A deep dive piece by Politico published this week suggests that the Democratic National Committee -- still reeling from explosive allegations leveled in a book written by former Chairwoman Donna Brazile -- remains a cauldron of factionalism, discontentment, and dysfunction. Current Chairman Tom Perez is struggling mightily to unite the party (beyond lockstep anti-Trumpism), and is struggling even more acutely in the fundraising department. Some highlights (or lowlights, depending on your perspective), starting with intra-party rifts:
One year into Tom Perez’s project to save the Democratic National Committee from complete collapse, officials are beginning to dig out of the hole left by Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s mismanagement, Barack Obama’s indifference, Russian hacking and the bitter rivalry between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders capped by accusations of election rigging. 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 if 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.”
It's interesting that a guy who's bellyaching about the Herculean nature of the turnaround job with which he's tasked decided to take a side gig that consumes time and energy -- but does provide supplemental personal income. The story also reports that Perez maintains a decidedly "chilly" relationship with his deputy chair Keith Ellison, last seen promoting Antifa's political violence:
The DNC has become every frustrated Democrat’s favorite piñata, and a symbol of everything that went wrong in 2016. Sanders-Clinton hostilities have taken on a new form: The tension now is over whether Sanders should hand over his massive voter list to the committee, as Perez has asked, and whether the committee has gone far enough to overhaul internal rules that Sanders forces are convinced rigged the nomination for Clinton. Neither side is satisfied, and words like “crazy,” “still doesn’t get it,” and, in one case, “Judas” are tossed around to describe people in the opposite camp. The relationship between Perez and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the former rival whom Perez named deputy chair in an attempt to ease tribal infighting, remains chilly, with periodic explosive fights over party strategy and appointments.
But is the schism between mainstream Democrats and the ascendant Berniecrats finally healing? Sure, they share their loathing of Trump and Republicans, but internal mistrust still runs deep, and "rigging" wounds are still festering:
The committee is trying to forge ahead even as it remains saddled by factionalism. The war between Sanders and Clinton has morphed into a battle between people who believe the Vermont senator needs to actively participate in an institution that's changing to accommodate his demands — and those who believe the DNC should just be grateful Sanders and his allies are helping it change. The dispute largely revolves around Sanders’ massive email list: The DNC wants it, but Sanders has no intention of handing it over. The Sanders line is clear: No way will he be providing his list or any other information to the DNC, as Perez has asked, or pitch in otherwise to an organization that he is demanding be reshaped. To the Sanders orbit, it’s not nearly enough that Perez backed the recommendations of a yearlong “Unity Commission” set up to revise internal rules that Sanders supporters argued disenfranchised the base. “We still have a long way to go. We’ve made big steps forward in opening up the party and making the nominating process more democratic,” said Jeff Weaver, campaign manager for the 2016 Sanders campaign and a leader of the efforts on his behalf in the Unity Commission.
“We’ve also got to make sure that all the different factions of the party are represented at the DNC. Tom can do a little bit more to bring in some other voices.” Weaver said, though, that there won’t ever be a point when Sanders gives the DNC access to his voter data. “I don’t think you should expect that to happen. If people think the Sanders list is just an ATM, they’re sadly mistaken,” he said. “It’s a list of millions of people who are motivated by a certain policy agenda. If they think it can be easily transferred, I think it’s a fantasy.”
The central party's money woes are real, despite Democrats and friends consistently outspending the GOP and right-leaning allies in national elections (and other elements of the party still pulling in cash hand over fist):
This calls for more cursing. Anyway, trouble continues to brew for the Democratic Party, with potential policy crack-ups on the horizon (single-payer healthcare comes to mind) -- but President Trump's unpopularity and the their huge generic ballot leads suggest that, much like the Republicans in 2009 and 2010, Democrats are well positioned to win major victories this year. In spite of themselves.