* I’ve been able to confirm that Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) has been named the interim executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois. He’ll serve through the fall campaign, and then a new search for a permanent director will commence. The position became vacant when Tim Mapes was forced out as Speaker Madigan’s right hand man over a #MeToo controversy.
Mitchell has plenty of campaign experience, not only in a couple of his own hard-fought primaries, but also working for President Obama’s Midwest operation and Tammy Duckworth’s Senate campaign. He worked for The Strategy Group, so you can see the rest of his bio by clicking here. I think he’ll have the chops to do this job.
Rep. Mitchell was also an early supporter of JB Pritzker’s campaign, so this appointment shows yet again that the Pritzker folks are not going to just sit back and let Speaker Madigan run the entire show. DPI’s search committee for a new executive director was co-chaired by Rep. Juliana Stratton, Pritzker’s running mate.
* And speaking of Pritzker, expect an announcement sometime today from Rep. Mitchell about a new $1 million voter registration project funded by Pritzker and run by the DPI. It will reportedly focus on flippable districts.
DPI has long been criticized for focusing exclusively on Speaker Madigan’s House priorities. Those days may be over, but Madigan is still the party chairman, so we’ll see. Last month, the party named longtime Madigan loyalist Mary Morrissey as Chief Operating Officer and promoted DPI staffer Emily Wurth to the job of Chief Financial Officer.
…Adding… Rep. Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford) had been interested in the job (she gave up her seat to run as Daniel Biss’ running mate) and she’s not exactly ecstatic…
Although there was no clear application, submission, or selection process for individuals who were interested in the position of Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Illinois to participate in, an individual has been selected. I would like to wish my colleague Rep. Christian Mitchell all the best in his new role as Executive Director of our party. I will continue efforts to move our party forward, which means ridding ourselves of the issues of power and oppression inherent to systemic racism and sexism, even as we work to elect candidates that value the rights of all.
…Adding… Press release…
Today, members of the Democratic Party of Illinois Search Committee announced State Representative Christian Mitchell as the new Interim Executive Director of the state party, Mary Morrissey as the Chief Operating Officer, and Emily Wurth as the Chief Financial Officer. The historic announcement will make Mitchell the first African-American to serve in the role.
Representative Mitchell currently serves as state representative for the 26th District and brings his background as a grassroots organizer and communications professional to the role. As state representative, Mitchell has played an instrumental role in standing up for women’s rights, fighting for criminal justice reform, and advocating for Illinois’ working families. Prior to serving as state representative, Mitchell served as the Midwest Director of Paid Media and Polling for Obama for America, senior advisor for Tammy Duckworth’s U.S. Senate campaign, Director of External Affairs for Cook County government, and as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago.
The committee’s announcement comes after making their selection and with the support of Chairman Madigan, the JB Pritzker campaign, and other Democratic leaders across the state.
“I am so proud to announce State Representative Christian Mitchell has been selected as the Interim Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Illinois,” said search committee co-chair Juliana Stratton. “As a community organizer, Christian is part of a new generation of leaders who know how to build grassroots movements and win campaigns. As a state representative, Christian was critical in the fight to pass the ERA and has a strong record of protecting a woman’s right to choose, standing up for our working families, and building a more inclusive economy. And as the first African-American Executive Director in the history of the Democratic Party of Illinois, I am confident he will play an essential role in building a party that reflects the diversity of our state and helps us win up and down the ticket, in every corner of Illinois.”
Notice that the press release not only was issued by Stratton, she’s the only one quoted. I’m not yet sure if Speaker Madigan will issue his own release. Stay tuned.
*** UPDATE 1 *** From Rep. Mitchell…
Today, State Representative Christian Mitchell was historically selected as the new interim Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Illinois and released the following statement:
“I’m honored to accept the role of interim Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Illinois,” said State Rep. Christian Mitchell. “I look forward to doing the work necessary to assure Democratic victories up and down the ticket and charting a new and inclusive path forward for our party. Together, I know we can build a party that represents the diversity of our state, listens to our young people, and relentlessly fights for the values that make Illinois strong.
“In my work in Democratic politics, I’ve seen the power of bringing people together and building from the grassroots up to win – and that is exactly what we’ll do in November. To that end, I’m excited to announce that my first action as interim Executive Director is to launch a new voter registration initiative in partnership with the JB Pritzker for Governor campaign. This $1 million initiative will help us reach voters in districts where a strong Democratic turnout from new or unregistered voters could flip seats and lead Democrats to victory up and down the ballot. We’re going to win in November and move our communities forward. I’m so proud to help lead that fight.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** From the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chair Sen. Kimberly Lightford…
“We are so proud of today’s historic announcement naming our colleague, State Representative Christian Mitchell, as the next interim executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois. We believe it is essential that our party reflects the diversity that makes our state great, and today’s announcement shows the Democratic Party shares that commitment. With Christian’s background building grassroots campaigns and fighting for working families, we know he is the right person to chart the way forward for the Democratic party and help us win up and down the ticket, in every community.”
*** UPDATE 3 *** Pearson…
The choice of a man by the all-women panel was somewhat unexpected because the fallout from the #MeToo movement has plagued Democrats under Madigan, who also serves as the party’s chairman. […]
“People tried to make the best decision going through the election,” said Lauren Beth Gash, Democratic state central committeewoman for the 10th Congressional District and a former state lawmaker. “There are many people who would be qualified, but Christian’s experience in this arena is unique.” […]
Additionally, the choice of Mitchell and the involvement of Pritzker’s campaign team may represent a broadening of the state Democratic Party’s role into down-ballot contests across the state.
“I would like to see that,” Gash said. “I believe that (Mitchell’s appointment) does that.”
*** UPDATE 4 *** Interesting…
*** UPDATE 5 *** And now Kelly Cassidy. Another MJM critic…