Now that the general election of 2016 is history, one of the tasks that awaits both parties is an internal reorganization. Reince Priebus, the current Republican Chair, is moving to the White House where he will become Chief of Staff to the incoming President. The Democrats' interim party Chair, Donna Brazile, will hopefully be ousted from her position and set out along the side of the road someplace where she can do no further political harm.
New leadership for the Democrats will be critical as the party comes off of an election year in which it was deeply divided and ultimately witnessed the loss of its crown jewel - the Presidency. The presidential candidate who suffered the most grievous personal harm at the hands of his own party machinery, Senator Bernie Sanders, is endorsing Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota for the post. Ellison, one of only two Muslims in Congress, would be a bold and perhaps provocative choice to lead the party. He is already garnering support among party leadership.
Another prominent entry into the DNC Chair race is the party's former Chair, Howard Dean. Dean, a medical doctor and former governor of Vermont, helped to organize and revitalize the party after John Kerry's loss to George W. Bush in 2004, and his "50-state" strategy is often cited as one of key components of Obama's victory in 2008.
Howard Dean argues that the party needs to be under the leadership of someone who can devote full time to the job - not someone who would be running it as an extra duty, as was the case with the last party chair, Debbie Abomination Wasserman Schultz, who was also a full-time member of Congress. Dean, who is currently unemployed, would meet that criteria of being available for the position on a full-time basis.
And Keith Ellison, in the mold of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, would not.
I like the good doctor from Vermont, and even had the privilege of sharing a brief conversation with him once - and I firmly believe his point is valid. Leadership of the Democratic Party is too important to be addressed on a part-time or phone-in basis. But Howard Dean, who did a remarkable job with the party before, will be sixty-eight-years-old tomorrow and is nearing his "use by" date. He could best serve his party by helping a young and dynamic new leader learn the ropes.
Others being mentioned or expressing an interest in the job include former governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, South Carolina Party Chair Jaime Harrison, New Hampshire Party Chair Ray Buckley, and Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander.
And for anyone who's interested, Pa Rock has a favorite in this race. Thirty-five-year-old Jason Kander, a political dynamo who came within three points of defeating our basset-faced junior senator, Ol' Roy Blunt, would be exceptional in the position. Kander is energetic, personable, and politically astute - and he will be available full-time when his term as Missouri's Secretary of State expires in early January.
The Democratic Party could not do better than allowing itself to be led by Jason Kander.