Liveblog: DNC reduces role of party leaders in choosing presidential nominee
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August 25 by Lynn Sweet
After DNC summer meeting adjourned, a smiling Chairman Tom Perez was mingling in the lobby and restaurant at the Hyatt accepting congratulations.
Shortly after the vote, the DNC emailed out a fundraising appeal – the ask ranged from $10 to $2,000 – with the subject line “NEWS: Updates to the presidential nominating process.”
In the note, Perez touted how the party has “taken the historic step of dramatically reducing the influence that superdelegates have over our presidential nominating process.”
It is worth repeating that the chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, House Speaker Michael Madigan D-Chicago, didn’t bother to attend a national meeting of the DNC in his backyard.
Folks are heading out. The DNC work in Chicago is done.
On to November.
One insight: These DNC changes were a lot easier to make with no 2020 frontrunner Democratic presidential candidates around to complicate the delicate internal DNC politics that have unfolded the last few days.
It’s been my pleasure to provide updates to you in this space.
All the best. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. I’ll be writing a column about all this that will post tonight and be in the Sunday paper.
August 25 by Lynn Sweet
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent who accused the DNC of rigging the presidential nominating system against him in 2016, issued this statement after the rules were changed to curb the influence of superdelegates:
“Today’s decision by the DNC is an important step forward in making the Democratic Party more open, democratic and responsive to the input of ordinary Americans. This has been a long and arduous process, and I want to thank Tom Perez and all of those who made it happen.”
Sanders, after seeking the Democratic nomination, is not a member of the party.
At-a-glance about the DNC changes, according to release from DNC..
Here are specifics on the reforms from the DNC:
Superdelegates: The reforms passed by the full DNC require superdelegates to refrain from voting on the first presidential nominating ballot unless a candidate has enough votes from pledged delegates (based on the outcomes of primaries and caucuses) that superdelegates wouldn’t overturn the will of the people. While superdelegates have never in history reversed the will of the voters, this proposal rebuilds trust and addresses even the perception that this could occur. This proposal still gives superdelegates access to credentials, housing, and the convention floor; it maintains their voting privileges on all other party business like the platform, it maintains diversity of the 2016 delegate pool; and it does not preclude superdelegates from endorsing a candidate of their choosing.
Caucuses: The DNC passed reforms that make caucuses more inclusive, transparent, and accessible to participants. Specifically, these reforms require caucuses to have absentee voting or another mechanisms that would give folks who can’t participate in person a way to join in the process. In addition, these reforms mandate that states provide a written vote to allow for a recount if needed.
Primaries: While caucuses definitely have their place in the nominating process, the reforms encourage state parties to use a government-run primary where possible and to help ensure that primaries are more accessible to anyone who wants to participate as a Democrat. In addition, the reforms encourage state parties to work with states to strive for same-day or automatic registration and same-day party switching in Democratic primaries.
Party Reforms: The DNC passed reforms focused on strengthening the party and making it more competitive in all regions by investing in technology, empowering grassroots participation, diversifying the donor base, and supporting state parties in building infrastructure. Specifically, these reforms will combat voter suppression tactics; make the party competitive in every state and territory; increase grassroots participation; make the party more transparent, including in its Joint Fundraising Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding; and strengthen inclusivity and build on the great diversity of the party.
Superdelegates – not so super anymore.
DNC members change the rules.
Win for DNC Chair Tom Perez, who said, “we should never be afraid to have a family debate.” Noting how divisive the issue was Perez said, “I think these discussions have made us stronger.”
Will see if all wounds healed.
Very classy move by former DNC chair Don Fowler, leading the charge against curbing clout of
#superdelegates. “The body has spoken,” he said and moved to suspend the rules and vote by acclimation. That shut down the procedural skirmishes by foes. Fowler got standing ovation.
OPPOSITION DEFEAT ON SKIRMISH: The @DNC members trying to thwart #superdelegate changes just lost a bid that would have sidelined the superdelegate vote by first requiring a two-thirds vote to change DNC charter. A thumping 329.5 to 106.5 in paper ballot.
Floor skirmish going on whether a charter change is needed to approve changes. Translated..that would require a two-thirds vote rather than a majority. While this fight is not about the substance of the proposed reforms, it is a tactic that could prevent passage today.
DNC showed a video from former DNC chair Howard Dean, who backs reducing the influence of superdelegates.
Former DNC Chair Don Fowler urging a no vote. “It’s not right…creates a “fundamental change” in the way the DNC nominates a president.
