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Head of the Democratic Party in NH loses key DNC Rules Committee post

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 19. 2017 11:06AM
RAYMOND BUCKLEY 



New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley of Manchester became one of many victims in a shakeup at the top as new Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez ousted several veteran party leaders who had not backed his bid for the top spot.

Buckley was removed as a longtime member of the Democratic National Committee's Rules Committee.

Buckley is lobbying to get the membership of the DNC to elect him back to the Executive Committee, a panel he had served on since 2001.

Perez stripped Buckley of one of the seats the chairman appoints.

Last year Buckley had run for chairman but dropped out days before the final vote when he endorsed Michigan Congressman Keith Ellison.

After Perez won, he made Ellison his deputy.

"I understand the chair can do as he pleases, but still, it's all just very disappointing," Buckley said, according to Democratic Party spokesman Wyatt Ronan.

Perez announced the changes late Wednesday before the DNC held its summer meeting in Las Vegas, the first one since Perez became the party boss.

Many who were replaced also backed the presidential campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Meanwhile, party leaders are circulating a proposed resolution that calls upon Sanders to drop his status as an independent and become a Democrat before he runs for reelection in the Senate next year.

Buckley was neutral in the presidential primary campaign but he did give full-throated support to the right of Sanders to run as a Democrat in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

A DNC spokesman defended the choices adding that Perez has with his picks made the DNC more ethnically diverse with a record number of Native American and LGBT members.

"This year's slate of at-large DNC member nominees reflects the unprecedented diversity of our party's coalition," DNC spokesman Michael Tyler said.

Perez did install other New Hampshire Democrats in key positions.

DNC member and ex-chairman Kathy Sullivan of Manchester was put on the Rules Committee, which has a lot to do with crafting the presidential primary calendar every four years.

After Buckley dropped out as a candidate for chairman, Sullivan backed Perez.

Perez has pledged to state Democratic leaders that the New Hampshire primary will retain its first-in-the-nation spot.

State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, and DNC member-at-large Joanne Dowdell, both of whom backed Ellison in February, were named by Perez to the DNC Credentials Committee.

Former Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Woodburn said he has no doubt Buckley will remain a key player on the national stage.

"Ray is such a survivor, someone who has been counted out so many times and come through unscathed," Woodburn said.

"We are all disappointed when someone in New Hampshire loses clout because we're such a small state and we consider the first-in-the-nation primary such an important part of our fabric and something that is essential to our democracy."

Greg Moore, the state director of the fiscally-conservative Americans for Prosperity, said it's too soon to know whether this change will hurt the state's national standing.

"Ray is a pro and he knows this is what happens when you pick the wrong horse late," Moore said.

"While I'm sure he's disappointed, he can't be surprised. Certainly the greatest concern here is the impact in the reduction in influence for New Hampshire and how that could impact the first-in-the-nation primary, especially with California working to move its primary up to March.

Actions have consequences and we have to hope that doesn't ultimately undercut our primary. We shall see."

Josh Adjutant of Bristol, an unsuccessful candidate for state representative, said Perez is taking the wrong course.

"I am extremely disappointed at what can only be described as gross mismanagement and misconduct at the upper-levels of the DNC, and the removal from certain committees of someone who I admire and has become a friend of mine, Raymond Buckley," Adjutant posted on Facebook.

Ex-State Sen. Burt Cohen of Portsmouth chipped in with, "Are the corporate DNC types determined to lose yet again in 2018 and 2020? This is sickening."

On Monday, Buckley had taken to social media to protest Perez removing from the party leadership Barbra "Babs" Siperstein, the highest-ranking transgender person in party politics.

"While I respect that Tom can do as he pleases, Babs' dumping strikes me as odd. A number of other at large members who supported Keith (Ellison) were reappointed," Buckley wrote, calling it "very, very upsetting."

Buckley was the first openly gay vice chairman of the DNC when he served in that spot as president of the national association of state Democratic chairs.

klandrigan@unionleader.com


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