Democratic National Committee
FoundedMay 26, 1848; 175 years ago (1848-05-26)
Location
Key people
AffiliationsDemocratic Party
Websitedemocrats.org

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the principal committee of the United States Democratic Party. The committee coordinates strategy to support Democratic Party candidates throughout the country for local, state, and national office, as well as works to establish a "party brand".[1] It organizes the Democratic National Convention held every four years to nominate candidates for President and Vice President of the United States and to formulate the party platform. While it provides support for party candidates, it does not have direct authority over elected officials.[2] When a Democrat is president, the White House controls the Committee. According to Boris Heersink, "political scientists have traditionally described the parties’ national committees as inconsequential but impartial service providers."[3][4]

Its chair is elected by the committee. It conducts fundraising to support its activities.[2]

The DNC was established on May 26, 1848, at that year's Democratic National Convention.[5][6] The DNC's main counterpart is the Republican National Committee.

Role and organization

The DNC is responsible for articulating and promoting the Democratic platform and coordinating party organizational activity. When the president is a Democrat, the party generally works closely with the president. In presidential elections, it supervises the national convention and, both independently and in coordination with the presidential candidate, raises funds, commissions polls, and coordinates campaign strategy. Following the selection of a party nominee, the public funding laws permit the national party to coordinate certain expenditures with the nominee, but additional funds are spent on general, party-building activities.[7] There are state committees in every state, as well as local committees in most cities, wards, and towns (and, in most states, counties).

The chairperson of the DNC is elected by vote of members of the Democratic National Committee.[8]: 5  The DNC is composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party's central committee, two hundred members apportioned among the states based on population and generally elected either on the ballot by primary voters or by the state Democratic Party committee, a number of elected officials serving in an ex officio capacity, and a variety of representatives of major Democratic Party constituencies.

Chicago delegation to the January 8, 1912 Democratic National Committee

The DNC establishes rules for the caucuses and primaries which choose delegates to the Democratic National Convention, but the caucuses and primaries themselves are most often run not by the DNC but instead by each individual state. Primary elections, in particular, are invariably conducted by state governments according to their own laws. Political parties may choose to participate or not participate in a state's primary election, but no political party executives have any jurisdiction over the dates of primary elections, or how they are conducted.[citation needed]

All DNC members are superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention, and their role can affect the outcome over a close primary race only if no candidate receives a majority of pledged delegates.[9] These delegates, officially described as "unpledged party leader and elected official delegates," fall into three categories based on other positions they hold:[10]

Current Leadership

In 2021, Jaime Harrison was selected by President Joe Biden to Chair the Democratic National Committee, and his nomination was approved by its members.[11]

In addition, a National Advisory Board exists for purposes of fundraising and advising the executive. The present chair is Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal.

Chairs of the Democratic National Committee

List of Democratic National Committee chairs
Officeholder Term State[17]
Benjamin Hallett 1848–1852 Massachusetts
Robert McLane 1852–1856 Maryland
David Smalley 1856–1860 Vermont
August Belmont 1860–1872 New York
Augustus Schell 1872–1876 New York
Abram Hewitt 1876–1877 New York
William Barnum 1877–1889 Connecticut
Calvin Brice 1889–1892 Ohio
William Harrity 1892–1896 Pennsylvania
James Jones 1896–1904 Arkansas
Thomas Taggart 1904–1908 Indiana
Norman Mack 1908–1912 New York
William McCombs 1912–1916 New York
Vance McCormick 1916–1919 Pennsylvania
Homer Cummings 1919–1920 Connecticut
George White 1920–1921 Ohio
Cordell Hull 1921–1924 Tennessee
Clem Shaver 1924–1928 West Virginia
John Raskob 1928–1932 New York
James Farley 1932–1940 New York
Edward Flynn 1940–1943 New York
Frank Walker 1943–1944 Pennsylvania
Robert Hannegan 1944–1947 Missouri
Howard McGrath 1947–1949 Rhode Island
William Boyle 1949–1951 Missouri
Frank McKinney 1951–1952 Indiana
Stephen Mitchell 1952–1955 Illinois
Paul Butler 1955–1960 Indiana
Scoop Jackson 1960–1961 Washington
John Bailey 1961–1968 Connecticut
Larry O'Brien 1968–1969 Massachusetts
Fred Harris 1969–1970 Oklahoma
Larry O'Brien 1970–1972 Massachusetts
Jean Westwood 1972 Utah
Bob Strauss 1972–1977 Texas
Kenneth Curtis 1977–1978 Maine
John White 1978–1981 Texas
Charles Manatt 1981–1985 California
Paul Kirk 1985–1989 Massachusetts
Ron Brown 1989–1993 New York
David Wilhelm 1993–1994 Ohio
Debra DeLee 1994–1995 Massachusetts
Chris Dodd (General Chair) 1995–1997 Connecticut
Don Fowler (National Chair) South Carolina
Roy Romer (General Chair) 1997–1999 Colorado
Steve Grossman (National Chair) Massachusetts
Ed Rendell (General Chair) 1999–2001 Pennsylvania
Joe Andrew (National Chair) Indiana
Terry McAuliffe 2001–2005 Virginia
Howard Dean 2005–2009 Vermont
Tim Kaine 2009–2011 Virginia
Donna Brazile (Acting) 2011 Louisiana
Debbie Wasserman Schultz 2011–2016 Florida
Donna Brazile (Acting) 2016–2017 Louisiana
Tom Perez 2017–2021 Maryland
Jaime Harrison 2021–present South Carolina
Source:[18]

