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"Clearly the Democratic Party needs a top-down overhaul," Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) said Wednesday. (Photo: Scott P/flickr/cc)

As Perez Shakes Up Staff, Sanders Urges 'Total' Overhaul for Democratic Party

'It has got to become a grassroots party,' Sanders said

Andrea Germanos

The Democratic National Committee's newly-installed chair, Tom Perez, has asked for the resignations of all the organization's staffers—a reorganization Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says is "absolutely" needed.

The call for the resignations, with a deadline of April 15, comes "as the DNC attempts a makeover following the 2016 election cycle that left many in the party jaded not only about Democrats' electoral prospects, but the party's campaign competency" as Slate puts it.

The development was expected. CNN writes:

"This is longstanding precedent at the DNC and has happened during multiple chair transitions," DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said. "The process was started before the election of the new chair. From the beginning, Tom has been adamant that we structure the DNC for future campaigns. Current and future DNC staff will be integral to that effort."

NBC News adds:

Immediately after Perez' election in late February, [an] adviser to outgoing DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile, Leah Daughtry, asked every employee to submit a letter of resignation dated April 15, according to multiple sources familiar with the party's internal working.

A review committee is already underway looking at new potential staffers "to help decide not only who will stay and who will go, but how the party should be structured in the future," NBC News writes. And that transition committee's make-up, as the Washington Post's PowerPost blog wrote earlier this month, is being met with skepticism by some Sanders backers. 

A full overhaul is exactly Sen. Bernie Saners, (I-Vt.) who had backed Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in the DNC race, thinks is in order.

Speaking Wednesday to MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Sanders, who sits on the leadership of the Senate Democrats, charged that it is "absolutely" necessary. 

"I mean the evidence is obvious" the party has failed, he said. "It's not just that we've lost the White House and the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. We've lost 900 legislative seats in the last 8 or 9 years."

"So clearly the Democratic Party needs a top-down overhaul. And that top-down overhaul means that instead of becoming dependent and being dependent on big money interests for campaign contributions, it has got to become a grassroots party," he continued.

The comments echo those he made in the wake of the DNC vote when he said he hoped Perez wold seize the "real opportunity in his hands[...] which is to understand that in fact, the way the Democratic Party has been run for decades has not worked. We need a total transformation."

That appears to be something Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) sees as well.

NBC News notes that Perez held a meeting with his deputy chair as well as Sanders, Schumer, and several others to flush out the roles of the DNC's five vice chairs. The outlet wrote:

Schumer, pointing to Ellison and Sanders, told Perez, "If he's happy, and if he's happy, then I'm happy," according to two sources.


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