At Tonight’s MCDP Central Committee Meeting, A Proposal To Make Radical Changes In The MCDP Constitution Will Be Discussed And Voted On

The agenda for this evening’s MCDP Central Committee meeting is the approval of a new MCDP Constitution. The focus of this meeting will be a proposed MCDP Constitution developed by a Constitution Committee chaired by Brandon McClain.

This proposed Constitution calls for a radical change in the structure of the organization. It calls for the newly elected MCDP Central Committee to transfer the power and authority granted by Ohio law to the Central Committee to a greatly expanded MCDP Executive Committee. The elected members of the Central Committee will be members of the new Executive Committee. What is radical is that in addition to these elected members, the proposed Constitution allows for a huge number of Democrats to be appointed to the Executive Committee — up to a 75% increase!

This big increase is radical because it changes the character of the organization. In the traditional structure, when the party makes an endorsement it was by vote of a representative legislative body. The proposed change will mean that the group making endorsements can contain a huge number of appointed unelected members with no obligation of representing grass-roots Democrats.

I’m OK with a new structure merging the Central Committee to the Executive — except for the matter of endorsements. I believe the Central Committee should have one function — debating and voting on endorsements — and the Executive Committee can make other less important decisions.  I think it is a big mistake to undermine the legitimacy of the endorsement process, because it is endorsements that the public is most keenly interested in.

Below is a copy of the document that I am distributing at the meeting this evening — asking support for the four motions that are outlined.

Dear Fellow Member of the MCDP Central Committee:

I appreciate the work of the Constitution Committee, however, I disagree with the radical change outlined in the proposed new MCDP Constitution.

The current 2018 Constitution — in ARTICLE V — empowers the Central Committee as the sole authority to endorse candidates.

 

ARTICLE V. ENDORSEMENT. (Current Constitution)

The Central Committee shall be the sole authority to endorse candidates for public office and issues which will appear on the ballot. Any candidate or issue brought before the Central Committee for endorsement must receive two-thirds (2/3) of the votes of those present and voting. The endorsement of the candidates and issues may follow the procedures outlined in the Bylaws of this Constitution.

 

The proposed Constitution makes a radical change by empowering the Executive Committee with the sole authority to endorse candidates.

 

ARTICLE VII. ENDORSEMENT (Proposed Constitution)

The Executive Committee shall be the sole authority to endorse candidates for public office and issues which will appear on the ballot.…

 

According to state law, the Central Committee is meant to be the “Controlling Committee” with each of its members representing the Democrats in the precinct in which the member lives.187 of us were elected in the May Primary to represent our precincts.

 

It is clearly the intent of state law that the “controlling committee” should be a group democratically chosen, representing the rank-and-file — not a group appointed as insiders, family members, and money contributors, etc. Our Democratic Party is facing a crisis of legitimacy. Our democracy is in deep trouble and most voters and many Democrats see the “Democratic Party” as an organization that is a big part of the problem — part of a rigged system controlled by money and “insiders.”

 

It is of key importance that the MCDP Constitution establish the rules and guardrails that will give us legitimacy and will build confidence in rank-and-file Democrats and in the general public.

 

The proposed Constitution creates an Executive Committee where 75% of its members are appointed and this proposed Constitution indicates no obligation of these appointees to represent rank-and-file Democrats. This means the Executive Committee voting on endorsements will consist of the 187 of us elected in the Democratic Primary, plus as many as 140, or more, new members who are appointed.

 

I appreciate the motive to meaningfully engage 140, or more, Democrats in the work of our organization. But we must guard our legitimacy — particularly concerning endorsements. Imagine the outrage if the Ohio Assembly proposed an Ohio Constitution that called for increasing the voting membership of the Assembly by 75%— by unelected appointees! I believe the expiring Constitution has it right — the Central Committee should have the sole authority to endorse candidates.Please consider the following motions.

 

Thank you. Mike Bock

—————————————————————————————————————

 

MOTION #1:

  • In the proposed Constitution, Section 2-4, add the words,“With the exception of the authority to make endorsements, the Central Committee shall confer upon the Executive Committee all power and authority …”
  • In ARTICLE VI change every use of the term “Executive Committee” to the term, “Central Committee” to read, “The Central Committee shall be the sole authority to endorse candidates …, etc “
  • In paragraph 13, 16, 20, 22 of the BY-Laws change the term “Executive Committee” to the term, “Central Committee”

 

MOTION #2:

Strike paragraph 15 in the proposed BY-LAWS and replace with:

 

Vote on endorsement by shall be by roll-call that records each member’s vote. This roll-call may be by ballot with the member’s signature. This record of vote will sent to every Executive Committee member and will be available to county Democrats upon request.

 

MOTION #3:

Strike paragraph two and three of the proposed BY-LAWS and replace with

 

“The MCDP will make no endorsements for candidates in a Democratic Primary until after the deadline for filing candidacy with the Board of Elections has passed and after the Board of Elections has certified who the Democratic candidates are.”