Deputy Chairs

The Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee was re-established by Tom Perez in February 2017 after his win in the 2017 DNC Chair race.

After a close victory over Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, Perez appointed Ellison as Deputy Chair in an attempt to lessen the divide in the Democratic Party after the contentious 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, which saw conflicts between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.[19] Perez was seen as being more in line with the Clinton wing, while Ellison was more in line with the Sanders wing.[20] The role's revival in 2017 has been described by critics as largely titular and ceremonial.[21]

On November 8, 2018, Ellison resigned from the position due to his win in the Minnesota Attorney General election.[22] The position remains unoccupied.

Officeholder Term State
Evan Dobelle Evan Dobelle[23][24] 1980–1981 Massachusetts
Alexis Herman Alexis Herman[25] 1989–1992 Alabama
Ben Johnson[26][27] 2003–2005 Maryland
Mike Honda Mike Honda 2003–2005 California
Susan Turnbull Susan Turnbull 2003–2005 Maryland
Keith Ellison Keith Ellison 2017–2018[28] Minnesota

Treasurers of the Democratic National Committee

List of Democratic National Committee Treasurers
Officeholder Term State
Charles J. Canda Charles J. Canda[29][30] 1875–1892 New York
Robert B. Roosevelt Robert B. Roosevelt[31][32] 1892–1896 New York
William P. St. Cloud William P. St. John[33][34] 1896–1897 New York
James L. Norris James L. Norris[35][36] 1897–1900 District of Columbia
Millard Fillmore Dunlap Millard Fillmore Dunlap[36][37] 1900–1904 Illinois
George Foster Peabody George Foster Peabody[38][39] 1904–1906 New York
August Belmont[40][41] 1906–1908
William H. O'Brien[41] 1908 Indiana
Charles N. Haskell Charles N. Haskell[42][43] 1908 Oklahoma
Herman Ridder Herman Ridder[43][44] 1908–1912 New York
Rolla Wells Rolla Wells[45][46] 1912–1916 Missouri
Wilbur W. Marsh, c. 1916–1920 Wilbur W. Marsh[47][48] 1916–1924 Iowa
James W. Gerard James W. Gerard[49][50] 1924–1932 New York
Frank C. Walker Frank C. Walker[51][52] 1932–1934 New York
Walter J. Cummings Walter J. Cummings[53][54] 1934–1936 Illinois
W. Forbes Morgan W. Forbes Morgan[54] 1936–1937 New Hampshire
Oliver A. Quayle Jr[55][56] 1937–1941 District of Columbia
R. J. Reynolds Jr.[56][57] 1941–1942 North Carolina
Edwin W. Pauley[58][59] 1942–1945 California
George Killion[60][61] 1945–1947 California
Joe L. Blythe[62][63] 1948–1949 North Carolina
Mary C. Zirkle (acting)[64][65] 1949–1950 Washington
Sidney Salomon Jr[65][66] 1950–1951 Missouri
Roy J. Turner Roy J. Turner[67][68] 1951–1952 Oklahoma
Dwight R. G. Palmer[69][70] 1952–1953 New York
Stanley Woodward Stanley Woodward[71][72] 1953–1955 Virginia
Matthew McCloskey Matthew H. McCloskey[73][74] 1955–1962 Pennsylvania
Richard MaGuire[75][76] 1962–1965 Indiana
Clifton C. Carter (acting)[76][77] 1965–1966 District of Columbia
John Criswell (acting)[78][79] 1966–1968 Oklahoma
Robert E. Short Robert E. Short (acting)[80][81] 1968–1969 Minnesota
Patrick J. O'Connor (acting)[81][82] 1969–1970 Minnesota
Robert S. Strauss Robert S. Strauss[82][83] 1970–1972 Texas
Donald Petrie[84][85] 1972
Howard Weingrow[85][86] 1972 New York
C. Peter McColough C. Peter McColough[87][88] 1973–1974 New York
Edward Bennett Williams Edward Bennett Williams[89] 1974–1977 District of Columbia
Joel McCleary[90][91] 1977–1978 North Carolina
Evan Dobelle Evan Dobelle[92][93] 1978–1979 Massachusetts
Peter G. Kelly[94][95] 1979–1981 Connecticut
Charles Curry[95][96] 1981–1983 Missouri
Paul G. Kirk Paul G. Kirk[97][98] 1983–1985 Massachusetts
Sharon Pratt Dixon Sharon Pratt Dixon[98][99] 1985–1989 District of Columbia
Robert Farmer[100][101] 1989–1991
Robert T. Matsui Robert T. Matsui[102][103] 1991–1995 California
R. Scott Pastrick[104] 1995–1997 Maryland
Carol Pensky[105][106] 1997–1999
Andrew Tobias Andrew Tobias[106] 1999–2017
Bill Derrough[107][108] 2017–2021 California
Virginia McGregor[109] 2021–present Virginia

