Former vice president Joe Biden’s presidential campaign installed new administrative leadership at the Democratic National Committee on Friday, as the two organizations moved to forge a new deal that will allow for a dramatic expansion of fundraising capacity in the coming months.
The national party’s chief executive officer, Seema Nanda, a longtime adviser to party chairman Tom Perez, will be replaced by Mary Beth Cahill, a senior adviser to the national party who previously managed John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.
The announcement came as the party and the Biden campaign said they would sign a joint fundraising agreement Friday, called the “Biden Victory Fund,” that will allow the unofficial nominee to raise $360,600 each from individual donors to help the coordinated campaign. Donors to Biden’s effort had been limited to donations of $2,800 for his primary and general election campaigns.
The initial joint fundraising agreement, an interim measure meant to speed money into the Biden operation, will be expanded in the coming weeks to include state parties, raising the maximum donation amounts further for wealthy individuals, a party official said.
The decisions mark the first major public moves by Biden’s new campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon.
“As we gear up and build out our operation for the next six months, Mary Beth’s experience running presidential campaigns and managing the kind of complex operation it takes to win a general election will be invaluable,” O’Malley Dillon said in a statement. “I am thrilled to have her as a partner in this fight.”
The moves are likely to temper growing concerns among Democratic strategists about the slow pace of Biden’s transition from a small primary campaign to a more formidable general election operation. Joint fundraising agreements, which allow for single donations to be split among party accounts, are a core feature of presidential campaigns in the current campaign finance environment.
Trump has been raising money through a similar vehicle for more than a year, and in 2012, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney entered into an agreement with the Republican Party weeks before his last remaining rival, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., left the race. The party’s last Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, formed a joint fundraising deal with the DNC months before she sealed the nomination. Biden’s move, by contrast, occurred 16 days after Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., became the last Biden rival to suspend his campaign.
As a close adviser to Perez, Cahill led the search process that resulted in Nanda’s hiring in 2018, worked closely with the party’s recent attempts to improve its data program and was in charge of organizing the presidential debate process.
Nanda, who had worked as Perez’s chief of state at the Department of Labor and as a former Justice Department attorney, faced criticism during her tenure for her lack of political experience. She will depart after a period of transition, officials said.
In an email to staff Friday, Nanda said she would step down from her position next week and called the organization she is leaving “the strongest party in modern DNC history.”
“Our unity is our greatest strength and yes, we will shed the shackles of this disastrous presidency,” she wrote. “And I couldn’t be more thankful for this remarkable opportunity to have worked alongside you.
Biden’s first campaign manager, Greg Schultz, is expected to continue to coordinate the Biden campaign’s integration with the DNC and state parties.
Both Perez and O’Malley Dillon praised Nanda’s oversight of the party.
“Seema spent two years building an organization that has left the DNC in the strongest position it has been in before a Presidential election in recent history,” said Perez said in a statement.
Since taking over the Biden campaign on March 12, O’Malley Dillon has not announced any major hires, and the broader Biden campaign effort continues to be dwarfed in both its cash on hand and staffing by the much larger Trump operation.
In recent weeks, the DNC has begun the process of bringing on some of the former field organizers for former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg’s campaign, following his transfer of $18 million to the national party. Other outside groups are preparing to assist the party.
One outside group, called Organizing Together, has amassed a staff of more than 100 field organizers in presidential battleground states, which it will stop employing at some point this summer. At that point, the network of volunteers and organizers will be available to be absorbed by the coordinated campaign or other groups to work through the general election.
“Our goal is to ensure that we put Joe Biden in the best position possible to beat Donald Trump, and this joint fundraising agreement allows us to do just that,” Cahill said in a statement. “Americans are hungry for new leadership in the White House and are uniting around our nominee.”