As the old saying goes, one man’s loss is another man’s gain.
In the case of Jaime Harrison, who was expected to be selected to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), that adage was taking on a new significance. After all, he lost his Senate campaign in South Carolina to incumbent Lindsay Graham, a fierce Trump loyalist. But two months later, all of his hard work done on behalf of Democrats won him the right to govern the entire Party.
Conversely, Harrison’s gains of good graces within the Democratic Party also mean that his predecessor will lose his job, something to which critics of the now lame-duck DNC Chair Tom Perez were reacting with two words: “good riddance.”
The New York Times reported Thursday that Joe Biden intends to pick Harrison to succeed Perez based in part of the upstart politician’s ability to raise a record-shattering amount of money for his Senate campaign. Harrison, a former lobbyist raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina, who attended Yale University, set a Senate fundraising record with $57 million in the final full quarter of the campaign season.
With that kind of a financial windfall at his and the Party’s disposal, critics found it inexplicable how Harrison ended up losing the race. They placed the blame squarely on Perez’s shoulders.
While many thought the conventional wisdom was to choose Democratic all-star Stacey Abrams to lead the DNC, it appears the voting rights icon may have her sights set on avenging her gubernatorial loss in Georgia, making Harrison the next logical choice for the job.
There was an enduring cry for a change in leadership at the DNC, which Perez has directed for nearly four years. In that time, Perez has been the target of critics who have complained about everything from his commitment to Black women to his ability to command confidence from his own Party in the DNC.
Months after Perez assumed the position, a group of Black women, including activists, community leaders, elected officials and others, released an open letter they sent him calling for a meeting to discuss the state of Black women and the Party. One year later, Congressional Black Caucus members passed a vote of no confidence against Perez.
Perez has praised Black women for leading the Party to victory in key races over the years. However, when it came to several Black women candidates in the 2018 races, Democrats showed little support initially, like in the case of Ayanna Pressley. Yet those same Black women stepped up as voters and candidates alike to help the Party regain control of the House and Senate.
There was also the 2020 Iowa Caucuses debacle during which the DNC waffled on accepting blame for its involvement in developing the faulty smartphone app that delayed the contest’s results and invited a ton of scrutiny on the Democratic Party, which reportedly ignored warnings in advance.
Harrison taking over the DNC could be a blessing in disguise for Perez, who was described in a 2019 New York Times profile as being unhappy with “the worst job in American politics.”