Argued Fowler, “no membership organization” “cuts off its leadership “from the most important decisions it makes.”
Democratic National Committee members this morning vote on a package of reforms for holding primary and caucus votes –nothing very controversial and Iowa will still kickoff president balloting – with the sizzler of possibly curbing the clout of superdelegates. Asking DNC members to strip them of what now is their right as automatic delegates to vote on the first ballot has been a big deal these past few days at the DNC summer meeting in Chicago.
DNC chairman Tom Perez told me in an interview he is “confident” he has the votes for the overhaul.
Former interim DNC Chair Donna Brazile says superdelegates are the leaders who are the “sauce” –not the whole dish, but a vital part — and the change should not be made.
About last night
Milwaukee, lobbying for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, hosted a reception at the Hyatt last night with the star draw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The other cities in the running are Miami and Houston, and they hosted receptions on Thursday night. Site selection committee members visit Milwaukee next week.
For the record
Testing the waters for a presidential bid, Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti devoted a good chunk of Friday to hanging out at the DNC summer meeting, the only 2020 maybe contender attending. Avenatti, who in the 1990s worked in an opposition research firm with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, arrived at the DNC meeting on Thursday. The much-in-demand news show guest did his live shots from Chicago.
August 24 by Lynn Sweet
Illinois State Party Chair Michael Madigan, the Speaker of the Illinois House, skipped the DNC meeting in Chicago.
It’s not his thing, even though he is the chair – but he is delivering most of the state party votes – including his own – in favor of changing the superdelegate rules.
Here is the text of the Madigan letter….
Chair Tom Perez & DNC Membership
430 South Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
Dear Chair Perez and Fellow Democrats:
As a strong voice for Midwestern Democrats, the Democratic Party of Illinois is proud to support the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee’s proposal for the recommendations made by the Unity Commission. These recommendations reflect our shared commitment to a truly open and representative Party, and will further our efforts to build and mobilize the strongest possible coalition of voters in November and beyond.
We are the “Party of the People,” and all voters should know that whenever they cast their vote for a Democrat, their voice will be heard. The Unity Commission’s recommendations do just that. Under these reforms, we can be confident that the next President of the United States will be chosen through the most open and transparent process in history.
We support these recommendations and would encourage our Democratic colleagues to join us in voting yes at this weekend’s DNC meeting in Chicago.
Michael J. Madigan, Chair – Democratic Party of Illinois
Karen Yarbrough, Vice-Chair – Democratic Party of Illinois
The buzz on Friday afternoon at the DNC meeting in Chicago was whether DNC Chair Tom Perez has the votes to pass a controversial measure to trim superdelegates of some of their clout. The vote is Saturday.
I talked to Clem Balanoff, the chair of Bernie Sanders Illinois campaign about superdelegates and some local Illinois and Chicago politics. Balanoff went on to become the Illinois chair of the group spawned by the Sanders campaign, “Our Revolution.” Balanoff wants to trim the power of superdelegates.
Earlier, the DNC women’s caucus met and the speakers included Rep. Robin Kelly D-Ill., and Illinois Democratic House hopeful Lauren Underwood, running against Rep. Randy Hultgren in the suburban Chicago 14th congressional district.
I talked to Underwood about the women’s vote in that district.
The superdelegate proposal has met with resistance from some members of the Congressional Black Caucus. I asked Kelly – a CBC member who has been an elected delegate, as well as a superdelegate, about the issue and where she stands.
I also talked to former Illinois Democratic House contender Marie Newman before the women’s caucus. Newman lost her March Illinois primary bid to Rep. Dan Lipinski D-Ill. We discussed all the women running for office in 2018.
It’s 75 days until the midterm election and the Democratic National Committee summer meeting resumes Friday in Chicago with major agenda items winning in November and trimming superdelegates of some of their clout in picking a presidential nominee.
The move is seen by DNC Chair Tom Perez as crucial in regaining the trust of Democrats, who in 2016 claimed the primary process was rigged against Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent.
In June the DNC Rules and Bylaws committee – made up of the insiders insiders – specialists in the arcane rules of the DNC – agreed overwhelmingly to the changes – if not on the merits than on the need to not alienate the progressive wing of the party.
The vote on new rules dealing with superdelegates – also known as automatic delegates – is on Saturday.
Meanwhile, any last minute maneuvering to thwart passage of the changes will be evident late on Friday when the Rules and Bylaws Committee meets at 6 p.m.