 

MOTION #4:

Add this to the BY-LAWS:

 

All Executive Committee members will receive notice of Selection Committee endorsement recommendations at least one week prior to the Central Committee meeting where these recommendations will be voted on. Along with this notice of endorsements, all Executive Committee members will also receive a copy of all written material supplied to the Selection Committee from candidates.

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The Proposed MCDP Constitution Needs Revision — So The Anti-democratic Practice Of Early Endorsement In Democratic Primaries Is Prohibited

At Thursday’s (July 28) meeting of the MCDP Central Committee, a new MCDP Constitution will be decided by majority vote of those in attendance. I’m disappointed that the Constitution Committee is recommending a MCDP Constitution that continues a practice that I see as anti-democratic and unfair — the MCDP making early endorsements of Democrats in Democratic Primaries at dates well in advance of the deadlines for Democratic candidates to turn in petitions and declare candidacy. 

The MCDP has been embarrassed by recent endorsements. At last November’s election, the MCDP ended up apologizing for mailers to county Democrats attacking fellow Democrats Darryl Fairchild and Shenise Turner-Sloss seeking election to the Dayton Commission. Fairchild and Turner-Sloss won the election beating the endorsed Democrats Stacey Benson-Taylor and Scott Sliver. 

In 2018, the MCDP endorsed Rev Daryl Ward over Rev. Darryl Fairchild for the Dayton Commission. This endorsement seemed crazy because both were good men and great candidates. The only explanation I could understand was that Rev. Ward evidently had a lot of friends on the Screening Committee.

I see endorsements that choose one qualified Democrat over another in a Democratic Primary as a practice very detrimental to the party. It sends an anti-democratic message. I don’t think there is much hope that the group on Thursday will approve a Constitution that prohibits all Primary endorsements, but I am hopeful that a majority will agree with me that the practice of early endorsements is particularly harmful and will approve a Constitution that prohibits the practice of early endorsements.  

The goal of early endorsements — plainly stated by its advocates — is to suppress Democratic Primary participation. The reason? To save money. The argument is that the money devoted to winning a primary contest would be better spent defeating Republicans in the general election, so a Primary where there is only one Democratic candidate saves money. The second reason given by supporters of Primary endorsements is that a lot of Democratic voters want the party to tell them which Democrat to vote for. The party obliges by spending money to mail voter cards to Democrats instructing them who the party is endorsing in a Democratic Primary.

Endorsements in a Democratic Primary are prohibited by some Democratic Party county organizations. The point of a Primary, after all, is to give voters a choice.  But Primary endorsements is a long established practice in Montgomery County. 

Disappointingly, the Constitution Committee chaired by Brandon McClain, not only empowers Democratic Primary endorsements, it also spells out that a Democratic Primary endorsements can be made very early — long before the deadline for submitting petitions to the Board of Elections. For a May Primary, the deadline to file is in early February.  The proposed Constitution empowers the Executive Committee to endorse a Democratic candidate in December. In December! This is from the proposed Constitution:

 The Screening Committee recommendation shall go to the Executive Committee. The question on the floor shall be “Shall the Executive Committee concur with the Screening Committee’s recommendation.” This shall be a privileged motion; no other action relative to endorsement for a specific office shall be in order until the Executive Committee has acted on this question. In accordance with the Constitution, in order to concur with the Screening Committee recommendation to endorse requires a two-thirds (2/3) affirmative vote of the Executive Committee present and voting.

Early endorsements are effective in suppressing competition in Democratic Primaries. This deliberate suppression of primary participation smells of favoritism and is contrary to what rank-and-file Democrats want. I’m sort of flabbergasted that here in 2022, early endorsement is part of a MCDP Constitution proposal.

A two-thirds vote required for endorsements sounds like a high bar. But, as we know, the result of a vote depends on who shows up to cast a ballot and depends on how informed the voters are. In the past, Central Committee meetings concerning endorsements have been poorly attended. The established practice is that the Selection Committee’s recommendations are not announced prior to the meeting. The explanations for endorsements, given at the last minute, have been insufficient. Members have not had enough information nor have had sufficient time to make thoughtful decisions.

The proposed Constitution empowers a big increase in the number of members who will be enfranchised to vote on MCDP endorsements. The proposed Constitution follows the model of the Ohio Democratic Party Constitution. The ODP Executive Committee has 148 voting members. Only 66 of these voting members are elected in a Democratic Primary — a man and a woman from each of Ohio’s 33 senate districts. The other 82 members of the ODP Executive Committee are appointed. The appointed members are insiders of long-standing. The ODP is an insider’s group — not a representative group. It is easy to understand why many in the rank-and-file are increasingly discouraged with a Democratic Party that is organized in its very structure to greatly advantage a clique of insiders.  

The proposed MCDP Constitution copies the ODP Constitution. It calls for the elected Central Committees to be transformed into the Executive Committee. The advantage is that where the Ohio Revised C     ode requires Central Committee members to live in the precinct they represent, Executive Committee members can live anywhere in the county. Ten Executive Committee members could live in the same precinct. The proposed Constitution says:

The appointed members of the Executive Committee, including automatic appointments, shall not exceed the seventy-five percentage (75%) of the membership of the Central Committee. Further, if any appointed member of the Executive Committee could serve as a Central Committee member then their appointment to the Executive Committee shall be considered as an appointment to the Central Committee.

