The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the principal organization governing the United States Democratic Party on a day-to-day basis. While it is responsible for overseeing the process of writing a platform every four years, the DNC's central focus is on campaign and political activity in support of Democratic Party candidates, and not on public policy. The DNC was established at the 1848 Democratic National Convention.
The Democratic National Committee provides national leadership for the Democratic Party of the United States. It is responsible for promoting the Democratic political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy. Shortly after his inauguration, Barack Obama transferred his Obama For America organization to the DNC, along with its 13 million person email list, as restrictions prevented him from taking it with him to the White House. Renamed Organizing For America, the organization also controls the BarackObama.com domain and website and is expected to work closely with Obama's New Media Director Macon Phillips, who will manage the WhiteHouse.gov â" formerly Change.gov â" website, though Phillips' duties technically fall under the White House umbrella, not the DNC.
The DNC's main counterpart is the Republican National Committee.
The DNC is responsible for articulating and promoting the Democratic platform and coordinating party organizational activity. When the President is a Democrat, the party generally works closely with the President. In presidential elections it supervises the national convention and, both independently and in coordination with the presidential candidate, raises funds, commissions polls, and coordinates campaign strategy. Following the selection of a party nominee, the public funding laws permit the national party to coordinate certain expenditures with the nominee, but additional funds are spent on general, party-building activities. There are state committees in every state, as well as local committees in most cities, wards, and towns (and, in most states, counties).
The chairperson of the DNC (currently U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida) is elected by vote of members of the Democratic National Committee. The DNC is composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party Committee, two hundred members apportioned among the states based on population and generally elected either on the ballot by primary voters or by the State Democratic Party Committee, a number of elected officials serving in an ex-officio capacity, and a variety of representatives of major Democratic Party constituencies.
The DNC establishes rules for the caucuses and primaries which choose delegates to the Democratic National Convention, but the caucuses and primaries themselves are most often run not by the DNC but instead by each state. All DNC members are superdelegates (i.e. unpledged delegates) to the Democratic National Convention and can influence a close Presidential race. Outside of the process of nominating a Presidential candidate, the DNC's role in actually selecting candidates to run on the Democratic Party ticket is minimal.
The chairperson is a superdelegate for life.
In the 2001â"2005 election cycle, the DNC and its affiliated committees (which includes numerous local committees and committees formed to coordinate expenditures for specific districts or races) raised a total of US $162,062,084, 42% of which was hard money. The largest contributor, with US $9,280,000 was the Saban Capital Group, founded in 2001 by Haim Saban, who also founded Fox Family group. Fred Eychaner, the owner of Newsweb Corporation, gave the second highest amount of money to the DNC and its affiliates, US $7,390,000. The third largest contributor was Steve Bing of Shangri-La Entertainment, who gave US $6,700,000.
In 2006, the DNC raised a total of US $61,141,823, all of it hard money. Most contributions came from small donors, giving less than $250, who accounted for over 80% of total dollars raised in the first half of 2006. The three largest individual contributors were law firm Hill Wallack ($100,000), development firm Jonathan Rose & Co. ($100,000), and investment firm Bain Capital ($53,400).
The DNC also relies on the monthly contributions of over 35,000 small-dollar donors through what is known as the Democracy Bonds program, set up by Howard Dean in the summer of 2005.
In 2002, the Federal Election Commission fined the Democratic National Committee $115,000 for its part in fundraising violations in 1996.
In June 2008, after Senator Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Dean announced that the DNC, emulating the Obama campaign, would no longer accept donations from federal lobbyists.
Current DNC leadership
- National Chair: Debbie Wasserman Schultz
- Vice Chairs:
- Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Representative from Hawaii
- Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretaryâ"Treasurer of the AFL-CIO
- Donna Brazile, political analyst, campaign manager for Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign
- Raymond Buckley, President of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party
- R. T. Rybak, former Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Treasurer: Andrew Tobias, businessman, author, and financial self-help guru
- Secretary: Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore
- Executive Director: Laura Santucci (acting)
- Communications Director: Mo Eliethee
- National Finance Chair: Henry MuÃ±oz III
In addition, a National Advisory Board exists for purposes of fundraising and advising the executive. The present chair is Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal.
DNC National Chairpersons
- Organizing for America
- Official Website
- The Charter & Bylaws of the Democratic Party of the United States (PDF)