The race to head the Democratic National Committee is on. The decision of both outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and his presumptive successor Chuck Schumer to endorse the candidacy of Rep. Keith Ellison – one of the few members of Congress to support the candidacy of Bernie Sanders – is a clear sign of mainstream Democrats reading the future’s handwriting on the wall: Sanders received 70 percent of the under-thirty primary vote. The continuing presence of Donna Brazile as DNC Chair, however, does not. Certainly that’s the way Sanders delegates to the Democratic Nominating Convention see it: The response of those delegates to a recent poll on the question, “Should Donna Brazile resign?” was 337 - 13 in favor – 96 percent.
Brazile holds the position on an interim basis, the result of the resignation of permanent chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz that followed upon the WikiLeaks release of documents showing her using her supposed neutral position to aid Hillary Clinton in her nomination battle with Sanders. A subsequent WikiLeaks release has shown Brazile, then a CNN commentator, tipping off Hilary Clinton on questions likely to be posed to her at a CNN-sponsored debate between her and Sanders – a charge Brazile does not dispute, despite claims of neutrality at the time. She has permanently resigned her position with CNN, for which she hadn’t worked since taking the DNC job, and the network’s comments have made it clear that she would have been pushed, had she not chosen to jump. Yet she retains her position at the DNC, presumably until a permanent chair is elected in February or March – unless she resigns, or is asked to leave.
While the support for Ellison’s candidacy in the Senate’s highest Democratic ranks clearly represents a sea change in at least some of the corridors of power, in itself it does guarantee any meaningful change at the DNC. The group, after all, was the source of the bulk of the super delegates whose early and overwhelming support for the widely unpopular Clinton was a crucial factor making her appear to be the party’s inevitable nominee. An organization with the close corporate ties this group has enjoyed in recent years can hardly be expected to shift toward an explicit identification with the interests and struggles of the nation’s working class without an immense among of external prodding – as well as a fair internal process, something sorely lacking during the recent primary season. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, a Clinton supporter who has previously served in the office has also declared his candidacy as chairman, as has former presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, and there may be many others. Allowing Brazile to retain the reins during this process would suggest that the DNC has learned nothing from the election debacle and plans no significant alteration in the way it conducts itself.
The survey of Sanders delegates was conducted by the independent Bernie Delegates Network, which is sponsored by the online activist group RootsAction.org in partnership with Progressive Democrats of America. The group has initiated a nationwide petition calling for Brazile to resign immediately. PDA executive director Donna Smith said, “When the party leadership failed to conduct itself impartially during the primary season and then failed to defeat the Republican candidate who is the most dangerous demagogue ever elected to the presidency, it is time for Donna Brazile's resignation.”