It could, and should, have been a minor news item; the Democratic National Committee announced a “transition team” as new chair Tom Perez consolidated control.
But as Democrats keep finding out, any move inside the party is watched by some supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for evidence of betrayal. The 29-member transition team was scoured for supporters of Rep. Keith Ellison’s (D-Minn.) bid against Perez — a campaign in which fewer than 440 people voted — and found wanting. The list’s only high-profile supporter of Sanders was Pramila Jayapal, a new member of Congress from Washington.
“Putting one person who supported Bernie Sanders on your list — it’s a slap in the face,” said Cenk Uygur, the host of the progressive web news series The Young Turks, on a Thursday episode. “We gave the most popular politician in the country one vote, what more do you want?”
Earlier in 2017, Uygur launched “Justice Democrats,” a project designed to replace “corporate” incumbents with primary challengers. And TYT’s chief correspondent on the DNC race, Nomiki Konst, is a member of the more diversified “unity commission,” tasked with reforming party rules ahead of the 2020 primaries — a priority of Sanders.
In statements, Perez and Ellison tried to cool off the accusations of bad faith.
“The transition advisory committee is just a start to the broader transition efforts,” said Perez spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa. “Over the weeks to come, Tom Perez and DNC leadership will continue meeting with key stakeholders in our big tent party, including progressive leaders, labor and experts in various fields to discuss priorities for the DNC, grassroots organizing, reaching key voters who were left behind this last election, and raising the resources needed to succeed.”
Ellison told the Huffington Post that he was proud to see a few allies on the committee, and on Twitter, he criticized progressives who were prioritizing party purity while President Trump was introducing an austere budget.
Regardless of your spin of HRC, she would never cut Meals on Wheels, CDBG, Weatherization Assistance, LIHEAP, Nat'l Endowment Arts, Big Bird https://t.co/wq681G0gYT
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) March 16, 2017
Can't understand why some (thank goodness only a few) people have a bigger beef with HRC than Trump. I just don't get it.
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) March 16, 2017
The list includes Sally Boynton Brown and Pete Buttigieg, two Perez rivals who made no endorsement after they lost their DNC chair bids; Jehmu Greene, who endorsed Perez after losing her DNC bid; Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan; and Mark Begich, the former senator from Alaska.
And it’s the Begich role that especially rankles some on the left. As first reported by McClatchy, Begich helped organize a secret summit with centrist and red state Democrats; meeting in Denver, they decided that “security, opportunity, compassion and results” were the values that united Democrats.
That talk clunks with many on the left, who believe that Democratic opposition to Trump is weaker when it doesn’t adopt Sanders’s message and policies. And that attitude clashes with the one behind the transition team, which is heavy on labor organizers and key party interest groups.
But on Friday evening, Sanders campaign veteran Melissa Byrne, who ran for DNC vice chair, said that she had gotten a call that reflected the discussion about who was and wasn’t part of the DNC.
“A few hours ago, I was asked to join the DNC transition working group,” Byrne wrote on Facebook. “I said yes immediately.”
And an updated press release reported that Nebraska Democratic Party chair Jane Kleeb, a Sanders supporter and Ellison supporter, was added to the committee.
The rest of the original committee members:
Gus Bickford. The new chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, who, as a superdelegate, backed Clinton for president.
Rev. Leah Daughtry. Hired by Clinton’s campaign to help run the transition, which obviously never took place.
Bill Dempsey. The CFO at SEIU; he made no 2016 endorsement.
Akilah Ensley. A Young Democrats of America activist who endorsed Clinton in 2016.
Don Fowler. A former South Carolina party chair who backed Clinton, but made the most news in 2016 for demanding a contingency plan if, for reason of health or scandal, she had to quit the race.
Luis Heredia. A committeeman from Arizona who backed Perez for DNC chair and attended the 2016 convention as a Clinton delegate.
Pramila Jayapal. A new congresswoman from Washington state, who was backed by Sanders’s group Our Revolution.
Latoia Jones. An African-American organizer with the American Federation of Teachers, who ran for DNC vice chair.
Rebecca Lambe. An organizer with the Nevada Democratic Party, the most successful in the country in 2016 (relative to 2014 performance.)
Bel Leong-Hong. A national DNC committeewoman who backed Clinton for president.
Terry Lierman. A former Maryland Democratic Party chair who endorsed Perez.
Chris Lu. A Perez deputy at the Department of Labor who also presided over the 2008-2009 Obama transition.
Mary Beth Maxwell. The senior VP of the major lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign.
Zerlina Maxwell. An activist who became Hillary Clinton’s director of progressive media.
Deray McKesson. A Maryland-based Black Lives Matter activist.
Ademola Oyefeso. Director of the Legislative and Political Action Department at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
Rick Palacio. The outgoing chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, who ran for DNC vice chair.
Ai-Jen Poo. The director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Rion Ramirez. The chair of the DNC Native American Council.
Astrid Silva. A DREAMer increasingly involved in party messaging; she gave the Spanish language response to the president’s joint address to Congress.
Rick Wade. A DNC member from South Carolina, who backed Clinton.
Simone Ward. The political director of the DSCC in the 2016 cycle, a disappointing year that saw the party gain just two seats after aiming for at least five.
Brian Weeks. The political director of AFSCME; while its president backed Clinton, Weeks himself backed Ellison for chair.
Jenny Wilson. A Utah DNC member who backed Clinton.