Starting today, we will engage all of our members in the selection process of the Chairperson for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). For the next five days we will present you with information about the DNC and the different chair candidates. Our goals are threefold: 1) Increase awareness of the DNC elections, 2) increase engagement in the political process, and 3) increase understanding of the pulse of our constituency.

What is the DNC and what is its purpose?

You want to get involved. You want true equality, fairness, and justice for all in this country. You want to know where to start. The first step is understanding how you can play a major role in shaping the Democratic Party’s aims and goals. Let’s start by understanding how Democrats choose their party leaders. After you understand this, you will recognize how much power you can wield as a grassroots advocate for progressive values.

The Democratic National Committee, or DNC, was created during the Democratic National Convention of 1848. This committee has been responsible for governing the Democratic Party for 167 years, making it the oldest ongoing party committee in the United States. The DNC is governed by its charter and bylaws.

The DNC is responsible for the following:

  • Promoting the Democratic Platform, the statement of core principles at the heart of the Democratic Party
  • Raising money
  • Hiring staff
  • Coordinating strategy to support candidates for local, state, and national offices
  • Working with various constituencies to respond to the needs and views of Democrats across the nation
  • Planning the Party’s presidential nominating convention

The DNC is led by a chairperson and executive committee who are elected every four years and guided by a charter and bylaws that serve as the party’s constitution.  

The 2016 Democratic Platform is considered by some to be the most progressive in the party’s history, judging by commitments to raise income levels, protect women’s reproductive rights, and invest more in clean energy.   

The DNC’s leadership committee includes nine members: the chairperson, five vice chairpersons, a treasurer, a secretary, and a national finance chairperson.  The DNC organizes the party’s presidential nominating convention and supports Democratic candidates running for office throughout the country.

Overall, the DNC works with citizens, groups, and campaigns at the local, state, and national levels to focus on their concerns.  The DNC then coordinates political strategies to address the interests and ideals of the people they represent.

This means the DNC will play a major role in 2018 elections and helping Democrats take back the House. And once you understand how the DNC functions, you’ll see how powerful your voice can be in shaping the future of the Democratic Party and ensuring its future success.

Check out the Democratic  Party’s 2016 Platform

Tell us in the comments section below what you think about the 2016 Democratic Platform.

Go Straight to the Source:

Over the next four days, be on the lookout for posts about the DNC and profiles of each of the DNC candidates running for chair. Please share this information with members of your regional groups. We will be highlighting the following six candidates:

  • Sally Boynton Brown, Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director 
  • Raymond Buckley, former New Hampshire legislator and chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party 
  • Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend Indiana 
  • Keith Ellison, Minnesota U.S. Representative 
  • South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jamie Harrison 
  • Thomas Perez, Labor Secretary

Learn more about the history and evolution of the Democratic Party at Encyclopedia Britannica or DNC HQ

How is the DNC chair chosen?

Now that you know what the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) is, let’s examine how its leader is chosen. The DNC chair is chosen by the DNC’s members, all of whom are empowered with the right to vote for the party’s officers.

The  DNC leader, or chairperson, is elected by the majority of its 447 voting members every four years, right after the presidential election.  If there is a Democratic president or president-elect, then DNC members traditionally vote for whomever the president chooses. The DNC members then automatically lend their support when the time comes to vote.

Since the Democratic Party lost the 2016 presidential election, many contenders have come forward to compete for the DNC leadership.  The chairperson and other officers will be chosen the weekend of February 24th, 2017.  Viable candidates for the 2017 DNC Chair are: Sally Boynton Brown, Ray Buckley, Keith Ellison, Jaime Harrison, and Tom Perez [Note: make this consistent with the candidates we are covering?].

While these campaigns are technically public, complete with big-name endorsements and debates, they are largely aimed at the DNC members themselves. After all, only the DNC members have voting power.

So, who are these voting DNC members?

In part, the voting DNC members are chosen by you—if you vote and are active in your local Democratic Party, that is.  About 70% of DNC members are chosen by the various state chapters of the Democratic Party.  So if you get involved with your local chapter, then you might find yourself voting for a future DNC member or chair.

This is how DNC membership is assigned:

  • Two DNC member slots go to the Democratic Party chairs and vice chairs from each of our 56 states and territories, for 112 total slots.   
  • 208 slots go to the various state parties to fill and 4 slots go to Democrats abroad.  Each state Democratic Party has its own rules for selecting its DNC members. Some members are elected on the ballot as part of the state’s Democratic primary, and in other states the members are elected by state’s Democratic Committee or Convention.
  • 75 slots are appointed by the DNC chair and approved by DNC members.  These appointees include notable Democrats, party operatives, government relations professionals, and the bigwigs of special interest groups.
  • 48 slots go to different national Democratic groups including governors, county officials, municipal officials, state legislators, state treasurers, and constituencies.

Most states elect their DNC members at the same time they nominate their presidential convention delegates.  Not surprisingly, many DNC members also end up as the presidential delegates who cast votes in the electoral college.

When do they vote?

The 447 members of the DNC will meet to vote on the weekend that begins on February 24th, 2017. The DNC charter calls for the election of the chair and other leadership officers by a majority vote. The majority share of 447 is 224, so that’s the magic number.

The DNC chair election and YOU

The Democratic Party does want Democratic supporters to make their voices heard by voicing their opinions to the DNC’s current 447 voting members.  You can go to the Democratic Party website and tell them what you think.  

You can hear from the candidates for chair and other offices before the DNC meeting in February during four regional forums.  These are the first DNC officer election forums that Democrats have had in over ten years and are scheduled as follows:

  •         January 13–14: Phoenix, AZ
  •         January 27–28: Houston, TX
  •         February 3–4: Detroit, MI
  •         February 10–11: Baltimore, MD

More information about the regional forums will be available soon.  You can sign up here if you want the DNC to email you when it’s time to RSVP.  If you cannot attend, you can livestream the forums on the Democrat YouTube channel

Also, on January 18, 2017, the Huffington Post will hold a debate between the five DNC Chair candidates at George Washington University and broadcast it live on Facebook.  Go here for more information on this debate: Huffington Post

Check out our Sources for this News Brief:

Go straight to the source at DNC HQ  or DNC

Vox provides a fantastic breakdown of how the 447 DNC members are chosen.  We highly recommend the full article