Spring 2019 State Commitee Meeting

On Monday, March 4, 2019, the New York State Democratic Committee convened for its Spring Meeting in Westchester, New York. While the Fall 2018 meeting was quite contentious, this meeting left me feeling hopeful for progress within our Party. Jay Jacobs, the nominee for and soon to be elected Chairman of the Committee, promised to work with State Committee Members to make the party “an effective, strong, and functioning, governing organization,” noting that priorities include: fundraising and using money to help key districts, staffing up the State Party, and working with County Chairs to integrate their needs into the Party’s mission. He also promised to remain active and accountable.

The meeting began with opening remarks by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who set the tone for the day stating how we as Democrats need to work together going into 2020. 

The first item on the agenda was the Rural Caucus meeting, though unfortunately the Rural Caucus did not have a quorum so they were unable to vote on items but did hold a vibrant discussion on fusion voting, as one of the agenda items for the full Committee was to vote whether to ban fusion voting. Fusion voting is when two or more Parties on the ballot list the same candidate and the votes are pooled for that candidate. This topic was a bit divisive among the Members, but more on that later.

Next, I attended the Progressive Caucus meeting where we discussed the rules reforms that myself and others on the Rules Reform Subcommittee had been working on and would be voting on later in the day. The three reforms on the table were:

  1. A resolution instructing the Party to purchase and utilize an electronic voting system at State Committee Meetings; 
  2. A rule change to provide candidates who seek election as an Officer, Executive Committee Member, or Democratic National Committee Member the opportunity to have a one-page information sheet about their candidacy included in the official meeting notice packets that are distributed to State Committee Members prior to meetings; and
  3. A rule change to require candidate for these same leadership positions to notify the Party of their intent to run 15 days in advance (with 10 supporting signatures), and requiring the Party to include a list of all candidates in the official meeting notice packets (Note: we later agreed to remove the signature requirement and amended this rule to still allow nominations from the floor). 

All three won the support of the Progressive Caucus. The Progressive Caucus also voted to support the ban on fusion voting (I voted against this, but again, more on this later).  I will be updating my website to include a document repository, and will link to the full text of each resolution. 

Next we attended the Executive Committee meeting. The Treasurer reported that the State Committee has $652,582.46, Jay Jacobs was then officially nominated for and voted in as Chair, and resolutions were discussed. The Executive Committee voted to move all four resolutions (with the aforementioned amendment) to the floor for a full Committee vote. 

After, we attended the full State Committee Meeting, which Byron Brown, the previous Chair who was stepping down, presiding. At first Mr. Brown refused to acknowledge the amended minutes we had submitting which reflected what really happened at the last meeting, but one of my colleagues requested leadership read the minutes as they were written, and the full Committee voted to approve the amended minutes (a win for reformer!). 

Jay Jacobs then presided over the meeting, and we had a lively discussion on all four resolutions. Here is how I voted and how the Committee voted:

  1. Resolution to Ban Fusion Voting -
    1. We first voted to table this (I voted YES to table), but that vote did not pass. 
    2. I voted NO. I voted against the ban as I felt it targeted smaller parties and divides the Democratic party, as Democrats in rural regions often rely on fusion voting (running on the Democratic line and another line) to help win elections. Furthermore, we should first look at things like banning confusing Party names (like the "Independence Party") or consider things like Ranked Choice Voting.
    3. The Party voted in favor of the ban, and the ban passed.
  2. Resolution to use an electronic voting system and count weighted votes - 
    1. I voted YES.
    2. The vote passed the full body (win!).
  3. Resolution to change the rules to provide candidates running for Party leadership the opportunity to share information on their candidacy with State Committee Members in advance of elections - 
    1. I voted YES. 
    2. The vote passed the full body (win!).
  4. Resolution to change the rules so that candidates must give notice of intent to run for Party leadership positions (with revisions allowing a certain nominations from the floor and eliminating the signature requirements) - 
    1. I voted YES. 
    2. The vote passed the full body (win!).

The meeting (which went much differently from the last one!) was then adjourned, and I left feeling hopeful for our Party and excited to work with Chairman Jay Jacobs.