Democratic National Committee

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the governing body of the United States Democratic Party. The committee coordinates strategy to support Democratic Party candidates throughout the country for local, state, and national office, as well as works to establish a "party brand".[3] It organizes the Democratic National Convention held every four years to nominate a candidate for President of the United States and to formulate the party platform. While it provides support for party candidates, it does not have direct authority over elected officials.[4] When a Democrat is president, the White House controls the Committee. According to Boris Heersink, "political scientists have traditionally described the parties’ national committees as inconsequential but impartial service providers."[5][6]

Democratic National Committee
FoundedMay 1848; 174 years ago (1848-05)[1][2]
Key people
AffiliationsDemocratic Party

Its chair is elected by the committee. It conducts fundraising to support its activities.[4]

The DNC was established at the 1848 Democratic National Convention.[1] The DNC's main counterpart is the Republican National Committee.

Role and organizationEdit

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.[7] 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 is elected by vote of members of the Democratic National Committee.[8]: 5  The DNC is composed of the chairs and vice-chairs of each state Democratic Party's central 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.

Chicago delegation to the January 8, 1912 Democratic National Committee

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 individual state. Primary elections, in particular, are invariably conducted by state governments according to their own laws. Political parties may choose to participate or not participate in a state's primary election, but no political party executives have any jurisdiction over the dates of primary elections, or how they are conducted.[citation needed]

All DNC members are superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention, and their role can affect the outcome over a close primary race. These delegates, officially described as "unpledged party leader and elected official delegates," fall into three categories based on other positions they hold:[9]

  • elected members of the Democratic National Committee,
  • sitting Democratic governors and members of Congress, and
  • distinguished party leaders, consisting of current and former presidents, vice presidents, congressional leaders, and DNC chairs, are all superdelegates for life.


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.

Chairs of the Democratic National CommitteeEdit

List of Democratic National Committee Chairs
Officeholder Term State[15]
Benjamin Hallett 1848–1852 Massachusetts
  Robert McLane 1852–1856 Maryland
  David Smalley 1856–1860 Vermont
  August Belmont 1860–1872 New York
  Augustus Schell 1872–1876 New York
  Abram Hewitt 1876–1877 New York
  William Barnum 1877–1889 Connecticut
  Calvin Brice 1889–1892 Ohio
  William Harrity 1892–1896 Pennsylvania
  James Jones 1896–1904 Arkansas
  Thomas Taggart 1904–1908 Indiana
  Norman Mack 1908–1912 New York
  William McCombs 1912–1916 New York
  Vance McCormick 1916–1919 Pennsylvania
  Homer Cummings 1919–1920 Connecticut
  George White 1920–1921 Ohio
  Cordell Hull 1921–1924 Tennessee
  Clem Shaver 1924–1928 West Virginia
  John Raskob 1928–1932 New York
  James Farley 1932–1940 New York
  Edward Flynn 1940–1943 New York
  Frank Walker 1943–1944 Pennsylvania
  Robert Hannegan 1944–1947 Missouri
  Howard McGrath 1947–1949 Rhode Island
William Boyle 1949–1951 Missouri
Frank McKinney 1951–1952 Indiana
Stephen Mitchell 1952–1955 Illinois
  Paul Butler 1955–1960 Indiana
  Scoop Jackson 1960–1961 Washington
  John Bailey 1961–1968 Connecticut
  Larry O'Brien 1968–1969 Massachusetts
  Fred Harris 1969–1970 Oklahoma
  Larry O'Brien 1970–1972 Massachusetts
Jean Westwood 1972 Utah
  Bob Strauss 1972–1977 Texas
  Kenneth Curtis 1977–1978 Maine
  John White 1978–1981 Texas
Charles Manatt 1981–1985 California
  Paul Kirk 1985–1989 Massachusetts
  Ron Brown 1989–1993 New York
David Wilhelm 1993–1994 Ohio
Debra DeLee 1994–1995 Massachusetts
  Chris Dodd (General Chair) 1995–1997 Connecticut
  Don Fowler (National Chair) South Carolina
  Roy Romer (General Chair) 1997–1999 Colorado
  Steve Grossman (National Chair) Massachusetts
  Ed Rendell (General Chair) 1999–2001 Pennsylvania
Joe Andrew (National Chair) Indiana
  Terry McAuliffe 2001–2005 Virginia
  Howard Dean 2005–2009 Vermont
  Tim Kaine 2009–2011 Virginia
  Donna Brazile (Acting) 2011 Louisiana
  Debbie Wasserman Schultz 2011–2016 Florida
  Donna Brazile (Acting) 2016–2017 Louisiana
  Tom Perez 2017–2021 Maryland
  Jaime Harrison 2021–present South Carolina

Deputy ChairsEdit

The Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee was re-established by Tom Perez in February 2017 after his win in the 2017 DNC Chair race.

