Politics – Democrats – Biden – Jim Clyburn – DNC –Jaime Harrison –
February 23, 2021
TrueNewsBlog – TNB
By: NATHANIEL BALLANTYNE
TruesNewsblog – When JOE BIDEN nominated JAIME HARRISON to head the Democratic National Committee, the president’s team also informed Harrison they had already hired his top staffers, according to a Democratic official familiar with the conversations. The DNC’s CEO, MARY BETH CAHILL, would become a senior adviser and her deputy, SAM CORNALE, would be the DNC’s executive director, they said.
Some former DNC officials expressed surprise that Harrison, who had been boosted by House Majority Whip JIM CLYBURN, would not be able to bring in more of his own people. The moves speak to the powerful role White House Deputy Chief of Staff JEN O’MALLEY DILLON — who’s become Biden’s point person dealing with the DNC —has at the committee.
It also raises the prospect of a power struggle developing between one of Biden’s closest allies and the White House. Cahill is a close ally of O’Malley Dillon’s and became the party committee’s CEO last spring at the Biden campaign’s request soon after O’Malley Dillon became campaign manager.
“You gotta go through Jen,” White House Chief of Staff RON KLAIN has told those who’ve approached the White House about political questions touching the DNC. Even after O’Malley Dillon was named deputy chief of staff and Harrison assumed his role, she was closely involved in the DNC personnel machinations, including running meetings.
A White House official said in an email that “Chair Harrison has proven himself to be an effective leader for the Party and is a full partner in every decision being made.”
In a statement through a spokesperson, Harrison said, “We are focused on a 50 state strategy to win and I’m proud to partner with President Biden and play whatever role I can to help him elect Democrats up and down the ballot. I was honored to be asked to serve as chair.”
The relationship between O’Malley Dillon, Harrison, Cornale, and Cahill will matter in the lead-up to 2024. Inside the building, staffers are working under the assumption that Biden is running again and are preparing to build an organization supporting his reelection.
Even if Biden doesn’t run, however, many of the valuable digital assets the DNC is working on, such as the email list, would likely belong to the other member of the 2020 ticket — Vice President KAMALA HARRIS — which could give her a running start in a Democratic primary. Biden had access to President BARACK OBAMA’s 2012 email list in the 2020 primary, but that list was nearly eight years old and not as valuable as Biden’s 2020 list would be.
Some Obama-era veterans say there is nothing unusual about the White House choosing the senior staff for the new party chair. JIM MESSINA, of the Messina Group, who was the deputy chief of staff overseeing the DNC during the Obama administration, remembered that “We said [to DNC Chair TIM KAINE], ‘We’re gonna put Jen there [as executive director]. And then we set them up to meet each other, and they hit it off, and they were great.”
Messina also said the scrutiny of O’Malley Dillon’s DNC role and senior staff hires is “borderline sexist.”
“People are picking on Jennifer in a way they wouldn’t pick on her if she was the guy,” he said. “And I just think it’s bullshit. Like no one wrote this story when I was doing this because it’s exactly what Bush did. It’s exactly what Trump did. But it’s Jen and it’s not fair. So I hate this.”
It’s not the first time O’Malley Dillon has faced the complicated task of coordinating between the DNC and a new Democratic president.
She was executive director of the party committee under Kaine at the outset of the Obama administration in 2009. While the DNC and Obama’s Organizing for America effort powered Obama to reelection, many Democrats felt the Obama White House neglected the rest of the DNC, which hurt Democrats down ballot.
That experience has made some state parties wary of O’Malley Dillon’s return as a driving force at the DNC, but people who have spoken with O’Malley Dillon say she has been introspective about how to improve on what the national party did last time. Many of the decisions that will determine the direction forward, however, have yet to be made.
The Biden administration is preparing to launch its own outside political organization with close allies — the working name is “Building Back Together” — but insist that the group will not duplicate or overshadow the DNC and state parties’ work.
There have not been outward signs of tensions between the DNC and the White House, although there were some divides during the 2020 campaign. Clyburn, for example, clashed repeatedly with O’Malley Dillon on the decision to forgo door-to-door canvassing over health concerns amid the pandemic, and attributed Harrison’s loss in the Senate race last November to that decision.
“Jen O’Malley’s — all I’m saying is, is that her kind of politics? I don’t know,” he told NATASHA KORECKI in January . “We raised holy hell during the campaign” over the canvassing freeze.
O’Malley Dillon’s decision on door knocking also raised questions within the Biden campaign, as did some of her other moves, including the pace of hiring. Her ascension to campaign manager also triggered some internal divisions during her initial months last spring.
Clyburn’s office tells us the disagreement wasn’t personal and that “the Whip supports the partnership between Jaime and Jen in their current roles. To say otherwise would be inaccurate.”
The White House declined to make O’Malley Dillon available yesterday or today. They did, however, make her available to the Washington Post today for a story on the DNC .