Controversies

Watergate

Main article: Watergate scandal

In the 1970s, the DNC had its head office, located in the Watergate complex at the time, burglarized by entities working for Richard Nixon's administration during the Watergate scandal.

Chinagate

Main article: 1996 United States campaign finance controversy

Chinagate was an alleged effort by the People's Republic of China to influence domestic American politics prior to and during the Clinton administration.[110] In 2002, the Federal Election Commission fined the Democratic National Committee $115,000 for its part in fundraising violations in 1996.[111]

Cyber attacks

Main article: Democratic National Committee cyber attacks

Debbie Wasserman Schultz served as DNC chair from 2011 to 2016.

Cyber attacks and hacks were claimed by or attributed to various individual and groups such as:

2016 email leak

Main article: 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak

See also: Wilding v. DNC Services Corp.

On July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks released approximately 20,000 DNC emails.[121] Critics claimed that the Committee unequally favored Hillary Clinton and acted in support of her nomination while opposing the candidacy of her primary challenger Bernie Sanders. Donna Brazile corroborated these allegations in an excerpt of her book published by Politico in November 2017.[122] The leaked emails spanned sixteen months, terminating in May 2016.[123]

The WikiLeaks releases led to the resignations of Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Communications Director Luis Miranda, Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall and Chief Executive Amy Dacey.[124] After she resigned, Wasserman Schultz put out a statement about possible FBI assistance in investigating the hacking and leaks, saying that "the DNC was never contacted by the FBI or any other agency concerned about these intrusions."[125] During a Senate hearing in January 2017, James Comey testified that the FBI requested access to the DNC's servers, but its request was denied. He also testified that old versions of the Republican National Committee's servers were breached, but then-current databases were unaffected.[126]

The DNC subsequently filed a lawsuit in federal court against WikiLeaks and others alleging a conspiracy to influence the election.[127]

History

The DNC has existed since 1848.[128] During the 1848 Democratic National Convention, a resolution was passed creating the Democratic National Committee, composed of thirty members, one person per state, chosen by the states' delegations, and chaired by Benjamin F. Hallett.[129]

In order to strengthen the national party organization, Franklin Roosevelt proposed in 1925 that the DNC should open a permanent headquarters in order to function "every day in every year" and exist on a "business-like financial basis." In 1929, John Raskob led the creation of the first permanent national headquarters for the DNC in Washington, DC.[130]

See also

References

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Further reading