DNC Chair Hopefuls Skip Women's March for David Brock Donor Retreat

Only South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg joined nationwide anti-Trump protests

January 21, 2017

As grassroots Democrats around the country rallied against President Donald Trump on Saturday, most of the candidates to lead the Democratic Party gathered at a Florida resort for an exclusive donor retreat.

Of the seven candidates vying to chair the Democratic National Committee, only South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg joined one of the anti-Trump marches in his home town.

The other six candidates traveled to Aventura, Fla., where Democratic operative David Brock assembled deep-pocketed donors at the ritzy Turnberry Isle Resort over the weekend to pitch his network of left-wing political groups and their Trump-era activities.

On Saturday afternoon, as hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of Washington D.C. and cities around the country, Brock hosted a panel discussion featuring Minn. Rep. Keith Ellison, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison, and New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley.

A fifth DNC chair candidate, Idaho Democratic Party executive director Sally Boynton Brown, posted a brief note on Facebook wishing all the marchers well. A geotag on the note indicated it was posted from Aventura.

Another, former Fox News contributor Jehmu Greene, tweeted that she regretted to have to miss the Women's March, but would be attending the Brock conference instead.

Other DNC chair candidates who didn’t join the marches also took to social media to voice their support.

Perez tweeted out a clip of his Friday appearance on the HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher along with an encouraging note about the protests.

Harrison and Buckley also tweeted their support. As of publication, Ellison had not done so.

The prospective DNC chairs are vying to lead a party that is still reeling from a Hillary Clinton loss that some in the party have blamed on elements embodied by Brock, a longtime Clinton loyalist and bare-knuckled political brawler.

A month after Clinton's loss, Democratic operative Jeff Weaver, the campaign manager for Clinton primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, warned Democrats against putting faith in Brock's vision for the party.

"Hopefully, the Democratic Party re-establishes faith with the American working class in every zip code by authentically offering a bold and positive vision—a vision with no room for the ineffective gutter politics that benefit Mr. Brock and his friends," Weaver wrote.

He singled out the precise groups that donors had gathered in Aventura this weekend to help finance, including Super PAC American Bridge and rapid response dark money group Media Matters.

"Brock himself stands to lose substantially if the Democratic Party engages in the type of introspection that is required," Weaver wrote. "Brock ran a number of pro-Clinton organizations in the last campaign season, including a legally suspect Super PAC."

Update: This post has been updated to include Jehmu Greene's location during the day's festivities.