Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, seen here speaking before the Democratic presidential debates in Detroit, h
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, seen here speaking before the Democratic presidential debates in Detroit, has sought to assuage wary state party leaders.

The Democratic National Committee announced Monday that it is funding full-time staff in eight presidential election battleground states, showing its commitment to state-level investment early in the election cycle.

The central party body, which oversees the presidential nominating process and provides support for general-election efforts across the country, is financing the hiring in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Though the DNC is funding the new personnel, the Democratic Party in each of the individual states will employ them.

The funding for those states’ organizers, which will be responsible for outreach to voters in key constituencies, comes from the DNC’s State Party Innovation Fund. The DNC did not provide a dollar figure for the investment, but said it was larger than comparable investments at this stage in the 2016 election cycle.

“Organizing at the community level is our highest priority as the DNC,” Muthoni Wambu Kraal, the DNC’s national political and organizing director, said in a statement.People are our most powerful resource in this election ― from rural and urban communities, to secular and nonsecular communities, to voters of every ethnicity, age, and background.”

The investment, which the DNC emphasized is the first of several rounds of funding, provides a look at states that national Democrats believe can propel them to victory against President Donald Trump in November 2020. In particular, the funding for Texas, a historically conservative state where Democrats have been gaining, is likely to raise some eyebrows.

The roles for which the funding is earmarked also offer an idea of the demographic groups that Democrats see as most essential to their bids. The DNC is funding the positions of Latinx and Native American outreach directors in Arizona; African American and Latino constituency directors in Florida; an African American outreach director in Michigan; a constituency outreach director in Texas; a youth vote director and rural organizing staff in Wisconsin; rural organizing and constituency outreach staff in Pennsylvania; Asian-American and Pacific Islander and Latinx organizing staff in Nevada; and grassroots outreach staff in Colorado.

“We need people from all walks of life to organize and create the change this country needs,” Wambu Kraal said. “And that requires the early investments the DNC is rolling out now.”

Since Chairman Tom Perez took over the DNC in February 2017, he has sought to repair relations between the party committee and state-level parties still reeling from the neglect they felt they endured during the Obama presidency. Notwithstanding major funding challenges, Perez quickly increased the DNC’s monthly payments to the state parties from $7,500 to $10,000.

Still, Perez has periodically been at odds with some state party officials over matters including his endorsement in the New York gubernatorial primary, the makeup of a centralized data trust, and even the dissemination of grants from the State Party Innovation Fund. 

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