From: Laurence Zakson <>
Date: December 22, 2016 at 1:18:13 PM PST
To: Laurence Zakson <>
Cc: "Dr. Peter Kreysa" <>
Subject: DNC Chair's Race and the Electoral College
Dear Democratic Party Leader:

The DNC has decided to live stream the DNC Chair debates being held his winter.  ​My colleague, Jess Durfee, is urging County Parties to hold forum watch parties.  I think that's a great idea.  I don't have specific times yet, but will forward those when I get them.

Meanwhile, the race is heating up and it's getting kind of late for anyone new to join.  Despite the fact I have a vote, I don't know a lot more than the general public does, although I've been repeatedly contacted by representatives of Rep. Keith Ellison and Labor Secretary Tom Perez to see if I have made a decision.  I had a brief chat with Rep. Ellison before he decided that he'd resign his seat in Congress if he were elected DNC Chair and that he'd work full-time as Chair.  With that obstacle to my serious consideration out the way, I hope I get to talk to him again.  Meanwhile, Secretary Perez's surrogates have been lobbying me and I hope to speak to him soon.  I, of course, know DNC Vice-Chair Raymond Buckley and have been reading his posts with interest.  I haven't heard from Jaime Harrison, Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party.  Rumors of a feminist leader, like Ilyse Hogue, jumping in haven't really panned out--so far.

For what it's worth, I believe there is a consensus--at least among those I talk to--that the party needs to: really invest in state parties (as it did in the days of Gov. Howard Dean); help state parties recruit and elect progressive and partisan Democrats to legislatures involved in redistricting; help state parties build a deep bench that is as diverse and representative of each state as possible; raise a warchest and create a strong fundraising infrastructure that fosters small donors; and help design and disseminate outreach materials that explain who we are, why party matters and what Democrats have done and will do, when elected.  Personally, I strongly support Secretary Perez's suggestion that we have high level DNC staff specifically dedicated to battling voter suppression and monitoring and developing strategies around state redistricting efforts.   While I think developing infrastructure for victory is key, I know that without the White House or either House of Congress in our control, we need someone to tell our story.  I'm certain that this means the Chair must be articulate and knowledgeable, but I'm interested in feedback about whether informed Democrats believe it is important that the new Chair already has a national profile.

Turning to the electoral college, thanks to the generosity of Congressman Adam Schiff, I was able to cast one of California's 55 electoral votes for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.  You can see photos on my facebook page.

I also used my status as an elector to join in the effort of my DNC colleague, Christine Pelosi, and other electors to request a briefing on Russian interference in our elections.  Of course, nothing came of that, but I think it was an important statement.  I also was privileged to second Christine's motion, at the electoral college, to call on Congress to investigate that interference.  The motion passed unanimously. 

Finally, as an elector, I did get a tiny bit of publicity and used that to advocate for the abolition of the electoral college in favor of direct election of our President and Vice-President.  You can see an interview where I advocate abolition of the electoral college on the Sacramento NBC affiliate here, .

You can see a similar interview I did with the Beverly Hills Press here (at page 6).

Just to be clear, the opinions I express on the electoral college are mine alone, but I plan to keep advocating for direct election over the next three years.

I hope you have a happy and health new year and that 2017 is a brighter year than the last quarter of this year has been.

Democratically yours,

Laurence Zakson,
Member, Democratic National Committee (CA)