Barack Obama may still be Democrats’ (and just about everyone else’s) fave, but party leaders weren’t too happy when he decided to form a competitive political group, Organizing for Action.
Now, the current crop of leading Democratic presidential hopefuls have pledged that they won’t do the same if they get the chance to sit in the Oval Office.
The Association of State Democratic Committees announced Tuesday that every leading presidential contender has vowed not to create “any organizing or messaging infrastructure that is parallel or duplicative” to the DNC or state parties. The signed pledge also binds candidates to publicly call on their supporters not to launch outside groups on their behalf.
The pledge aims to strengthen the Democrats’ main organizing and fundraising organ, the Democratic National Committee, as well as the state party organizations.
Party leaders at the state level point to the existence of Obama’s own political organization for the many losses Democrats experienced in state legislative and governor’s races across the country, saying OFA attracted the kinds of dollars they could have used on the ground.
“It wasn’t helpful to the political work that needs to get done in building a bench,” Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, told Politico. “We have a political tool in the state parties and the president should use them.”
One sticking point for the Dems was the existence of Our Revolution, the grassroots group created by Vermont Sen. and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.
Sanders signed the pledge, but said Our Revolution could continue to exist if he were elected president “because the group already acts and operates ‘independently,’” Politico explains.
A Sanders adviser likened Our Revolution to other outside political organizations like Move On.
Some disagreed, noting, for instance, that Nina Turner, the former Ohio senator who is co-chair of the Sanders campaign, used to be president of Our Revolution.
However, the belief is there that the independent Sanders would fall in line with Democratic Party needs if elected.
“We can’t have competing centers of gravity as we move forward,” Ken Martin, chair of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and president of the state Democratic committees, told Politico. “We’ve learned the lessons of the past.”
“If Sen. Sanders is the president, he would put his energy and political capital into the Democratic Party,” Martin said.