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Daily News Op Ed: Tom Perez must go: The party chair is dragging Democrats down at the worst possible moment

Article: Tom Perez must go: The party chair is dragging Democrats down at the worst possible moment
Link: https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-tom-perez-must-go-20200207-7ajxkb62zrdzjeakzhzihojoam-story.html

Democrats know the stakes in the next election couldn’t be higher. President Trump absolutely must be defeated; he poses a threat to our values, our culture, our standing in the world and even the continuation of our democracy.

The recent Gallup poll showing Trump’s approval ratings at an all-time high of 49%, with his support surging out of the impeachment hearings, has us worried that Democrats may not be up to the task of defeating him.

One immediate move we must make as a party is to send the chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Tom Perez, packing. Candidly, the Democratic general leading the battle against Trump isn’t up to the challenge before him.

We have six major areas of concern.

1. The Iowa Caucus was a debacle.

At a time when there are significant ideological and geographical divisions within the Democratic Party, the Iowa Caucus mess — which Perez seems to be completely sidestepping accountability for — has reopened all the 2016 Clinton-Sanders fault lines within the party. At a time when we need to show strength against Trump, old divisions are reopening, and perhaps widening.

2. Democrats don’t have a winning campaign message.

The party’s message about our vision for America has been completely consumed by the recent impeachment battle, and the polling data makes clear that in key swing states, the push for impeachment didn’t help Democrats — it worked against us. The party lacks a strategy for delivering that thin sliver of Americans whose votes are up for grabs in key swing states back into the Democratic column.

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Meanwhile, it would seem Perez learned nothing about how to fire up the Democratic base despite having worked under two of the best in the business — President Obama and Sen. Ted Kennedy.

3. Democrats need a leader with election chops.

Under President Clinton, the DNC was headed by then-Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, someone who himself had run and won multiple elections. Obama’s DNC head was then-Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a political force in his own right.

Perez, by contrast, has only won a race for county council in a liberal suburban Maryland neighborhood. He later ran for attorney general of Maryland, but he was tossed off the ballot because he didn’t meet state residency requirements. Perez was gunning for the state’s top legal job, yet he apparently didn’t understand the law about who could hold office.

None of this inspires confidence in his electoral savvy.

4. The debates are missing the mark.

Along with WPA Intelligence, a Republican analytics firm, we have been monitoring the social media discussion around the Democratic debates for president.

Month after month, we have found engagement and viewership tepid and mostly generating snarky attacks and comments — hardly what we need to do in order to unite and make the party stronger.

Perez is not creating compelling television. He is missing a big opportunity to energize Democrats across the country.

Some of this likely stems from the cockamamie rules for qualification crafted by the DNC, which have simultaneously let too many people on the stage and excluded legitimate contenders like Mike Bloomberg.

5. Senior party leadership does not mirror the party’s base.

Perez, born to parents who were first-generation Dominican immigrants, has also done far too little to open the party infrastructure to women and people of color — let alone candidates.

Why aren’t there more African Americans, Latinos and LGBTQ leaders in positions of power and authority within the DNC?

6. Paltry fundraising sends an ominous sign.

At a time when Democrats are roaring to take our case against Trump to the people, the DNC has produced lackluster fundraising totals. According to the latest filings, the DNC has $8.7 million in cash, but is $7 million in debt.

How is the RNC doing? It has raised a staggering $156 million and has more than $61 million dollars in the bank.

In the most recent filing period, the DNC was only able to send a paltry $1.3 million dollars to the state parties across the country to build out critical infrastructure for next year.

If Democrats don’t have the resources to compete against Trump, we might as well pack up and go home.

Perez has said that his fundraising efforts are competing against all the Democratic candidates for president; he says raising money will be easier once a nominee is chosen. Sounds like an excuse to us.

It’s time for Tom Perez to go. Democrats are not ready for battle under his leadership, and if he stays atop the party, they will pay a heavy price come next November.

Honan is CEO of Honan Strategy Group, a Democratic polling and analytics firm. Wierson is a TV producer and former senior media adviser to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Both support Bloomberg for president.