November 12, 2008
A gay man to run the Democratic Party?
Posted by: Chris
One of the two leading contenders said to be under serious consideration by Barack Obama for the job of running the Democratic Party is openly gay political strategist Steve Hildebrand. The president-elect is reportedly considering Hildebrand, who was Obama's deputy national campaign manager, to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Paul Tewes, Hildebrand's partner in D.C.-based campaign consulting firm, has been mentioned as another leading candidate. Politico.com speculated that Obama might tap someone with a higher profile, like Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, to be the DNC general chairman and "the face" of the party, while leaving day-to-day operations to the likes of Tewes or Hildebrand.
A native of South Dakota, Hildebrand cut his political teeth in party politics, not the gay rights movement. He the re-election campaign for Tom Daschle, then the Senate's leading Democrat, when he was surprisingly booted by South Dakotans back in 2004. Hildebrand's earlier work included Democrat Tim Johnson's winning run for the other U.S. Senate seat from South Dakota in 2002, and Al Gore's victory in the Iowa caucuses two years earlier.
If Obama does tap Hildebrand, it will be an interesting turn of events for the DNC. Despite the high-profile role of Andrew Tobias, the openly gay party treasurer, the DNC under current chairman Howard Dean has come under heavy fire from many gay Democrats for neglecting gay issues, especially state-level ballot measures to ban marriage.
Dean and the DNC have vigorously defended themselves against the accusation, but their image has been sullied by a lawsuit filed by Donald HItchcock, alleging he was fired as the party's gay outreach liaison because his domestic partner, political consultant Paul Yandura, publicly called on gays to withhold donations over the ballot measure flap.
As far as I know, Hitchcock's lawsuit remains pending. Obama's team would be well-served to clean up Howard's mess before installing their own people at the party's helm.
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