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New DNC – Fall 2017 Meeting

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The Democratic National Committee held its fall meeting in Las Vegas on October 18-21, 2017.  It’s a “New DNC” because:

  • The DNC has new energetic officers in Tom Perez, Keith Ellison and their team of officers and staff;
  • It focuses on local and state elections, and provided invaluable resources in Virginia;
  • The DNC is committed to building state parties through the beyond 50 State (every zip code counts) State Partnership Program that provides $10k/month to state parties (a 33% increase) and resources to make them more effective and the $10 million State Party Innovation Fund grant program to fund new state party initiatives;
  • The DNC has been using new and traditional communication strategies to advance Democratic policies and fight the Trump Administration initiatives, including the new Democrats Live broadcasts.
  • It has an openness to discussion – and yes criticism – that I haven’t seen before, including reaching out to members to nominate At-Large DNC members and having a two hour general session for officers to discuss what they are doing and answer questions;
  • Chairman Perez recognized the new voter protection program, staffed by our own Georgina Cannan, which helped us in Virginia, is working in Alabama, has a national-wide voter hotline (833-336-VOTE;, and will work to build state voter protection counsels;
  • The DNC is engaging communities year round, including through Resistance Summer this year;
  • We have a new budget committee that will provide more transparency for that process;
  • It is working to build low dollar fundraising (70%) and raise money to fund its efforts;
  • It is upgrading data and tech efforts and working with state parties to do so;
  • The caucuses and councils seem to be much for focused on specific action programs;
  • The DNC is an open party – below are excerpts from the our excellent Secretary Jason Rae‘s report, which provides additional details on the meeting, and useful links with additional information.
  • The Unity Reform Commission (see next post) continues its work on increase participation in state primaries and caucuses, make DNC member delegates reflect voter preferences, and make recommendations as to other party reforms.

Here are some excerpts from Secretary Rae’s report:  It was an action-packed week, where we came together for two General Sessions, an Executive Committee Meeting, four Standing Committee meetings, and a cumulative 18 Caucus and Council meetings!

During Thursday’s General Session for DNC members, Chair Tom Perez and CEO Jess O’Connell walked through the new DNC, highlighting our renewed focus on modernizing, organizing, rebuilding, and winning. Members heard from new senior leadership, including Political & Organizing Director Amanda Brown Liermann, CTO Raffi Krikorian and CMO Caitlin Mitchell. Chair Perez and team walked through a presentation detailing the new DNC. You can find a version of it here.  In addition, during Thursday’s session, a town hall was held that allowed members to ask questions of the Chair and the other officers. Topics ranged from organizing priorities, to how we are engaging millennials, to what investments are being made today in state parties. It was an informative discussion.

During Saturday’s General Session, we heard remarks from Senator Catherine Cortez Masto who talked about how they won in Nevada in 2016. She talked about how we cannot rely on anger and needing to focus on working families. We also were joined by former Senator Harry Reid. Our keynote speaker was former Attorney General Eric Holder who highlighted the fight against gerrymandering and next steps. In addition to hearing from these speakers, we watched several inspiring videos. One was created by our Digital shop that talks about the new DNC. The other was a [very moving] video highlighting Doug Jones in AlabamaSeeking Justice. We also were joined by video from Phil Murphy, candidate for governor in New Jersey, as well as via Skype by Tim Kaine and Justin Fairfax talking about the races in Virginia.

During the Saturday general session, the members approved the Chair’s slate of 75 at-large members, as well as standing committee appointments, by acclamation.  The list is below.  At-Large members from Virginia include State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (re-appointment), Del. Jeion Ward, Yohannes Abraham, Chris Lu, and Leopoldo MartinezDoris Crouse-Mays is now the Co-Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee.  Atima Omara was appointed to the Resolutions Committee.  Yasmine Taub was appointed to the Credential Committee.  DPVA Chair Susan Swecker was reappointed to the Rules and Bylaws Committee and Yohannes Abraham, Chris Lu, and me (Frank Leone) were also appointed to that committee.  People should realize that Budget only has 11 members and the other committees have only have 30 members, so this is a terrific showing for the Virginia delegation.

