February 21, 2017
To The Members of the NDCO and DMO:
Ever since the start of my campaign for DNC Chair, I have been saying that the DNC can no
longer be the Democratic National Presidential Committee. I mean it. While the top of the
ticket gets the most attention in the media, the DNC cannot allow itself to become distracted
from its mission of electing Democrats to all offices up and down the ballot. Often, it’s the
races further down the ballot, with smaller electorates, where the DNC’s organizing efforts can
make the most difference. The DNC needs a fundamental restructuring to make sure this vital
work gets done. We don’t need separate DNC staff to focus on state and local races; we need
the core DNC staff to focus on all races, and for regional staff to be constantly collaborating
with State and Local Parties.
The organizing principle of my candidacy is that the DNC must bring back the 50-State
Strategy and reinvest in all of our State Parties from the grassroots up. If we focus only on
states that are closely contested at the presidential level, we hurt our candidates for offices
further down the ballot in states that are solidly red or solidly blue, in races that are often closely
contested even if the states are not. After the success of the 50-State Strategy in 2006 and 2008,
we took our eye off the ball and have lost countless state and local offices in the years since. In
South Carolina, we have received fewer and fewer resources from the DNC, depriving us of the
ability to organize block by block. As DNC Chair, I will be sure that State Parties have the
resources they need so that organizers can zero in on local races.
Many states are so overlooked, they can’t even get a popular surrogate to visit to help them build
their parties, and useful data is hard to come by. This is unacceptable, because the decisions
made by state and local officeholders everywhere have a huge impact on people’s everyday
lives. I will be sure that the DMO and NDCO get top-tier surrogates and top-notch data.
We must elect Democrats to local positions in every community because every community is
better off with Democratic policies.
Local candidates and officeholders are both the present and future of our Party. Our bench must
be built at the local level. In South Carolina, we’re training our bench through the James E.
Clyburn Political Fellowship. The Clyburn Fellowship brings together dynamic young leaders
from throughout our state to participate in a rigorous nine-month training program to give them
the skills they need to succeed in politics. We’ve just begun our second class, and the fellows
are as diverse as South Carolina’s cities and counties. As DNC Chair, I will ensure that similar
programs exist nationwide to groom candidates who can speak to the concerns of their
communities and win, and I will ensure that these trainings continue as the fellows become
candidates and elected officials at all levels.
I have talked a great deal in this campaign about how the DNC and our State Parties can’t simply
be political organizations fighting for votes every 2 or 4 years; we must be community
organizations addressing the concerns faced by people in their everyday lives. To move in this
direction in South Carolina, we started an initiative called SC Democrats Care, which brings
together Democrats throughout the state to participate in community service projects. City and
county leaders are the essential links between the Democratic Party’s political activities and our
community activities. Because for you, politics and direct community service are one and the
same. Trust in the Democratic Party will be rebuilt through our local elected officials, and the
DNC must ensure that you have what you need to succeed and are not considered an afterthought
in the shadow of those at the state level.
To be effective as a Party, all of us must be on the same page. That is why in the first two
months of my Chairmanship, I will convene a meeting of all of our committees—NDCO,
DMO, DSCC, DCCC, DGA, DLCC, DAGA, and DASS—to make sure we’re working together
and sharing resources effectively where it makes sense to do so, and in particular making sure
the committees for the down-ballot offices have the resources you need to be successful,
recognizing that fundraising is more challenging for the down-ballot committees and the DNC
must step in to fill the gap. I will ensure that local elected officials are treated on equal footing
with all elected officials by the DNC, and I will support the creation of a Local Elected Officials
Caucus. The success of Democrats everywhere on the ballot is impacted by the success of
Democrats everywhere else. In the age of Trump, the Democratic Party must be a lean, mean,
strategic machine. It’s up to the DNC to hone it.
The position of DNC Chair is a party-building job. We need to elect a party-builder who
knows how to organize from school board and city council on up. I have been doing this in
South Carolina, and I have the skills necessary to do it nationwide at the DNC. As DNC
members choose their next leader, we must focus on the party-building task at hand and decide
which of the candidates has what it takes to get that job done. I know I have what it takes, and I
hope to have your support.