Congratulations to Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who according to the Washington Post is President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to be the new executive director of the Democratic National Committee. She will be “running the party’s day-to-day operations, including fundraising.”
The job is particularly important because Obama’s pick for DNC chairman, Tim Kaine, still has a year to serve as governor of Virginia and presumably won’t be a hands-on manager at the DNC.
Many Iowans know O’Malley Dillon from her work on John Edwards’ presidential campaigns. She worked in field before the 2004 caucuses and was Edwards’ Iowa campaign director before the 2008 caucuses. After Edwards left the presidential race, she became the director of battleground states strategy for Obama’s campaign.
O’Malley Dillon is married to Patrick Dillon, whom she met while both worked on Edwards’ first presidential campaign here. Patrick Dillon later managed Chet Culver’s gubernatorial campaign and became the governor’s chief of staff.
Anyone have any idea who’s likely to replace Dillon at Terrace Hill?
Here’s O’Malley Dillon’s Facebook page, for those who are into that kind of thing.
Regarding the news that Obama wants Kaine as DNC chairman, Bob Brigham made some persuasive arguments against the choice, while Jonathan Singer was “more than content with the pick.” Singer noted,
in recent years the DNC Chairmanship has been split into two posts while the Democrats have controlled the White House, with a dignitary serving as General Chairman and a strategist running the day-to-day operations of the committee. Under Bill Clinton, this strategy predominated, with Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, Colorado Governor Roy Romer and then-former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell serving as General Chairmen — the spokesmen of the party — while others were left to handle the details. Indeed, this appears to be the thinking of Obama in tapping Kaine, also choosing the director of his battleground state strategy, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, to run the committee’s operations.
Kaine wouldn’t be my first, second or third choice to run the DNC, but if Obama wants him there no one is going to stop him. The Virginia Democratic bloggers who know his record are not fans (a few links are in this post). I’d much rather have Kaine at the DNC than as vice president, though. I’m relieved Obama passed him over for that job.
O’Malley Dillon is highly capable and makes me feel better about the future management of the DNC.
My main concern is that the committee not abandon the 50-state strategy after Howard Dean leaves. Washington insiders attacked Dean for sending organizers to red states in 2005, but that strategy contributed significantly to Democratic gains in Congress in 2006 and 2008.
UPDATE: At Century of the Common Iowan, noneed4thneed observes that O’Malley Dillon’s appointment “probably solidifies the Iowa Cacuses’s first in the nation status.”
SECOND UPDATE: Marc Ambinder’s take on what this means:
O’Malley-Dillon is seen by the team as a manager with an organizational background that appeals to Obama. She is large measure responsible for Sen. John Edwards’s solid caucus performances in 2004 and 2008. She was recruited by Steve Hilderband to join Obama’s campaign as battleground states director and spent the general election overseeing state field budgets and figuring out where to send the principals.
The DNC will retain traditional responsibilities, like planning the convention and political research. But it will significantly expand its campaign organizing capacity and probably its staff; think of it as current DNC chairman Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy on steroids.