After a close victory over Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, Perez appointed Ellison as Deputy Chair in an attempt to lessen the divide in the Democratic Party after the contentious 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, which saw conflicts between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.[17] Perez was seen as being more in line with the Clinton wing, while Ellison was more in line with the Sanders wing.[18] The role's revival in 2017 has been described by critics as largely titular and ceremonial.[19]

On November 8, 2018, Ellison resigned from the position due to his win in the Minnesota Attorney General election.[20] The position remains unoccupied.

Officeholder Term State
Ben Johnson[21] 2003–2005 Maryland
Mike Honda 2003–2005 California
Susan Turnbull 2003–2005 Maryland
Keith Ellison 2017–2018[22] Minnesota



In the 1970s, the DNC had its head office in the Watergate complex, which was burglarized by entities working for Richard Nixon's administration during the Watergate scandal.


Chinagate was an alleged effort by the People's Republic of China to influence domestic American politics prior to and during the Clinton administration.[23] In 2002, the Federal Election Commission fined the Democratic National Committee $115,000 for its part in fundraising violations in 1996.[24]

Cyber attacksEdit

Debbie Wasserman Schultz served as DNC chair from 2011 to 2016.

Cyber attacks and hacks were claimed by or attributed to various individual and groups such as:

  • According to committee officials and security experts, two competing Russian intelligence services were discovered on DNC computer networks. One intelligence service achieved infiltration beginning in the summer of 2015 and the other service breached and roamed the network beginning in April 2016. The two groups accessed emails, chats, and research on an opposing presidential candidate. They were expelled from the DNC system in June 2016.[25][26][27]
  • The hacker Guccifer 2.0 claimed that he hacked into the Democratic National Committee computer network and then leaked its emails to the newspaper The Hill.[28][29] During a CNN interview with Jake Tapper, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, cited experts saying that the DNC emails were leaked by the Russians but did not name the experts.[30][31] The press and cybersecurity firms discredited the Guccifer 2.0 claim, as investigators now believe Guccifer 2.0 was an agent of the G.R.U., Russia's military intelligence service.[25][27][32][33]

2016 email leakEdit

On July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks released approximately 20,000 DNC emails.[34] Critics claimed that the Committee unequally favored Hillary Clinton and acted in support of her nomination while opposing the candidacy of her primary challenger Bernie Sanders. Donna Brazile corroborated these allegations in an excerpt of her book published by Politico in November 2017.[35] The leaked emails spanned sixteen months, terminating in May 2016.[36]

The WikiLeaks releases led to the resignations of Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Communications Director Luis Miranda, Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall and Chief Executive Amy Dacey.[37] After she resigned, Wasserman Schultz put out a statement about possible FBI assistance in investigating the hacking and leaks, saying that "the DNC was never contacted by the FBI or any other agency concerned about these intrusions."[38] During a Senate hearing in January 2017, James Comey testified that the FBI requested access to the DNC's servers, but its request was denied. He also testified that old versions of the Republican National Committee's servers were breached, but then-current databases were unaffected.[39]

The DNC subsequently filed a lawsuit in federal court against WikiLeaks and others alleging a conspiracy to influence the election.[40]


