Tom Perez really, really wanted to be DNC Chairman and he had to consolidate a lot of support to land the job in 2017 while fending off a strong challenge from Keith Ellison. These days, however, I have to wonder if he’s beginning to regret taking the position. As Politico reports this week, Perez is increasingly isolated in his job, receiving very little support or cooperation from congressional Democrats as he struggles to manage the Democratic primary process. Dick Durban reportedly described the situation as “the biggest nightmare [Perez] could probably have imagined.” But it’s not just the messy debate format that has Democrats in Congress ticked off.
Tom Perez isn’t facing blowback only over his management of his party’s unruly presidential primary field. He also has 280 constituents in Congress, some of whom are sounding off publicly.
The Democratic National Committee chairman is the face of presidential debate rules that will allow a meditation guru to take the stage next week while a red state Western governor watches on TV. Against that backdrop, a collection of Democratic lawmakers are still aggravated with Perez after he yielded to the party’s base last year and agreed to dilute their power as superdelegates — a problem Perez is still trying to defuse in private meetings with Democrats.
Perez, complained Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, has made Democratic members of Congress “second-class citizens in our convention.”
So there are two chief areas of discontent riling up the Democrats. One of them is the way the debates are being handled, but it seems a bit unfair to lay that entirely at Perez’s feet. A lot of people with sufficient name recognition decided to run. What was he supposed to do about that? I suppose he could have either limited the number of candidates at the debates to a lower number or perhaps raised it even higher. There are problems with both, and I suppose twenty is as reasonable of a number as any.
But the other bee under Democratic bonnets is a subject we covered extensively during the last election cycle. Many of their elected officials and party leaders are still angry about the decision to water down the influence of the superdelegates at the convention next year. In the quoted text above, you’ll note that one Democrat from Virginia complained about Perez turning them into “second class citizens.”
That’s pretty rich in terms of the general level of whining going on. If the Democrats had eliminated the superdelegates entirely (as they should have), they would actually have been turned into “citizens.” You know… like the rest of us? Each person getting one vote and all votes counting for the same amount. Any of this ringing a bell, Congressman Connolly?
Each of the delegates at the convention represents a significant number of people who showed up to vote in the primaries and their vote reflects the wishes of all those citizens. When a superdelegate comes along and casts a vote for a different candidate, their one vote wipes out the votes of thousands. During the 2016 primary, every superdelegate voting for Clinton wiped out more than 10,000 votes cast for Sanders.
And the superdelegates still aren’t entirely gone. They’re just being told to wait until after the first round of voting to see if there is a clear choice as to who the nominee will be. If nobody manages to get a majority, then the superdelegates will once again be invited to step in, put their thumbs on the scales and muscle someone through. That doesn’t sound like the position of a “second class citizen” to me. Quite the opposite, in fact.