To this day, many Democratic Party officials still fume about Barack Obama’s decision to create his own political group outside of the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for Action, POLITICO writes.
Now they’ve ensured it won’t happen again if a Democrat wins the White House in 2020. The Association of State Democratic Committees announced Tuesday that every leading presidential contender has vowed not to create “any organizing or messaging infrastructure that is parallel or duplicative” to the DNC or state parties.
The signed pledge also binds candidates to publicly call on their supporters not to launch outside groups on their behalf, POLITICO adds.
It’s an enormous change for the party, one that will likely strengthen the DNC and state parties after what many Democrats considered neglect of the party infrastructure during the Obama years. It also throws into question the future of Our Revolution, the Bernie Sanders-created grass-roots organization, which state party leaders say would appear to violate the agreement if Sanders wins the general election.
“It’s a huge shift,” said Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party. The move sends two messages, she added: “You cannot create another OFA,” and “the DNC is an important national infrastructure, but it’s not in the states – we are.”
“[State parties] are never the shiny object that gets funded with all the appeals from podcasts or big donors,” Kleeb added.
Organizing for Action, the political group that grew out of Obama’s first presidential run, decentralized power from the DNC by building a parallel infrastructure that competed for donors. It was a move that many state party chairs loathed, and in the years since have faulted for Democrats’ losses at the gubernatorial and statehouse level.
“It wasn’t helpful to the political work that needs to get done in building a bench,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “We have a political tool in the state parties and the president should use them.”
The pledge, signed by Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and 16 other contenders, requires candidates to use state parties as their organizing, messaging and political arm should they become their party’s nominee. Many state parties are run by full-time and unpaid chairs who are expected to recruit, train and get candidates elected. But many have few resources at their disposal, and the deal announced Tuesday will be an attempt to fix that, POLITICO notes.