Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x5 - Cassidy, Hampton approve *** Rep. Christian Mitchell named interim executive director of DPI
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*** UPDATED x5 - Cassidy, Hampton approve *** Rep. Christian Mitchell named interim executive director of DPI

Tuesday, Jul 10, 2018

* 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…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ok - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 9:21 am:

    I hear the sounds of wolves howling and eagles calling, as spirit animals all over the midwest unite to save the kingdom.

  2. - Colin O'Scopy - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 9:32 am:

    This is a safe move and arguably a good move. Christian Mitchell is organized and well-seasoned as a political operative.

    In the coming weeks, we will see more “shoring up” by Mr. Madigan as he moves to inoculate himself from further #MeToo damage by minimizing any unforeseen threats to his speakership from other angles. All-in-all, a shrewd move.

  3. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 9:34 am:

    Clearly if you went against the Speaker’s guy, you need not apply.

  4. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 9:36 am:

    The DPI should be desperate for new leadership—people who are strong fighters and have modern messaging. Rauner attacks Madigan and Democrats, and the fire needs to be returned daily or very often. Why let a guy who is open about getting rich from the “corrupt system” he’s trying to bust apart get away with this hypocrisy?

  5. - TopHatMonocle - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 9:41 am:

    He’ll be able to do the job, and probably a good job at that. But whether you like it or not it would have looked much better if a woman was selected. Also draws a clear line to Madigan, there has to be someone qualified for this job that hasn’t voted for Madigan to be speaker.

  6. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 9:44 am:

    Although it’s not the most important distinction between the party’s new interim executive director and its chairman, I find it noteworthy that Rep. Mitchell doesn’t shun that new-fangled ’social media’.

    He might even own a smart phone.

    – MrJM

  7. - Real - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 9:49 am:

    If Madigan was smart he would of had Tim Mapes replaced long ago. Christian Mitchell is a fresh start.

    The dems are risking losing to corrupt politicians like Rauner becsuse they want to keep stale old white men in office. Dump them and bring fresh faces in to easily crush Rauner.

  8. - TS - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 10:05 am:

    Mitchell, Morrissey and Wurth are all good choices…fine people and skilled political operatives who will do their jobs well. But let’s not pretend for a minute they’re not Madiganites.

  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 10:07 am:

    What’s the difference between a CEO (Morrissey) and an Executive Director (Mitchell)?

    Sounds like the same gig.

  10. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 10:07 am:



  11. - Anon0091 - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 10:09 am:

    A lot of the above comments seem like non-sequiturs. To the post, this is a solid appointment. In the coming era, lots of folks are going to have to step into new roles and some folks are going to resist that.

    But the notion that you’re going to appoint brand-new people with zero ties to the Speaker is unrealistic. Just because someone voted for Madigan for Speaker doesn’t make them Madigoons. Hell, even Scott Drury voted for Madigan for Speaker.

  12. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 10:13 am:


    Mea culpa. Still sounds like the same gig.

  13. - Frank talks - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 10:24 am:

    Bruce Rauner has established taking out Mike Madigan and his majority is his number one priority.
    Good choice for the Dems, shows willingness to look towards next generation as leaders.
    Not sure why Wallace is miffed? Except she’s out of a job come Jan next year.

  14. - Franko - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 10:25 am:

    I am befuddled as to why Wallace 1) wanted the job, and 2) believes she is qualified. Does she have significant campaign experience?

  15. - Saluki - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 10:27 am:

    Mitchell is perfect for the job.

  16. - Holden Caulfield - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 10:44 am:

    Congrats, Christian.

  17. - Arsenal - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 10:44 am:

    ==Not sure why Wallace is miffed? Except she’s out of a job come Jan next year.==

    That’s a good enough reason? But Wallace had her own #MeToo issue, so it’s easy to see why they took a pass.

    It’s fascinating that they went with an ED who is capable of sustaining his own public profile. Not a job where you usually see that.

  18. - Amanda Brooks - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 11:05 am:

    Wallace was more than qualified. Saying that she had #MeToo issues is BS. She wasn’t appointed because they were afraid that she would actually be invested in the people and not politics. PERIOD. However, congrats to Mitchell though. Hopefully he will push the party to deliver as he too can be held accountable.

  19. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 11:07 am:

    Is Wallace miffed?

  20. - Arsenal - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 11:14 am:

    ==Saying that she had #MeToo issues is BS.==

    No, she did. It didn’t get fully investigated because it broke the weekend before the primary, and maybe it would’ve ended up being a nothingburger, but it would have been absolute political malpractice to risk that given how Mapes left.

  21. - Wow - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 11:36 am:

    I don’t know much about Rep. Mitchell, but, generally speaking, I don’t like the line being blurred between elected official and campaign official. Everyone who is critical of the Speaker being head of DPI should be concerned about this as well. Plus, having Mary Morrissey there still means the same culture that pervaded the Speaker’s Office - the bullying, different forms of harassment - will still exist at DPI. I guess having the same people making decisions will get you the same result. Should have cleaned house and made a fresh start.

  22. - Just Me - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 11:40 am:

    Hmmmm…..a State Representative that purely by coincidence is closely aligned with the Speaker’s City Council Floor Leader and former head of campaigns.

  23. - Zeep bow - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 12:49 pm:

    Would love to see Wallace take on a role in the mold of Keith Ellison with the DNC. I really think she has a big-time future in IL politics

  24. - John Deere Green - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 1:48 pm:

    ==She wasn’t appointed because they were afraid that she would actually be invested in the people and not politics. PERIOD.==

    Ah, yes. I’m sure that’s the reason… Period indeed. Next you’ll tell us people don’t like Rauner because he’s just too darned reform-minded for them.

    If one is seeking appointment as an executive decision-maker to a political party, that person might want to be very interested in, I don’t know, politics. It’s the ED’s job to help the party win elections. Politics is pretty much the name of the game here.

  25. - Shytown - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 1:54 pm:

    Great choice

  26. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 2:44 pm:

    = I don’t like the line being blurred between elected official and campaign official.=

    Maybe give Rauner a call on that one, he flat out owns the ILGOP.

  27. - Real - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 3:18 pm:

    I think Michell is a good choice. I don’t know much about Wallace but she should be given a chance. Maybe not as Director right away but probably as another position within the organization to start off.

  28. - Anon-I-Guess - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 4:10 pm:

    –I don’t like the line being blurred between elected official and campaign official–

    As the valet said to Ferris: Ah, what country do you thinks this is, man?

  29. - Fantasma - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 6:04 pm:

    Wow - yep, let’s wipe the slate clean and start over in the MIDDLE of a campaign cycle, easiest way to hand over the elections to the republicans.

  30. - Mary Louise - Tuesday, Jul 10, 18 @ 8:54 pm:

    I’ll bring the blondies? What does that mean?

  31. - Kyle Hillman - Wednesday, Jul 11, 18 @ 7:12 pm:

    Regarding the “blondies” comment. Two sessions again Kelly Cassidy and Jen Walling made blondies (cookies or is it more like a brownie - I am not sure) for legislators as a way to cut the tension. Rep. Mitchell was a fan.

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