The DNC has existed since 1848.[41] During the 1848 Democratic National Convention, a resolution was passed creating the Democratic National Committee, composed of thirty members, one person per state, chosen by the states' delegations, and chaired by Benjamin F. Hallett.[42]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Party History. Retrieved February 17, 2007. Archived November 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Smith, Melissa M.; Williams, Glenda C.; Powell, Larry; Copeland, Gary A. (2010). Campaign Finance Reform: The Political Shell Game. Lexington Books. p. 14. ISBN 9780739145678. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  3. ^ Heersink, Boris (2021). "Examining Democratic and Republican National Committee Party Branding Activity, 1953–2012". Perspectives on Politics: 1–18. doi:10.1017/S1537592721000025. ISSN 1537-5927. S2CID 233646493.
  4. ^ a b "". DNC. Archived from the original on June 17, 2017. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  5. ^ Boris Heersink, "Trump and the party-in-organization: Presidential control of national party organizations." Journal of Politics 80.4 (2018): 1474-1482.
  6. ^ Cornelius P. Cotter and Bernard C. Hennessy, eds. Politics without Power: The National Party Committees (2009) excerpt
  7. ^ "Public Funding of Presidential Elections". Federal Election Commission. February 2005. Retrieved October 29, 2006.
  8. ^ DNC 2018 Charter
  9. ^ "Delegate Selection Materials For the 2016 Democratic National Convention" (PDF). December 15, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Leadership". Democrats. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  11. ^ "Cornale tapped for DNC executive director". Politico. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  12. ^ Bowker, Brittany (February 24, 2021). "DNC announces several new hires, including Roger Lau, a former Elizabeth Warren staffer". Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  13. ^ "Democratic Party on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  14. ^ Democratic National Committee (January 22, 2013). "Democratic National Committee Elects New Officers at Meeting in Washington Today". Archived from the original on February 2, 2013. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  15. ^ Lawrence Kestenbaum. "A Database of Historic Cemeteries". The Political Graveyard web site. Retrieved December 29, 2010.
  16. ^ Schemmel, B. "Political parties". United States Government departments and offices, etc. Rulers.
  17. ^ Bradner, Eric (February 26, 2017). "Perez wins DNC chairmanship". CNN. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  18. ^ Chang, Clio (February 23, 2017). "The Case for Tom Perez Makes No Sense". The New Republic. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  19. ^ Evans, Lauren (February 25, 2017). "Tom Perez Elected to Head DNC, Edging Out Keith Ellison". Jezebel. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  20. ^ Lim, Naomi (November 9, 2018). "Keith Ellison resigns from DNC post". Washington Examiner. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  21. ^ "Ben Johnson | The HistoryMakers". The History Makers. Archived from the original on March 21, 2017. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  22. ^ "DNC's second in command steps down after winning attorney general race in Minnesota". USA Today. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  23. ^ "Fund-raiser Charlie Trie pleads guilty under plea agreement". CNN. May 21, 1999. Archived from the original on August 5, 2006.
  24. ^ "DNC fined for illegal 1996 fund raising". CNN. September 23, 2002. Archived from the original on May 14, 2008.
  25. ^ a b Nakashima, Ellem (June 14, 2016). "Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  26. ^ "'Lone Hacker' Claims Responsibility for Cyber Attack on Democrats". NBC News. June 16, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  27. ^ a b Sanger, David E.; Corasaniti, Rick (June 14, 2016). "D.N.C. Says Russian Hackers Penetrated Its Files, Including Dossier on Donald Trump". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  28. ^ Uchill, Joe (July 13, 2016). "Guccifer 2.0 releases new DNC docs". The Hill. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  29. ^ Joe, Uchill (July 18, 2016). "New Guccifer 2.0 dump highlights 'wobbly Dems' on Iran deal". The Hill. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  30. ^ Bump, Philip (March 5, 2018). "The Russian interference fight was encapsulated in one CNN show in July 2016". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  31. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange on Releasing DNC Emails That Ousted Debbie Wasserman Schultz". Democracy Now!. July 25, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  32. ^ Alperovitch, Dmitri (June 15, 2016). "Bears in the Midst: Intrusion into the Democratic National Committee". From The Front Lines. CrowdStrike, Inc. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  33. ^ Sanger, David E.; Schmitt, Eric (July 26, 2016). "Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C." The New York Times. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  34. ^ "WikiLeaks - Search the DNC email database". WikiLeaks. July 22, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  35. ^ Brazile, Donna (November 2, 2017). "Inside Hillary Clinton's Secret Takeover of the DNC". Politico. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  36. ^ Uchill, Joe (July 22, 2016). "WikiLeaks posts 20,000 DNC emails". The Hill. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  37. ^ Phillip, Abby; Zezima, Katie (August 2, 2016). "Top Democratic National Committee officials resign in wake of email breach". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  38. ^ Wright, Austin (June 21, 2017). "Jeh Johnson: DNC did not want DHS help following election hack". Politico.
  39. ^ Schultheis, Emily (January 10, 2017). "FBI Director Comey: Agency requested access to DNC servers". CBS News.
  40. ^ Hamburger, Tom; Helderman, Rosalind S.; Nakashima, Ellen (April 20, 2017). "Democratic Party sues Russia, Trump campaign and WikiLeaks alleging 2016 campaign conspiracy". The Washington Post.
  41. ^ Macy, Jesse (1914). "Committees, Party". In McLaughlin, Andrew Cunningham; Bushnell Hart, Albert (eds.). Cyclopedia of American Government. Vol. 1. pp. 361–363.
  42. ^ Howe, Joseph Edwin (1919). The Democratic National Committee, 1830–1876 (Master's thesis). University of Wisconsin–Madison – via Google Books.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit