2017 Democratic National Committee chairmanship election

The 2017 Democratic National Committee chairmanship election was held on February 25, 2017 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta to determine the next chairperson of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).[1][2][3] It was the first contested DNC chair election since 1985.

Tom Perez and Keith Ellison emerged as the favored candidates of the majority of DNC members. Other candidates included Sally Boynton Brown, Pete Buttigieg, Sam Ronan and Jehmu Greene. Perez was elected chairperson after two rounds of voting.

Democratic National Committee chairmanship election, 2017
US Democratic Party Logo.svg
February 25, 2017[1]

435 members of the DNC who voted
218 votes needed to win
  Tom Perez (cropped) Keith Ellison portrait (cropped)
Candidate Tom Perez Keith Ellison
Caucus vote 235 200
Percentage 54% 46%

Chair before election

Donna Brazile (interim)

Elected Chair

Tom Perez


Following the 2016 DNC email leak, which suggested that the DNC leadership showed clear favor to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential primary, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as DNC Chairwoman, and was succeeded on an interim basis by Donna Brazile.[4]

Brazile announced that she would not run for a full term.[5] With no president to select a chair, this became the first contested DNC chair election since 1985.[6] A DNC executive committee meeting took place in December to provide further procedural clarity into the race, though the election itself was to be held at the DNC's Winter Meeting in late February 2017.[1] The 448 DNC members were the sole voting members. A quarter of the members were state level chairs and vice chairs; the remainder had been elected at the state level. To be elected as chair, a simple majority of votes was required.[7]


  • July 28, 2016 – Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigns as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee; Donna Brazile appointed as interim Chairman.
  • Mid–December – Meeting of the executive board of the Democratic National Committee.
  • February 23–26, 2017 – Election to be held by party voting members at the DNC's Winter Meeting[1] (election must be held on or before March 31, 2017)
    • 2:28 p.m. ET, February 25, 2017 – First round of voting is concluded: Tom Perez received 213.5 votes, Keith Ellison got 200. (214.5 votes required to win the first round.)[8]
    • 3:20 p.m. ET, February 25, 2017 – Tom Perez is elected the chair of the DNC after the second round of voting. Perez motioned for Keith Ellison to be elected as Deputy Chairman of the DNC, which was approved by unanimous voice vote.


Calling for a return to the fifty-state strategy, Howard Dean, a former Governor of Vermont who served as chairman of the DNC from 2005 to 2009, announced his candidacy on November 10.[9] Citing the potential for a divisive race, Dean withdrew himself from consideration on December 2.[10]

Keith Ellison, U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district, announced his candidacy on November 14.[11] That day, South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison also declared himself a candidate.[12] New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley declared his candidacy on November 29.[13] On December 16, 2016, Sally Boynton Brown, Executive Director of the Idaho Democratic Party, announced her candidacy.[14]

After meeting with DNC members, Ellison announced on December 7 that he would resign his seat in the House of Representatives if elected DNC chair, so that he could focus his full attention on the job.[15] One week later, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced his candidacy.[16] On February 1, former Vice President Joe Biden publicly offered his support for Perez.[17] South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced his candidacy on January 5, 2017.[18] Fox News analyst Jehmu Greene announced her candidacy on January 12, 2017.[19]

Another possible candidate was Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona.[20] Former California Assembly Speaker John Pérez contemplated a run,[21] but first decided instead to run for Congress,[22] then withdrew from that for health reasons.[23] Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, once considered a potential candidate, took herself out of consideration.[5] Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said that he was "taking a hard look" at running for DNC chairman,[24] but decided not to run.[25] Ilyse Hogue, the President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Representative Steve Israel of New York announced that they would not run.[26][27][28] DNC Vice-Chair R. T. Rybak considered a run, but was listed as an endorser of Ellison, when he announced his candidacy.[29]

Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Representative John Lewis, Former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer publicly supported Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[5][30][31][32] MoveOn.org, led by Ilya Sheyman, has also expressed support for Ellison[5], along with Progressive Democrats Of America.

