WASHINGTON – Several longtime officials at the Democratic National Committee are being ousted from their leadership positions, leading some to believe there is still a rift between the establishment and the progressive wings of the party.
Ahead of the DNC meeting in Las Vegas this weekend, Chairman Tom Perez revealed his list of 75 “at-large” members. Noticeably absent from the list are veteran members who supported Rep. Keith Ellison for DNC chair, along with those who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential primary.
According to NBC News, many of the Ellison and Sanders supporters are being replaced with members who backed Hillary Clinton during the election, particularly on the Rules and Bylaws Committee which helps set the rules for the party’s presidential primary.
The DNC has denied any attempt to purge the progressive members of the party, instead telling NBC News Perez wanted to diversify and freshen the party leadership. However, some of the members who lost their position feel it is retaliation for not supporting the establishment candidates.
“It is quite unusual for a former party officer who has been serving on the DNC for forever to just be left out in the cold without even a call from the chairman,” Alice Germond, an outspoken Ellison supporter who has been with the DNC since the 1980s, told NBC News. “So I assumed it had something to do with [my] support for Keith.”
In a statement to NBC News, Ellison spokesperson Karthik Ganapathy did not deny the tension between the different factions of the party, admitting some of Ellison’s suggestions for DNC officials were denied.
“Keith suggested names for DNC at-large membership and committees. Some were selected and some were not. In the end, the selections are the prerogative of the chair,” Ganapathy told NBC News.
The DNC has struggled to unite the party since the 2016 presidential primary between Clinton and Sanders. Perez, who many consider represents the establishment wing of the party, promised unity under his leadership. Appointing Ellison as Deputy Chair was seen as a step towards bringing the party together. However, the latest staff shake-up has some doubtful of Perez’s ability to bring the party together.
“I’m concerned about the optics, and I’m concerned about the impact,” James Zogby, a Sanders backer and prominent DNC official, told NBC News. “I want to heal the wound of 2016.”
Other progressive-leaning officials who were dismissed from their leadership positions include Ray Buckley, a veteran DNC official who ran for DNC Chair before dropping out and backing Ellison, and Barbra Casbar Siperstein, who also supported Ellison. Both lost spots on the Executive Committee, and Buckley was also removed from his seat on the Rules Committee.