WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has shifted the remnants of his campaign operation, including the donor and volunteer network that got him elected and several key staff members, over to the Democratic National Committee as part of a broader effort to build up the party before the 2022 midterm elections and a potential 2024 reelection campaign.
The decision to house his operation at the national party, and to continue fundraising and organizing efforts there, is intended to signal his commitment to Democratic candidates at all levels, including members of the House and Senate who are supporting his legislative efforts, according to senior White House officials.
Top advisers say Biden is not expected to create a committee for his own reelection until after the midterm elections next year. That means that the money he raises between now and then will go to broader party-building efforts and other candidates, a departure from the precedent-breaking approach taken by President Donald Trump, who filed paperwork to began fundraising for own his reelection on the day he took office in 2017.
Advisers to Biden said that committees now associated with the president, including the transition, the DNC and the inauguration committees, have raised about $50 million since the 2020 election.
“We feel like there is a real value proposition,” White House deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign chief, said about the decision to use the national party as Biden’s primary vehicle. “The president really has built his vision for this from the campaign. There was a great partnership from the DNC and the state parties.”
The decision also charts a different course than the approach taken by President Barack Obama in 2009, when he tried to maintain a separate political identity for his former campaign apparatus, rebranded as Organizing For America, inside the DNC. After his reelection in 2012, Obama transferred his political operation and his campaign donor and volunteer network to a separate nonprofit group, Organizing for Action, which operated independently for several years.
Those decisions were criticized by Democratic lawmakers, who resented outside political pressure from their own president, and by party insiders, who said that Obama’s focus on keeping his donor pool attached to his own brand allowed a withering of the party’s national infrastructure.
O’Malley Dillon, a former executive director of the DNC, said Biden was committed to continuing the investment in the state parties that began in 2017 under former DNC chair Tom Perez.
“Of course we are going to keep that program going,” she said in an interview Tuesday.
— White House senior adviser Anita Dunn said that Biden’s plan to focus on the midterms instead of his reelection arises in part because many of the high-profile races in 2022 will take place in states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona, which are likely to be central to Democratic hopes in 2024 for keeping the White House. Democrats have a narrow House advantage and 50 Senate seats, the minimum allowing for control.
“This president is committed to passing one of the most ambitious programs any president has thought of since FDR, and he understands the importance of making sure the people who support him in Congress, and who are going to take those votes, are feeling supported,” Dunn said.
Though Biden, 78, has not yet publicly committed to running for reelection, he made clear during the last election that he was not running to be a one-term president. His advisers have been working under the assumption that he will top the Democratic ticket in 2024.
The DNC announced several new hires on Tuesday to support the broader operation. Jose Nunez, a former digital organizing director for Biden, will become the party’s deputy chief mobilization officer for organizing. Alana Mounce, who oversaw the Biden campaign’s efforts in Nevada, is joining the DNC as political director
Roger Lau, who managed the presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), is also joining the DNC as deputy executive director, reporting to executive director Sam Cornale, a former top adviser to former chair Perez.
“The Democratic Party is stronger today thanks to the thousands of campaign staffers that Roger has hired, trained, and mentored,” Warren said in a statement about Lau’s hiring. “I know he will continue to build a powerful bench at the DNC and at the state parties across all 50 states and the territories.”
The party is also hiring Clay Middleton, a longtime political adviser to new Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison, who will join the national party as a senior adviser.
“It is the honor of a lifetime to partner with President Biden on the enormous task at hand,” Harrison said Tuesday in a statement. “We’ve gotten right to work, building on the down-ballot infrastructure that has been a hallmark of our success the past four years and working together to achieve the Biden agenda so we can win elections up and down the ballot.”
Several other DNC officials are taking on new roles for the party. Patrice Taylor, the party’s longtime keeper of party rules, will become a senior adviser. Lauren Williams, who managed direct marketing at the committee, will become deputy chief mobilization director for grassroots fundraising. Monica Guardiola, the former deputy chief operations officer at the DNC, has been promoted to chief operations officer.
Over the coming months, Harrison, working with the White House, will oversee the appointment of 75 at-large members of the national party, a significant share of the party’s total voting membership of about 450. He will also be in charge of reappointing the key committees that handle the party’s affairs, including the Rules and Bylaws committee, which oversees the presidential nomination process.
As happens every four years, Democrats are debating their presidential election calendar, which leads off with caucuses in Iowa — which suffered in 2020 from a malfunctioning vote-counting system — and a primary in New Hampshire. Neither of the states, largely white, reflects the party’s diversity.
Democratic Party officials in the two leadoff states have expressed concern about potential changes to the nominating calendar that could diminish their role going forward.
Former chairperson Perez has made clear that he has concerns about the caucus process, and he has called for more racially diverse states to hold the first recognized contests of the presidential contests. Democrats in Nevada, who normally hold the second caucus of the nominating season, are seeking to shift their nominating process to a primary before 2024, potentially upsetting the order of states.
The Rules and Bylaws committee has been ordered to conduct a comprehensive review of the rules that governed the 2020 nominating process. That report, following at least one public hearing, is due by the end of March.