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Buckley ousted from DNC rules committee in party shake-up

  • Ray Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, takes the stage to address a forum on the future of the Democratic Party, featuring candidates running to be the the next chair of the Democratic National committee, on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, in Denver. The candidates spoke during the Association of State Democratic Chairs session. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) David Zalubowski

For the Monitor
Published: 10/19/2017 2:53:24 PM

Come Saturday, Ray Buckley will no longer be a member of the Democratic National Committee’s powerful Rules Committee.

While the longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman wasn’t nominated to continue serving on the committee, which oversees the presidential nominating calendar, the first-in-the-nation primary state will still have a member on the committee.

Kathy Sullivan, who preceded Buckley as state party chair and who is one of New Hampshire’s two DNC committee members, has been nominated by DNC president Tom Perez.

“What’s important is that New Hampshire has a member and a voice on the Rules Committee given our position as the first-in-the-nation presidential primary,” said Sullivan, who is in Las Vegas for a major DNC gathering.

Every four years, the DNC’s Rules Committee drafts the rules for the presidential nominating process. Those rules are then voted on by the full DNC membership.

“I think that there’s a lot of support to keep the calendar the way it is and not have significant changes with it,” Sullivan said.

She added that “Perez said there was support for keeping the calendar with New Hampshire as the first presidential primary.”

After Buckley dropped his own bid for the DNC chair in mid-February, Sullivan backed Perez, who served as secretary of labor during President Barack Obama’s second term.

“Before I decided to support now-chairman Perez, one of the questions I asked was whether New Hampshire would continue to have a member on the Rules Committee, and the response was ‘Yes, of course,’ ” Sullivan explained.

Buckley supported Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota for DNC chair after ending his own bid. Buckley is one of a handful of veteran DNC members who didn’t back Perez who are losing positions on crucial committees. The ousters are exposing what appears to be a divide in the party between the establishment and progressive wings, a rift that first divided the party during the long battle between Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination.

After edging Ellison to win election as DNC chair, Perez pledged to unite the party and quickly named Ellison as his vice chairman.

Sullivan characterized the changes as business as usual.

“Whenever there is a new DNC chair, you see changes in committee memberships and at-large nominations. The changes are not what I would call major shake-ups,” she said.

“We have a new chairman, and he’s making a few changes on some of the committees and some of the at-large memberships just as Debbie Wasserman Schultz made changes, just as Tim Kaine made changes, just as Terry McAuliffe made changes,” Sulllivan continued. “It’s just the nature of any organization that, when someone new comes in, they are going to tinker here and there with committees, and that’s what we’re seeing here.”

Buckley was also not appointed by Perez to the DNC’s executive committee. Buckley was a long-standing member of the committee, thanks to his position as president of the Association of State Democratic Party Chairs. But he gave up that position when he stepped down as head of the state party chairs to run for DNC chair.

Buckley may still be elected to the Executive Committee by the Eastern Regional DNC members. That election is scheduled to take place Thursday evening in Las Vegas.

Sullivan told the Monitor that the Granite State will have representation on another important committee. Pereze nominated State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, first vice chair of the NHDP, and New Hampshire DNC at-large member Joanne Dowdell to serve on the Credentials Committee. Both women backed Ellison in the February DNC chair election.

Sullivan said that the Rules Committee will immediately begin to review the current primary calendar rules.

The DNC’s GOP counterpart, the Republican National Committee, is also beginning that process.

The RNC’s Presidential Nominating Process Committee begins meeting next month. The panel will preview the process from the last four years to determine whether they want to make any changes to the rules. If they do, they’ll submit a report to the Rules Committee.

Steve Duprey, a longtime RNC committee member from New Hampshire and a former state Republican Party chairman, is serving on the new committee, as well as on the Rules Committee.

Duprey, who has long fought to keep New Hampshire first in the GOP primary calendar, told the Monitor, “I think the process worked really well. Some people may not like the result, but the process worked very well last time and the schedule worked really well. My argument would be to stay the same.”

And he added that President Donald Trump, whose convincing win in the New Hampshire primary launched him toward winning the GOP nomination and eventually the White House, supports keeping the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary status.




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