Amy Dacey is the chief executive officer of the Democratic National Committee.
She was selected by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 2013. Since she began her position as CEO, Dacey has lead the organization during state primaries and is also involved in finances for the committee.
During their conversation, Larry Mantle and Dacey discuss how a competitive presidential primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders impacts the Democratic party. Plus the ongoing controversy over how the DNC organized the primary debate schedule; ideological schisms between Sanders and Clinton supporters; and the power of superdelegates.
Here are some highlights from their interview:
Come the general election, let’s say Hillary Clinton is the nominee, are you concerned that younger voters have so decisively gone with Bernie Sanders, even younger women; and that it may make it hard to energize those voters to come out and support the Clinton general election candidacy if she’s the nominee?
Amy Dacey: I know that when we get to the general election that everybody’s going to come together. Certainly our candidates are going to come together because they know what’s at stake. And I think, no matter what, the individuals who voted during the primary and primary process will see the strike contrast with Donald Trump, who is the presumptive nominee of the Republican party, and when they see that contrast . . . they’ll want to preserve all the accomplishments that we’ve been able to make under the Obama administration, and look forward to the other things we’re going to accomplish in the future as well.
What are the fundraising challenges that a political party faces today in the era of the Super PAC, when it can be easy for donors to give large amounts of monies to Super PACs to run independent campaigns on behalf of or against particular candidates? What is the party's come-on to donors versus the PACs?
Dacey: We always would hope to have more resources to do more outreach and a lot of what we’ve done is [become] smarter with the dollars that we get. Certainly at the Democratic party, we work with our partner organizations like the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to make sure we’re working together, to make sure our resources go farther, and a lot of that is also the partnerships we’re building with the state parties, because we know these decisions are made in the grassroots and on the ground.
A lot of what we’re doing right now in the investments that the donors make are not just to win elections in the short-term, but it’s certainly to build and make sure we have a competitive advantage in the future; and to build long-term programs for party building and to make sure we’re winning races, not just in this important election in 2016. We wanna win races in 2018, in 2020, especially with redistricting, we know what long-term investments make. So for us, it’s really looking at the short and the long-term and taking those resources as far as we can go.
Have you been a bit surprised to see, particularly younger women, express skepticism about Hillary Clinton and embrace Bernie Sanders instead of a woman with this chance to make history?
Dacey: I think the exciting part of this primary is that people are really, on the Democratic side, finding someone to get interested in. And I think both candidates really have shared some of these core values that women and men care about. Whether it’s paid leave for families, whether it’s equal pay or whether it’s making sure they can afford college for their children, and then making sure we protect the 20 million people who are now on health insurance because of ACA, I think a lot of people are looking through the primary process -- looking through to decide who their candidate is. But the good news is, that both of those candidates can represent them in a general election.
Hawaii Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard, resigned as the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders. She had been critical of the debate schedule and gave the impression that she felt the DNC wasn’t playing fair. What’s your response to her decision and where she came from on this whole dispute with the DNC?
Dacey: I think she knew there was a neutrality for the officers and sometimes you feel very strongly about a candidate and want to support them through this primary and caucus. I respect the fact that she thought the best that she could do was to resign and go and work with the Sanders campaign. And I saw her recently at one of our debates and we both commented that we’re looking forward to working together in the general election.
Angie writes on the AirTalk page, “With all of the problems and voter suppressing incidents that have occurred in Arizona, would it be best to look into a re-vote? Perhaps an absentee voting campaign is an order?” Angie's referring to the fact that so many of the precincts had been closed in Arizona's primary. There were very long waits for people to vote and a lot of concerns that people who intended to vote in the Democratic primary didn’t get a chance to do so. Your response to those problems?
Dacey: I think that just shows how important our voter protection program is at the DNC. That was a state-run primary. And when you see sometimes that when Republicans are making decisions . . . sometimes they make decisions to make it harder to vote. That’s why this election is so important. We have to elect Democrats up and down the ticket. We have to make sure that they're making decisions to make it easier and more accessible for people to vote, and then you won’t have issues like you saw in Arizona.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity
Amy Dacey, CEO of the Democratic National Committee