WASHINGTON ― Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez announced the complete list of people on the 21-member Unity Reform Commission on Monday.
The panel was created at the party’s national convention in July as a last-minute compromise between supporters of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and those of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who were demanding the elimination of super-delegates from presidential primaries.
The commission will now begin the process of discussing reforms to the party’s presidential nominating process, including hot-button issues like the role of super-delegates and caucuses. It will present its recommendations to the DNC by January 2018.
“At the 2016 convention, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and national delegates agreed that in order to capture the energy of Democrats from across the country it is critical that we enhance the nominating process that continues to embrace the big tent of our party,” Perez said in a statement. “This includes everyone, from lifelong Democrats to 18-year-olds who cast their first ballot in 2016.”
“A Democratic Party that gives every Democrat a voice in the process will make enormous gains from the school board to the Senate this cycle and it will take back the White House in 2020,” he continued. “We already see this incredible energy in a number of highly competitive races across the country.”
Below is a complete list of the commission members:
Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Chair, District of Columbia; partner, Precision Strategies
Larry Cohen, Vice Chair, District of Columbia; chair of Our Revolution and former president of the Communication Workers of America
Charlie Baker, Massachusetts; president of Dewey Square Group and former chief administrative officer of the Clinton campaign
Jan Bauer, Iowa; Iowa Democratic National Committeewoman and Clinton supporter
Jeff Berman, District of Columbia, former Clinton campaign consultant
Lucy Flores, California, former Nevada Assemblywoman and Sanders supporter
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Clinton supporter
Maya Harris, New York, former senior policy adviser, Clinton campaign
David Huynh, Louisiana; former Clinton campaign director of delegate operations and ballot access
Elaine Kamarck, Massachusetts; senior fellow, Brookings Institution
Jane Kleeb, Nebraska Democratic Party Chair; Sanders supporter and Our Revolution board member
Nomiki Konst, New York; investigative reporter for the Young Turks and former Sanders convention delegate
Yvette Lewis, Maryland Democratic National Committeewoman and Clinton supporter
Gus Newport, California; former mayor of Berkeley, California and Sanders supporter
Jorge Neri, Illinois; former Clinton campaign Nevada state director
James Roosevelt, Jr., Massachusetts; president of Tufts Health Plan and co-chair of the Democratic national convention Rules and Bylaws Committee
Emmy Ruiz, Texas; former Clinton campaign Colorado state director
Former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, Sanders convention delegate and Our Revolution board member
Jeff Weaver, Virginia; former Sanders campaign chair
Wellington Webb, Colorado; former Denver mayor and Clinton supporter
Jim Zogby, District of Columbia; founder of the Arab American Institute and Sanders supporter
The 21-member commission includes nine members selected by Clinton, seven members picked by Sanders, three picked by Perez, and the chair and vice chair ― selected by Clinton and Sanders, respectively.
Aside from Chair Jen O’Malley Dillon, a Clinton pick, the breakdown of the members selected by Perez and Clinton is not public.
Sanders had also already named his selections to the commission. They are Cohen, the vice chair; former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner; former Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver; former Sanders New York delegate Nomiki Konst; Jim Zogby, founder of the Arab-American Institute; former Berkeley, California Mayor Gus Newport; former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores; and Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb.
The DNC declined to name the three members Perez picked and a spokesman for Clinton did not respond to a request for information on her appointments.
Members of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, particularly those who backed Sanders’ insurgent candidacy, eagerly await the commission’s deliberations.
Many Sanders partisans accuse the DNC of skewing the presidential nomination process against Sanders and other outsiders. Super-delegates, or party insiders and elected officials free to support a primary candidate regardless of whom their state’s voters backed, are a particular sticking point. Hundreds of super-delegates endorsed Clinton before Sanders even entered the race.
Other issues include a primary schedule that critics charge with favoring well-funded candidates, the timing of primary debates, and the ability of independents to vote in states where primaries and caucuses are currently closed to them.
One area of compromise might be the role of caucuses, the in-person meetings that some states use to elect their nominees. The gatherings often take hours and disproportionately attract party activists, which has elicited criticism that they are less democratic. Sanders nonetheless turned in some of his strongest performances in caucus states.
Once the commission makes its recommendations for reform, it will be up to the DNC to adopt the commission’s recommendations.
While he was campaigning for DNC chair, Perez acknowledged the legitimate grievances of the Sanders faction ― at one point going so far as to imply the primary was “rigged,” before walking it back under pressure.
“He has had some rhetorical commitment to trying to bring the progressive wing of the party into the fold,” said Rhode Island state Rep. Aaron Regunberg, a Sanders supporter who was on the Democratic National Convention Rules and Bylaws Committee. “I see this as a good test of whether that’s real rhetoric or not.”
“A lot of people are watching to see if there is a genuine commitment to embrace the energy that has come from the progressive side of the party and step away from plutocracy. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I gotta hope that we will. If we don’t, I don’t see us making the other changes that we need to win in ‘18 and 2020.
Regunberg and other progressive reformers who wanted the Rules and Bylaws Committee to abolish super-delegates outright this past July are mostly taking a wait-and-see approach now that the commission is in place.
“We have a real opportunity to present a dynamic shift in the party and I’m hoping that all the DNC Unity Commission members are on the same page about needing these real changes,” said Nomiki Konst, a Sanders appointee to the Unity Reform Commission. “We should take our job very seriously.”
Brian Ertz, an Idaho environmental lawyer and Sanders appointee to the convention Rules and Bylaws Committee expressed skepticism.
Ertz voted against the compromise that created the Unity Reform Commission on the grounds that “these commissions are where reform goes to die.”
“The question is whether the DNC will adopt reforms that necessarily diminish and dilute the power of individual members. And I just don’t see that happening. I’m hoping I’ll be wrong, but I’m not counting on it,” Ertz said, referring to the fact that all voting DNC members are super-delegates, among other potential conflicts of interest.
He added that it is “crazy” and “ominous” that Perez was declining to disclose which appointments were his, and which were made by Clinton.
“It’s really sort of odd that the Clinton campaign, after its epic failure, would have the measure of influence it does,” Ertz concluded.
The commission’s first meeting will take place in Washington, D.C., on May 5-6. All of its meetings will be public.
This article has been updated with more details on the commission and reaction about what it hopes to accomplish.
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