Former DNC chair Don Fowler is a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee and I talked to him about why he is against the change.
On Thursday the argument for the superdelegate revisions was made by Maryland Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Matthews.
And I talked with State Rep. Christian Mitchell D-Chicago, the interim executive director of the the Democratic Party of Illinois about getting out the youth vote. There will be a big push in Illinois college towns this November, he said. Mitchell has a $1 million GOTV pot of money to work with, bankrolled in part by Illinois Democratic candidate for governor, J.B. Pritzker.
August 23 by Lynn Sweet
Houston is making a big push to host the Democratic presidential convention in 2020. While in town, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner took a side trip to City Hall to visit with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Michael Avenatti provided the only buzz this afternoon at the DNC summer meeting – in part because he is the only 2020 contender who is at the gathering. I interviewed him about his presidential run, the impact of the Paul Manafort guilty verdict and Michael Cohen guilty plea and what’s next for Stormy Daniels.
Right now, the members are at a Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting discussing changes to automatic or superdelegates rules.
DNC vice chair Michael Blake takes questions from reporters on issues confronting Democrats at their summer meeting in Chicago – from getting out the vote to superdelegates to Trump and more.
Porn star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is mulling a 2020 Democratic presidential run, is due to arrive at the DNC summer meeting in Chicago any minute. He said he is coming in a tweet. Avenatti will huddle with the DNC Ethnic Council.
Maryland Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Matthews discusses what’s at stake in the Democratic National Committee debate about revising the superdelegate rules. She supports the changes.
Not worth his time.
Democratic state party chairs from across the nation are at the DNC summer meeting in Chicago.
Illinois State House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), the chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois, so far is not attending the DNC meeting that is, with traffic, maybe 30 minutes from his home on Chicago’s South Side.
His spokesman, Steve Brown told me on Wednesday Madigan has a lot of demands on his time, including fundraising. “It’s a busy time,” Brown told me. “He’s doing a lot of stuff.”
Madigan is the rare Democratic state party chair who has little to do with the DNC, so his skipping this meeting is not surprising – or his attendance even expected.
DNC Chair Tom Perez is rallying DNC members to reform the rules dealing with superdelegates, making a big pitch at the morning executive session. Automatic, or superdelegates are elected or appointed officials who get to cast a presidential nominee vote. This was a big issue for Bernie Sanders supporters in 2016. The DNC created a Unity Commission to consider changes, with members picked by Sanders and Clinton representatives. The reforms will be voted on Saturday.
Most voters don’t care about superdelegates, DNC vice Chair Michael Blake told reporters on Thursday covering the DNC summer meeting in Chicago. “Voters want us to be listening to them. This is a way to show we are listening.”
Perez said to members at the morning session, he will spend the next 48 hours “making sure every voice is heard.”
At the DNC summer meeting, I talk to Rep. Jan Schakowsky D-Ill. about how the Paul Manafort convictions and Michael Cohen guilty plea will play in the GOP-controlled House when members come back after Labor Day – and just before the November midterm elections.
On the to-do list for the Democratic National Committee summer meeting, kicking off Thursday morning in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker Drive:
- Getting out the midterm vote in a chaotic political environment as Republicans have to grabble with the spreading scandals surrounding President Donald Trump
- Revamping the caucus, primary and “superdelegate” system leading to the nomination of the presidential nominee. Continue to address and patch rifts stemming from the bruising 2016 Democratic primary between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
- Cybersecurity. A big issue since the Russian hacking into DNC computers in 2016.
- Taking steps to pick a city to host the 2020 presidential convention, with Houston, Miami and Milwaukee the finalists. Members of the host committees and mayors or other top honchos of the cities will be in Chicago to lobby for their towns. Houston and Miami are hosting receptions on Thursday night. (The GOP will be meeting in Charlotte.)
The Miami2020 Host Committee and others from Florida invited members to a floating party on the Odyssey to “experience the distinctive flavor and tropical heartbeat of our world-class city.”
The Houston “Summer Soiree” will be at the Hyatt with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner hosting.
About Wednesday night
First, I staked out a fundraiser at the Hyatt, the DNC Finance “Midwest Will Vote” reception.
Top elected Democrats from the Chicago area and contenders on the November ballot attended. Among those spotted: state Rep. Christian Mitchell, the Democratic Party of Illinois Interim Executive Director; Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx; Rep. Brad Schneider; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi; state Sen. Mattie Hunter; J.B. Pritzker’s running mate, state Rep. Juliana Stratton; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; Cook County Assessor candidate Fritz Kaegi and DNC National Finance Chair Henry R Muñoz III.
