democrat familiar with the situation.
“We’ve come a long way in what’s honestly been a very short amount of time. When Jess walked in the door, the Democratic Party was broken,” Perez wrote, detailing Democratic victories since O’Connell joined, including gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey and the Alabama Senate special election. “Each of these accomplishments is due in large part to Jess’s tireless attention to detail, the decades of experience she brought to each situation and her ability to keep distractions at bay.”
Despite what Perez says, the party is still in disarray. The DNC fired its financial director in November after a dreadful year of fundraising. The party only raised around $62 million in 2017 while the RNC brought in $121.4 million. The GOP outdueled the DNC by a long shot every month of the year.
Take a look at Perez’s statement because according to Politico, he said something different last week:
But going into a midterm election that should be the Democrats’ to lose, the DNC is still struggling to bring its factions together and assert itself. Throw into the mix powerful super PACs, the much-better-funded party committees focused on Congress and governors, and more independent voters than ever, and many wonder whether the DNC has a place at all anymore.
“I knew it was a turnaround job when I ran, but I undeniably underestimated the depth of the turnaround job. We had to rebuild almost every facet of the organization, and equally importantly, we had to rebuild trust,” Perez said in a recent interview at party headquarters. “Not just people who had invested in the DNC, but others — they just felt the party had let them down.”
Flush with cash, these independent progressive organizations have been able to throw their weight around in elections of their choosing, even if the national apparatus sits one out.
Daily Kos was instrumental in raising funds for the first special election of the year alongside Democracy for America, a political action committee founded by Howard Dean and Our Revolution, an organization spun out of Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT.) presidential campaign. Despite taking place in a district that President Trump carried by 27 points, the Democrat in that Kansas congressional race, James Thompson, lost in a surprisingly narrow fashion, raising questions as to why the national Democratic party stayed away until the last moment.
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