There are 200 precincts that failed to elect a Central Committee member in the May Democratic Primary. Following the ODP example, any county Democrat can be appointed to “represent” these 200 precincts — and then the total membership of this group can balloon to an increase of 75% more voting members. Friends and spouses and all connected county Democrats are eligible to be invited to be a voting member of the Executive Committee. 

I’m sympathetic with the rationale for creating this Executive Committee structure. The goal, I understand, is to encourage and empower more rank-and-file Democrats to become meaningfully engaged in the party organization. Offering Democrats a voice on the Executive Committee is a strategy to increase participation. Yes, it is crucial for the party to find a way to meaningfully engage and empower rank-and-file Democrats, but this big expansion of the voting membership to insiders and friends means that the endorsement process is even more likely to be seen as illegitimate.

This change in the Constitution allowing a big increase in the membership of the Executive Committee means that it is even more important to establish rules and guardrails for endorsements that will build confidence in the rank-and-file that the process is fair. 

I believe the MCDP Constitution should prohibit all endorsements in a Democratic Primary. But I don’t expect this view to prevail at the Thursday meeting. I hope there will be support in the Thursday meeting for prohibiting early endorsements and for slowing the endorsement process down so that voting members can have the information and the time needed to consult with others and to make thoughtful decisions. 

I am looking for support for two motions at Thursday’s meeting:

  1. The Executive Committee will make no endorsements for candidates in a Democratic Primary until after the deadline for filing candidacy with the Board of Elections has passed and after the Board of Elections has certified who the Democratic candidates are.
  2. All Executive Committee members will receive notice of Selection Committee endorsement recommendations at least one week prior to the Executive Committee meeting where these recommendations will be voted on. Along with this notice of endorsements, Executive Committee members will also receive a copy of all written material supplied to the Selection Committee from candidates. 

 

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186 Democrats Are Elected To The MCDP Central Committee — Many Want Big Changes In The MCDP

At yesterday’s Democratic Primary, 186 Democrats were elected to serve on Montgomery County Democratic Party’s Central Committee. 151 of those elected had no competition; 35 candidates had competition. 122 (66%) of those Democrats elected yesterday are brand new to the MCDP — having never before served on the Central Committee.

Initially, it appeared that 196 Democrats would be elected, but of the 39 ballots for write-in candidates, ten ballots were not approved by the BOE — I’m guessing that somehow the write-in name did not perfectly match the name in the BOE’s records.

County Democrats who are paying attention want some big changes in the local party organization — particularly in light of the fact that this year the local party was unable to find any Democratic candidates to oppose Republican incumbents. The county will return three right-wingers to the Ohio Assembly without opposition — Phil Plumber (OHD-39), Tom Young (OHD-37), and Steven Huffman (OSD-5). These Republicans each have miserable records but because of the MCDP failure, voters will not be able to express their disapproval at the ballot box. This is shameful.

The big challenge for the MCDP is to build a Democratic Party infrastructure throughout the county that at present does not exist. The MCDP needs a campaign to bring many, many more Democrats into membership in the MCDP organization. There are almost 40,000 registered Democrats in the county, but “The Democratic Party” amounts to a very small downtown group. Right now, the MCDP pretty much is simply the Central Committee, and this is a fraction of the size it should be. This year only 49% of the precincts elected a Democrat to serve on the Central Committee.  Pitiful, but an good improvement from 2018, when only 32% of the precincts participated.

One fun fact to share with new members is the fact that the MCDP, as such, doesn’t exist — not as a real organization. It is a list of names, a list of donors, not a real organization. What is called the Montgomery County Democratic Party amounts to just the MCPD Central Committee. The Central Committee should be part of a much larger organization — the Montgomery County Democratic Party. The MCDP must become an organization with a membership much larger than the membership of the Central Committee — even if all 382 precincts elect members.

I made an Excel matrix of the candidates and did an on-line research of each. I then gave each a score from 1 to 5 — indicating my evaluation of the candidate’s receptivity to change in the MCDP. Score of 1 indicates the candidate is very receptive to change, and a score of 5 indicates the candidate is very resistant to change.  Here is the result:

      • 1 Seeking major change          37 members
      • 2 Receptive to change             74 members
      • 3 Undetermined                        19 members
      • 4 Resistant to change              24 members
      • 5 Defends the status quo        32 members

The MCDP needs a major restructuring — to inspire and empower hundreds, thousands, of county Democrats to become meaningfully engaged. According to my calculation 110 of 186 members (59%) newly elected to the Central Committee are either seeking major change or are receptive to implementing significant changes in the MCDP. Most all Democrats agree that the crisis of our time requires a strong, effective, consequential Democratic Party. This quadrennial Reorganization is a big opportunity — and obligation — for Central Committee members to agree on a plan of action.

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