Democrats don’t trust other Democrats.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez launched an attack on his own party’s state organizations Saturday with a long and angry email over the future of the party’s most valuable asset — its voter data file.
Just days before an important Tuesday meeting in D.C. on the future of the data operation, Perez sharply criticized a new proposal from state party leaders and singled out prominent state officials by name.
“For some inexplicable reason, this proposal would tear down just about everything about our current data structure, reversing so much of the progress we made over the past decade,” Perez wrote.
The national chairman, describing his own reaction to the state proposal as “disappointed” and “dumbfounded,” accused the president of the Association of State Democratic Committees, Minnesota’s Ken Martin, of undermining the DNC by not keeping other state party officials “in the loop,” prompting withering criticism of Perez from state party leaders.
It‘s the latest fight in a quickly escalating war over the trove of Democratic voter information — a conflict that broke into the open at a gathering of the state parties and the DNC in Puerto Rico late last month. The party’s data are largely owned by the state parties, but a considerable amount of other data being collected by outside groups like labor unions and super PACs could be leveraged to benefit Democratic candidates and the eventual 2020 nominee.
The DNC wants to gather all the data points on voters into a new, massive for-profit database but needs to convince state parties on the idea. The state parties have been wary, accusing the DNC of conducting a power grab that could financially benefit a few elite party figures.
In response to the DNC plan, Martin on Friday circulated a counterproposal designed to better integrate data from outside groups within the existing infrastructure. It was this proposal that prompted Perez’s email.
Perez’s email — with the seemingly innocuous subject line “UPDATE on data” — immediately triggered an uproar Saturday among state party leaders, who held conference calls and communicated with a flurry of emails and texts. The DNC chairman was referred to in a call as “a bull in a china shop,” according to one state party official. Another state party official called him “petulant,” via text message.
The backlash threatens to splinter the state parties and the national committee — technically separate entities — just as Democratic contenders are preparing to launch presidential campaigns.