Declared candidates

Withdrew prior to balloting


Forums and debates

The candidates participated in regional forums in Phoenix, Arizona on January 13 and 14, in Houston, Texas, on January 27 and 28, in Detroit, Michigan on February 3 and 4, and in Baltimore, Maryland on February 10 and 11.[46] They participated in two debates: the first at George Washington University, hosted by The Huffington Post, on January 18[47] and the second in Atlanta, sponsored and aired nationally by CNN, on February 22.[48]


With 447 voting members of the DNC, 224 votes were expected to be needed to win the chairmanship.[137] However, only 427 members voted in the first round (Chairperson Donna Brazile and two other members present did not vote, and one abstained), so only 214.5 votes were required to reach the threshold for victory. In the first round, Perez received 213.5 votes, while Ellison received 200, Boynton Brown received 12, Buttigieg received one, and Greene received 0.5.[34][a]

After the first round, Greene dropped out and endorsed Perez, while Peckarsky and Ronan dropped out and endorsed Ellison. Boynton Brown withdrew without endorsing a candidate. In the second round, 435 votes were cast: 235 for Tom Perez and 200 for Keith Ellison.[138] After Perez won, he selected Ellison as deputy chair.[139]

Election Results: Though the DNC refuses to publicly post the vote tally, the results may be obtained through an email from the DNC. http://progressivearmy.com/2017/03/04/dnc-no-plans-publicly-post-officer-election-roll-call-tally/

Candidate Round 1 Round 2
Pete Buttigieg 1 Withdrew
Sally Boynton Brown 12 Withdrew
Keith Ellison 200 200
Jehmu Greene 0.5 Withdrew
Peter Peckarsky 0 Withdrew
Tom Perez 213.5 235
Sam Ronan 0 Withdrew
No vote 2 0
Abstain 1 0
     Candidate secured enough votes to win election
     Candidate secured a plurality of votes in the round
     Candidate withdrew

See also


  1. ^ While DNC members received a full vote, Democrats Abroad had half of a vote.[34]


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External links

2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries

The 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries and caucuses will be a series of electoral contests organized by the Democratic Party to select the approximately 3,768 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention, who by pledged votes shall elect the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The elections are scheduled to take place from February to June 2020, within all fifty U.S. states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories, and Democrats Abroad. An extra 764 unpledged delegates (superdelegates), including party leaders and elected officials, will be appointed by the party leadership independently of the primary's electoral process; but their influence towards electing the presidential nominee has been significantly reduced after the DNC decided to remove their voting rights for the first ballot at the convention. The convention also approves the party's political platform and vice-presidential nominee.

As of May 2019, a total of 25 major candidates have entered the race to be elected as the Democratic Party presidential nominee, of which so far only one (Ojeda) opted to withdraw before the first official debates. This is the largest presidential primary field for any political party in American history, eclipsing the 17 major candidates of the 2016 Republican Party presidential primaries.

History of the United States Democratic Party

The Democratic Party is the oldest voter-based political party in the world and the oldest existing political party in the United States, tracing its heritage back to the anti-Federalists and the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican Party of the 1790s. During the Second Party System (from 1832 to the mid-1850s) under Presidents Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren and James K. Polk, the Democrats usually bested the opposition Whig Party by narrow margins. Both parties worked hard to build grassroots organizations and maximize the turnout of voters, which often reached 80 percent or 90 percent of eligible voters. Both parties used patronage extensively to finance their operations, which included emerging big city political machines as well as national networks of newspapers. The party was a proponent for slave-owners across the country, urban workers and caucasian immigrants.

From 1860 to 1932 in the era of the American Civil War to the Great Depression, the opposing Republican Party, organized in the mid-1850s from the ruins of the Whig Party and some other smaller splinter groups, was dominant in presidential politics. The Democrats elected only two Presidents to four terms of office for twenty-two years, namely Grover Cleveland (in 1884 and 1892) and Woodrow Wilson (in 1912 and 1916).

Over the same period, the Democrats proved more competitive with the Republicans in Congressional politics, enjoying House of Representatives majorities (as in the 65th Congress) in 15 of the 36 Congresses elected, although only in five of these did they form the majority in the Senate. Furthermore, the Democratic Party was split between the Bourbon Democrats, representing Eastern business interests; and the agrarian elements comprising poor farmers in the South and West. The agrarian element, marching behind the slogan of free silver (i.e. in favor of inflation), captured the party in 1896 and nominated William Jennings Bryan in the 1896, 1900 and 1908 presidential elections, although he lost every time. Both Bryan and Wilson were leaders of the progressive movement in the United States (1890s–1920s).

Starting with 32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 during the Great Depression, the party dominated the Fifth Party System, with its progressive liberal policies and programs with the New Deal coalition to combat the emergency bank closings and the continuing financial depression since the famous Wall Street Crash of 1929 and later going into the crises leading up to World War II. The Democrats and the Democratic Party finally lost the White House and control of the executive branch of government only after Roosevelt's death in April 1945 near the end of the war and after the continuing post-war administration of Roosevelt's third Vice President Harry S. Truman, former Senator from Missouri (for 1945 to 1953, elections of 1944 and the "stunner" of 1948). A new Republican Party President was only elected later in the following decade of the early 1950s with the losses by two-time nominee, the Governor of Illinois Adlai Stevenson (grandson of the former Vice President with the same name of the 1890s) to the very popular war hero and commanding general in World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower (in 1952 and 1956).

With two brief interruptions since the Great Depression and World War II eras, the Democrats with unusually large majorities for over four decades, controlled the lower house of the Congress in the House of Representatives from 1930 until 1994 and the Senate for most of that same period, electing the Speaker of the House and the Representatives' majority leaders/committee chairs along with the upper house of the Senate's majority leaders and committee chairmen. Important Democratic progressive/liberal leaders included 33rd and 36th Presidents Harry S. Truman of Missouri (1945–1953) and Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas (1963–1969), respectively; and the earlier Kennedy brothers of 35th President John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts (1961–1963), Senators Robert F. Kennedy of New York and Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts who carried the flag for modern American liberalism. Since the presidential election of 1976, Democrats have won five out of the last eleven presidential elections, winning in the presidential elections of 1976 (with 39th President Jimmy Carter of Georgia, 1977–1981), 1992 and 1996 (with 42nd President Bill Clinton of Arkansas, 1993–2001) and 2008 and 2012 (with 44th President Barack Obama of Illinois, 2009–2017). Democrats have also won the popular vote in 2000 and 2016, but lost the Electoral College with Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, respectively. The 1876 and 1888 elections were other two presidential elections in which Democrats won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College (the Democrats candidates were Samuel J. Tilden and Grover Cleveland). Social scientists Theodore Caplow et al. argue that "the Democratic party, nationally, moved from left-center toward the center in the 1940s and 1950s, then moved further toward the right-center in the 1970s and 1980s".

Sally Boynton Brown (withdrew)
DNC Members
  • Christine Pelosi. Political strategist
Raymond Buckley (withdrew)
U.S. Senators
U.S. Representatives
State and Local Politicians
  • California State Assemblyman Evan Low[50]
  • New Hampshire State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark[50]
  • Fmr. Idaho Democratic Party Vice-Chairwoman Jeanne Buell[50]
  • Fmr. Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn[50]
  • Fmr. Democrats Abroad Vice-Chairman Robbie Checkoway[50]
  • Fmr. New Jersey Democratic Party Executive Director Sean Downey[50]
  • Fmr. New Hampshire State Sen. and Fmr. DNC Member Peter Burling[50]
  • Fmr. New Jersey Democratic Party Executive Director Paul Pennay[50]
  • Fmr. Maine Democratic Party Vice-Chairwoman Marianne Stevens[50]
  • Fmr. Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate[50]
DNC Members
  • Democratic activist and Fmr. Mississippi College Republicans Chairman Evan Alvarez[50]
  • Democratic activist and Fmr. New Hampshire College Republicans Chairman Jake Wagner[50]
  • New Hampshire Young Democrats President Lucas Meyer[50]
  • Fmr. National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Michael Colby[50]
  • New Hampshire Stonewall Democrats Chairman Ryan Richman[50]
  • LGBT human right activist and Harvey Milk Foundation Co-Founder Stuart Milk [50]
Pete Buttigieg (withdrew)
U.S. Senators
State and Local Politicians
  • Indiana High School Democrats[63]
Keith Ellison
Vice Presidents
U.S. Senators
U.S. Representatives
State and Local Politicians
DNC Members
Labor Unions
Jaime Harrison (withdrew)
U.S. Representatives
DNC Members
  • Fmr. DNC Chairman Carol Fowler (SC)[101]
  • Clay Middleton (SC)[101]
State and Local Politicians
  • South Carolina Democratic Party First Vice-Chair Kaye Lingle Koonce (SC)[101]
  • Fmr. Gov. and Fmr. U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley (D-SC)[103]
Tom Perez
Vice Presidents
U.S. Representatives
State and Local Politicians
DNC Members
  • Founder of Texas Latinas List Celina Vasquez (TX)[108]
  • Isabel Framer (OH)[123]
  • William T. Cheek (TN)[124]
of the DNC
State and

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