The Democratic Party in a key battleground state won by Donald Trump in 2016 and narrowly by Joe Biden in 2020 is currently in a shambles as infighting and other problems raise concerns as the 2024 campaign cycle begins in earnest.
Pennsylvania Democrats were reminded again this week just how bad the party’s problems have become in the state, as reported by Politico, when a mailing went awry.“In anticipation of a major gathering of rural activists a few weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party printed out thousands of cards reminding voters to ‘Vote at Polls: Election Day Tuesday November 8,’” the outlet reported, adding: “There was just one small problem: Election Day is Nov. 7.”The goof-up was, to many within the Pennsylvania party, “the latest sign of a state party in chaos.”Politico added:With a little more than a year to go until the 2024 election, the state Democratic Party is reeling from financial problems and a lack of trust across the party, according to interviews with 20 Democratic officials and operatives throughout Pennsylvania. They include elected officials, county chairs, state committee members, former state party employees and strategists.“It’s amateur hour,” one state committee member who, like other Democrats, was given anonymity so they could frankly address the issues, told Politico.“It’s a f**king disaster,” a former state party staffer added.The state party experienced a series of layoffs in July, which had gone unreported until now. One of its political action committees had a balance of just $7,500 in early June, as disclosed in its latest campaign finance reports. Concerns are growing within the state’s Democratic community regarding the effectiveness of its leadership, including that of state party chair Sharif Street, Politico added.The primary concern is that the party may not be in optimal condition leading up to the upcoming presidential election and a pivotal Senate race next year. Additionally, there is a state Supreme Court election scheduled for November, where Democrats are prominently highlighting their stance on abortion.“It’s concerning that the state party is laying people off as we’re heading into a really important Supreme Court race, which then leads into the presidential year,” Mike Mikus, a Pittsburgh-based Democratic consultant, told the outlet. “They’re going to have to figure out a path forward to build their own fundraising operation, and it sounds like there’s a lot of building to be done right now.”One senior elected Democrat went further: “Pennsylvania is the single biggest battleground state in the country in the presidential election, and we have a total incompetent, lazy guy who has no clue what he’s doing running the state party.”Street, in an interview, emphatically rejected any notions of financial difficulties facing the committee. He pointed out that the state party had received a $700,000 grant earlier in the year from the self-described “pro-democracy” organization democracyFIRST, which had facilitated the hiring of 20 organizers. Additionally, he mentioned that checks for an upcoming fundraiser honoring former Gov. Ed Rendell have already been received.He also said the state party’s federal PAC had $200,000 on hand, per its latest filing.Regarding the layoffs, which included the co-director of the coordinated campaign for the judicial election and a political aide in western Pennsylvania, Street explained that he had to implement them due to concerns raised by national donors. According to him, these donors expressed that the staffing costs were excessive as a consequence of retaining his employees after the 2022 midterms when Democrats secured victories across the state.“I really should have done some of that trimming back last December,” he told the outlet. “But they were people who had won so many elections. We have done things no other party did. And I couldn’t look at any of them in the face and say I wanted to let them go.”Still, troubles persist, and concerns are running high — within the Biden White House and the Democratic National Committee, Politico noted:[T]he highest levels of the Democratic Party have expressed anxiety about the state committee. People who have talked to Biden officials have come away with the impression that they are concerned about it, according to three people familiar with those conversations.
DNC spokesperson Rhyan Lake told Politico about how critical Pennsylvania is and the “sustained, historic investments” the DNC has made in the state party.“As we gear up for the presidential election, the DNC and Biden for President will continue investing heavily in the Keystone State and organizing Pennsylvania voters to reelect President Biden and Vice President Harris,” Lake said.