Democratic National Committee CEO Jess O’Connell is stepping down after about eight and a half months while the party continues its recovery effort following its defeat in 2016.
NBC News reported O’Connell’s impending departure Monday night, and DNC chairman Tom Perez credited O’Connell with helping lift the party out of its difficult position. The party was in financial trouble even as it dealt with embarrassing revelations about favoritism in its presidential primary, in which Hillary Clinton was nominated over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).
"When Jess walked in the door, the Democratic Party was broken," Perez wrote.
"Jess O'Connell joined the DNC at a time when our party needed it the most," Perez said in a statement. "She helped build our ‘Every Zip Code Counts' strategy, oversaw unprecedented programming and support for state parties and campaigns, renewed our focus on data and technology, and helped lead us to 100+ victories in elections all across the country in 2017."
O’Connell has overseen day-to-day operations while Perez has led the party as chairman, and she said described stepping down as a way to "pass the baton."
"Rebuilding the party will take time. While it isn't an easy task, we developed a strategy, we implemented it, and we won races up and down the ballot in 2017," O’Connell said in a statement. "While I've made the decision to pass the baton, our work remains far from over and under Tom Perez's leadership and direction, our party will continue to build on the progress we've made in 2017."
O’Connell had a senior role in Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign, and she was one of the voices calling for alleged sexual harasser Burns Strider to be ousted. She and other staffers were "overruled" by Clinton and Strider stayed.