The DNC considered several reports from our Standing Committees.  The Resolutions Committee considered a number of resolutions submitted by members, which were a combination of messaging and commemorative resolutions.  Among the Resolutions adopted by the DNC were resolutions highlighting the DNC’s commitment to hurricane relief for Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and fire relief for California wildfires, opposing the Trump Muslim Ban, and outlining the DNC’s new mission. Commemorative resolutions recognized committed Democrats who had recently passed away, including former DNC LGBT Caucus Chair Rick Stafford and Bob Farmer.  In addition, the Executive Committee considered and adopted three timely and urgent resolutions, one on the Las Vegas massacre and the other two being commemorative.  The final resolutions, as approved by the DNC,are available here.

The DNC Credentials Committee met on Friday afternoon to hear updates on two challenges presently before the Committee.  Rules & Bylaws Committee Chair Jim Roosevelt reported out on the meeting of the RBC held on Thursday morning. The RBC adopted a revised charter amendment that deals with the gender balance of DNC officers. It was put forward to the body for a vote and adopted.  It was also shared that Chair Perez introduced a charter amendment adding the DNC Secretary and the President of the ASDC as automatic members of the Rules & Bylalws Committee.

Chair Perez provided a brief report on the exciting work of the Unity Reform Commission. The Commission has held four meetings since being appointed and have had informative and productive discussions on the various topics covered in the mandate. The Commission is required to issue its report and recommendations to the Rules and Bylaws Committee by January 1, 2018. As always, if you have any questions about the Unity Commission’s work, please don’t hesitate to reach them at

Transition Advisory Committee Report:  Reverend Leah Daughtry, one of the co-chairs for the DNC’s Transition Advisory Committee, shared updates on the Committee’s work and highlighted the focus areas that were discussed.

Caucus and Council Chair Elections:  Throughout the DNC meeting, each of our regional caucuses, as well as our constituency caucuses and councils, held elections for leadership positions. We are excited to have such a diverse slate of individuals who ran and were elected. Those Chairs that were elected were are listed below and Virginians noted as well – Please let me know if I missed anyone!
Black Caucus: Virgie Rollins
AAPI Caucus: Bel Leong-Hong
Women’s Caucus: Lottie Shackelford – Atima Omara is one of the Vice Chairs
LGBT Caucus: Earl Fowlkes
Hispanic Caucus: Iris Martinez
Midwestern Caucus: Ron Harris
Eastern Caucus: Nancy DiNardo
Southern Caucus: Alan Clendenin – Susan Swecker was elected as a DNC Executive Committee Representative
Western Caucus: Jesse Durfee
Youth Council: Akilah Ensley – Graham Weinschenk was appointed to the Youth Council
Rural Council: Betty Richie
Disability Council: Tony Coelho – Ed Turner is the Southern representative and former DPVA staff Monica Wiley is the Eastern representative.
Native American Council: Rion Ramirez
Small Business Council: Andrew Lachman
Seniors Council: Steve Regenstreif
Vets & Military Families Council: Thomas McDermott & Christine Pelosi
Labor Council: Maria Elena Durazo

The Association of State Democratic Chairs also met and were well represented by Susan Swecker and Marc Broklawski.  Thanks so much to Dave Leichtman and Brenner Tobe who participated in DNC Tech efforts and also Becca Slutsky and Georgina Cannan for all their work.

Finally, on  a personal note, although some folks thought I was on DNC Rules and Bylaws because I try to attend and post on their meetings.  I actually was lucky enough to serve on the DNC Credentials Committee (thanks Sen. Tim Kaine and Larry Roberts) for the past eight years and I am thrilled with the RBC appointment.  Thanks to Chair Perez and to the many people who put in a good word for me. 

  DNC 2017 At-Large & Committee Members (903.2 KiB, 5,491 hits)