Nov 11, 2016 8:57 PM
NH1 News Political Director
CONCORD – Ray Buckley says that he’s “been receiving calls” from all over the country encouraging him to seriously consider running for Democratic National Committee chairman.
In an interview with NH1 News on Friday morning, the longtime chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and DNC vice chairman talked about his potential bid for the top spot at the national party.
“The last few days there have been a lot of people calling in from all over the country, either emailing me or picking up the phone, that have expressed great interest in being able to essentially flip the DNC upside down, and restructure how it operates, how it works, making it a much more grassroots friendly organization and less a top to bottom organization,” Buckley said.
Asked if he’s reached out to court allies, Buckley responded “I haven’t really had the time to call anybody. I’ve been receiving calls from constituency groups within the DNC, the various constituency caucuses, state party chairs, former state party chairs, the DNC members, people all being very encouraging and wanting to have a conversation about what their thoughts are. People really want to express how they think the party, the DNC, should operate differently and I’m letting them express that.”
While Granite State political reporters have long thought that Buckley would be a serious contender to serve as the next party chair, he received national attention in July thanks to a Politico article that listed him as one of around a dozen possible contenders to steer the DNC starting next year.
In an interview with NH1 News from the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Buckley said he received encourage from hundreds of people from across the country, adding that “certainly members of the LGBT community because it would break that glass ceiling, there’s never been an openly gay leader of either party. And that would be historic in itself. But certainly the hundreds and hundreds of folks that have worked with me or for me over the last 40 years. They’re already all over Facebook talking about it."
At the time DNC vice chair Donna Brazile had just taken over as interim party chair, after DNC chair and Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down in controversy. The thought then was that a president-elect Hillary Clinton would name the next permanent party chair after winning election in November.
That of course didn’t happen, and now it will come down to a vote of state party chairs, vice chairs, and other members of the national party. That prospect should help Buckley, who’s served eight years as president of the Association of State Democratic Party Chairs.
That could come in handy, considering if he runs he won’t have the star power or name recognition of the other potential candidates: former Maryland Gov. and 2016 presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a 2004 presidential candidate who also served as DNC chair from 2005-2009, and Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who’s quick winning the backing of many top Democrats in Washington.
Asked about the other possible contenders, Buckley said “any of those other guys would be terrific DNC chairs as well. I think that what we need now is to have a lot of conversation, a lot of discussion, hear from the state parties, hear from the local activists, what do they want to see in the new DNC. If we’ve got this opportunity to have this election, let’s actually have an election and let’s be able to move forward together.”
Sanders has backed Ellison. But Buckley says he has a strong relationship with the Vermont senator who came close to taking down Clinton in the Democratic presidential primaries.
“I think that I have a great relationship with Sen. Sanders. I hired his state director and his field director to be part of my staff, people that I feel very close to. I think that my relationship with Sen. Sanders, that goes back a number of years as well, he’s been a great friend of the New Hampshire Democrats for many years. So I’m looking forward to working with him in whatever role I’m playing,” Buckley said.
And he shared that he bent over backwards to make sure Sanders got a fair shake in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. The senator ended up trouncing Clinton by 22 points in the primary, launching him into a marathon battle against the former secretary of state.
“Anyone in a leadership position in the Sanders campaign would tell you that we played this very evenly, very fairly, and unfortunately that wasn’t always the case everywhere else,” he added.
Buckley also touted the results in New Hampshire on election night.
“I think that what we have built here was able to sustain what ended up being a year where it was very difficult in purple states. And the fact that we picked up a congressional seat, picked up a U.S. Senate seat, gained in the State House, in a very difficult year, shows that we’ve got something going very positive here,” Buckley shared.
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