The 447 members of the Democratic National Committee that will get together for the party’s four-day spring meeting in Atlanta beginning next Thursday have an important decision – who will lead the Democratic Party over the next four years?
The two best known candidates are Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison and Tom Perez, the Dept. of Labor Secretary under Barack Obama.
“If I was a betting man, I’d say that Perez has the edge,” says Alan Clendenin, a DNC Commiteeman from Tampa who will be in Atlanta next week to vote in the chair’s race. Speaking with this reporter on WMNF radio on Thursday, Clendenin also acknowledges that “there’s a lot of love for Keith” Ellison as well.
Getting some love from some mainstream Democrats is South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was endorsed on Thursday by former DNC National Chair and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. Former Maryland Governor and Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley is also backing the mayor.
Clendenin also speaks highly of South Carolina Democratic Chairman Jaime Harrison, who he pegs as a sleeper candidate.”He’s got a lot of future ahead of him,” he says. “He’s a young guy. I’m a huge fan of Jamie Harrison.”
On Wednesday, Harrison received the endorsements of Ohio Democratic Congress members Tim Ryan and Marcia Fudge.
Other candidates in the race include Sally Boynton Brown, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party, activist and Fox News communicator Jehmu Greene, and New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley, who Clendenin has known for years.
“He’s been in party politics for a long time,” Clendenin says. “He knows where all the bodies are buried. Anybody who becomes a chair who does not use Ray Buckley is a fool, because he’s going to be somebody important.”
Clendenin is no stranger to elections when it comes to party chair, having finished second in the races to lead the Florida Democratic Party in 2013 and again last month, when he lost out to Miami area developer and fundraiser Stephen Bittel.
Clendenin has not committed to anyone in the contest yet. And he’s not the only Hillsborough Democrat with a vote.
Hillsborough County Commiteewoman Alma Gonzalez is also a DNC Committewoman. She was unavailable for comment on Thursday.
The election for DNC Chair takes place on Saturday, February 25.