At-a-glance Chicago Sun-Times Q and A with Henry Muñoz…
Q. What do you hope this meeting in Chicago brings to Democrats?
A. Continue to build the unity in the party and also to express to people gathered here from throughout the country the amazing energy that is out there to elect Democrats.
Q. Are you doing a lot of fundraising at this event?
A. Well, tonight is a good start. We are doing a lot of fundraising every day. People are really responding to the request to invest in candidates. They are particularly excited by our candidates. They are particularly excited by women who are running for Congress. They are excited in my home state of Texas, by Latinas who are running for Congress.
Q. The Republican National Committee out raised the Democratic National Committee last quarter. What does that mean?
A. It means there are piles and piles of dark money associated with Donald Trump and his White House that is pouring into the RNC. And while we never raise as much money as the RNC, we raise enough money to win.
After the funder, I headed to the riverwalk to observe a “State Democratic Party Happy Hour” at the Island Party Hut. The event was hosted by BallotReady target smart and Speak Easy political mail, two firms in the voter targeting and direct mail business handling Democratic clients.
Also on the fundraising front …
Rep. Adam Schiff D-Calif. hit Chicago on Wednesday to headline funders for Rep. Mike Quigley D-Ill. and House hopeful Sean Casten, battling Rep. Peter Roskam R-Ill.
Schiff is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee; Quigley is a member of the panel. The funder featured a discussion with Quigley and Schiff moderated by State’s Attorney Foxx. Among the topics were this week’s news of Paul Manafort’s conviction and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, Trump’s potential legal exposure and the Russian investigation.
August 22 by Lynn Sweet
Houston is making a big pitch to win the 2020 DNC presidential convention at the party’s summer meeting of leadership in Chicago. At the hotel headquarters, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, the signs are obvious. Houston, Milwaukee and Miami are the finalists and the cities will be using the Chicago gathering to lobby DNC members.
August 22 by Sun-Times Staff
Nearly 500 Democrats from across the U.S. converge on Chicago Wednesday with a top agenda item to revise the presidential nominee selection process. A vote to finalize a new process is set for Saturday.
It’s the Democratic National Committee summer meeting, where Democrats will come together for three days to discuss work related to the midterm elections on Nov. 6 and take up reforms to the 2020 presidential nominating process – from the caucuses to the primaries to so-called “superdelegates.” The clout of these delegates who earn a seat with their state delegations because of party status will likely be trimmed.
Agenda for DNC Summer Meeting 2018
Hyatt Regency Chicago, Wacker Drive
Thursday, Aug. 23
7am – 6pm DNC Registration
8:30am – 10am Executive Committee
10:30am – 12pm Disability Council
10:30am – 12pm Small Business Council
10:30am – 12pm Youth Council
10:30am – 12pm Seniors Council
10:30am – 12pm Rural Council
10:30am – 12pm Vets & Military Families Council
10:30am – 12pm Interfaith Council
12pm – 1:30pm LGBT Caucus
1:30pm – 3pm Resolutions Committee
3pm – 4:30pm AAPI Caucus
3pm – 4:30pm Black Caucus
3pm – 4:30pm Hispanic Caucus
3pm – 4:30pm Native American Caucus
3pm – 4:30pm Ethnic Council
5pm – 7pm Rules & Bylaws Committee
7pm – 9pm DNC Welcome Reception
Friday, Aug. 24
7am – 6pm DNC Registration
7am – 8:30am Budget & Finance Committee (DNC Members ONLY)
8:30am – 10am Labor Council
10:30am – 12pm Members Only Session (DNC Members ONLY)
12:30pm – 2pm Credentials Committee
2pm – 3:30pm Women’s Caucus
4pm – 5:30pm Eastern Regional Caucus
4pm – 5:30pm Midwestern Regional Caucus
4pm – 5:30pm Southern Regional Caucus
4pm – 5:30pm Western Regional Caucus
6pm – 8pm Rules & Bylaws Committee
Saturday, Aug. 25
7am – 1pm DNC Registration
10am – 1pm General Session
Democrats have not decided where to hold their 2020 nominating convention. Expect a lively sideshow created by Democrats from Milwaukee, Houston and Miami – three cities in the final running for the convention. These lobbying drives are usually zany.