Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is gearing up for the 2020 elections by launching an attack.
But the target of Perez’s wrath is his own party’s state organizations, as he fired off a fiery email over the weekend on the topic of voter data files, according to The Wall Street Journal.
A proposal from state party leaders on the process of using voter data to get out the vote has created a fierce internal battle in the Democratic Party, with Perez advocating a DNC plan to gather the data files – mostly owned by the state parties currently – into a for-profit database.
According to The Journal:
Under the current setup, state parties collect data and the DNC covers the cost of cleaning up and analyzing it.
Democrats want to upgrade the data sets, adding information such as email addresses, social media accounts and mobile phone numbers. The DNC has proposed mimicking the Republican National Committee’s data project, setting up a separate trust to warehouse the information and license it to all members of the party and allies, including super PACs and other outside groups.
Ken Martin, president of the Association of State Democratic Committees, offered a counter-proposal to state parties instead.
“My first priority and goal is to protect our state parties and make sure that our number one asset, our voter file, remains firmly in our grasp and control,” he wrote in an email Friday.
Martin suggested cutting out the DNC and working with TargetSmart, a company that has worked for more than 10 years with state and national Democratic parties, and would pay the state groups any time the voter data is licensed t others.
Perez fired back with an email of his own Saturday, declaring he was “disappointed” and “dumbfounded” by Martin’s idea, accusing him of essentially undermining the DNC.
“For some inexplicable reason, this proposal would tear down just about everything about our current data structure, reversing so much of the progress we made over the past decade,” he wrote. “In short we are perplexed and dumbfounded by this proposal.”
“Ken’s new entity…amounts to having State Parties effectively going alone on technology and data,” Perez argued, as he threatened to cut off access to technology tools.
“You would have to find a replacement for VoteBuilder — either building or buying — as the DNC has sole rights to the platform,” he wrote.
State party leaders criticized Perez for his reaction as did Martin, the state party chair in Minnesota.
“The DNC doesn’t even realize they are potentially slitting their own throats here,” Martin said Saturday. “There’s nothing to suggest that an outside trust would act in the best interest of the state parties and the DNC. Many people have been trying to get their hands on this data for years.”
Regarding the email, Martin said that “it’s highly disappointing that Tom would make it so personal.”
“The reality is the state parties own the voter file. At the end of the day, we hope to move forward with the DNC, but if the DNC continues down this path, we’re just not interested in that,” he told Politico. “It’s clear that the DNC is not interested in any other proposals or in negotiating.”
Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, found the rebuke from Perez “very unfortunate.”
“I was very disappointed, and I felt we could have continued to have conversations at a better level than the tone of that email, and I find it very unfortunate,” he said. “I think that’s how negotiations are, and for [Perez] to be surprised that there would be alternative suggestions is disappointing.”
The email caused South Carolina Democratic Party chairman, Trav Robertson, to “spit out my sweet tea.”
“His email was wholly inappropriate and wholly in the wrong spirit of our conversation,” he said, adding that claims that Martin “misled us and have not operated in good faith is just not true. In fact, it’s a lie.”
Jay Parmley, executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party, told Perez he was being “petty” in an email he sent to the DNC chair directly. Many other Democrats also rebuked Perez for creating the issue just as potential candidates are getting ready to launch campaigns for the 2020 elections.
“I don’t know why, in a year like 2020, anyone would contemplate blowing up a very important partnership,” said DNC consultant Mary Beth Cahill said. “This is not a way to win.”
“We have a crisis,” said Robby Mook who managed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. “Republicans are going to have a major strategic advantage over us in 2020 if we don’t fix it.”
For Martin, and many others, there just does not seems to be a way to prevent the backlash from splintering Democrats in state parties and the national committee.
“I don’t know how you put the genie back in the bottle at this point after Tom’s email,” he said.
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