DNC Chair decides to go to war with state Democratic parties

Tom Perez is keeping himself busy as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee as he gears up for the 2020 elections. So who is he fighting with now? Donald Trump? Mitch McConnell? Perhaps his counterpart at the RNC, Ronna Romney McDaniel? No, those would all be boring, expected targets. Perez has instead decided to start a fight with the state Democratic parties who will have to do the majority of the work if Democrats want to score additional big wins two years from now. (Politico)

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez launched an attack on his own party’s state organizations Saturday with a long and angry email over the future of the party’s most valuable asset — its voter data file.

Just days before an important Tuesday meeting in D.C. on the future of the data operation, Perez sharply criticized a new proposal from state party leaders and singled out prominent state officials by name.

“For some inexplicable reason, this proposal would tear down just about everything about our current data structure, reversing so much of the progress we made over the past decade,” Perez wrote.

This dustup may appear strange on the surface, but it’s actually part of a trend that’s been taking shape for a number of years. Political analysts often credit Barack Obama’s campaign success to the extensive data handling operation they put together. Obama’s team rolled up data on voters and donors from all across the nation to maximize their fundraising and get out the vote efforts and it paid off in a big way.

Perez appears to be trying to continue that success at the national level by harvesting all possible data from the state parties and using it to channel resources toward the party’s 2020 candidates. The problem is that at least some of the state parties see this arrangement as something of a one-way street, with not enough help coming back to the local teams. One highlight of this seemingly legitimate complaint is that the DNC is running a “for profit” database, charging local groups and candidates for using those resources, but not paying the sources they harvest the data from.

Ken Martin, president of the Association of State Democratic Committees, seems to be particularly perplexed by what Perez is doing.

“The reality is the state parties own the voter file. At the end of the day, we hope to move forward with the DNC, but if the DNC continues down this path, we’re just not interested in that,” Martin told POLITICO. “It’s clear that the DNC is not interested in any other proposals or in negotiating.”

If Perez is going to stick with a “my way or the highway” approach to managing their massive data trove, he may wind up looking rather lonely over the next couple of years. That would just be a darned shame, wouldn’t it?

This episode, aside from providing a reason to heat up some popcorn, could serve as a good reminder to the RNC. The Democrats swept well ahead of Republicans in 2008 and 2012 when it came to managing large voter and donor data banks. They’re obviously still hitting that effort for all they’re worth. The GOP can’t afford to fall behind in the Big Data battle, but they also need to treat the state parties with respect.