Shortly after a slate of insurgent progressives endorsed by the Las Vegas Democratic Socialists of America pulled off a clean sweep in Nevada State Democratic Party elections over the weekend, the party’s executive director notified newly elected chair Judith Whitmer that the entire staff, as well as every consultant, was quitting.
The “mass exodus” of party staffers following the progressive takeover of the Nevada Democratic Party leadership, as well as the establishment’s funneling of hundreds of thousands of dollars out of party coffers in anticipation of the results, is detailed in new reporting by The Intercept, which described the election outcome as the culmination of a years-long “battle between the insurgent progressive wing of the party and what’s known in Nevada as the Reid machine—a tightly run operation still guided by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.”
That fight, The Intercept’s Akela Lacy and Ryan Grim explain, “began five years ago, when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders organized support for his 2016 presidential primary run, while Reid was working behind the scenes to help his opponent, Hillary Clinton.”
“Over the next four years, outside organizations like DSA exploded in size and strength,” Lacy and Grim write. “The Sanders campaign focused on organizing tens of thousands of young Latino voters in the state, with the goal of activating people whom the party hadn’t bothered with before. And it worked: In the 2020 cycle, after investing heavily in Nevada, Sanders won a commanding victory in the Nevada caucuses. When the Sanders campaign ended, the organizers behind it were ready to take their project to the next level.”
The years of tireless grassroots organizing has paid off, as evidenced by former Sanders delegate Judith Whitmer’s win in the Nevada Democratic Party’s leadership elections on Saturday. Also emerging victorious were Jacob Allen for first vice chair, Dr. Zaffar Iqbal for second vice chair, Ahmad Adé for party secretary, and Howard Beckerman for treasurer, spurring what one local newspaper described as “a dramatic shakeup of the state party’s power structure.”
In a statement on Saturday, Sanders applauded Whitmer’s election at the hands of the state party’s governing members, saying the new party chair “knows that we must invest in year-round grassroots organizing focused on the principles of economic, social, racial, and environmental justice.”
“If we build a political movement that speaks to working people,” the Vermont senator added, “we will continue to build on our political success in Nevada.”
As the Las Vegas Review-Journal noted, “Whitmer has spent years organizing and encouraging young progressives to serve on the very state central committee that elected her. She was endorsed by the state party’s Left Caucus, which she founded, and the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.”
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