Dickie Cranwell Stepping Down as DPVA Chair; Draft Donald McEachin!


    Yesterday, Olympia Meola reported rumors that “[l]eadership changes could be afoot at the Democratic Party of Virginia.”  Well, I’ve had it confirmed to me that not only is this a rumor, it’s true — Dickie Cranwell will be stepping down in December as DPVA chair after 5 years on the job.

    Let’s be blunt; the DPVA has not exactly been the most effective organization in recent times. A few adjectives and phrases that spring to mind include lackluster, uninspired, unimaginative, lazy, slow-to-react, complete inability to create an effective political narrative, etc.  Meanwhile, the 2009 Democratic debacle looms large, and by all rights should have resulted in a housecleaning last fall. Given that it didn’t, I guess I’d say “better late than never.” I’d also say, let’s turn this decision by Dickie Cranwell into an opportunity for positive change at the top of DPVA. Let’s get someone in there with energy, commitment, determination, and proven leadership abilities.  Fortunately, I’ve got just the person for the job:


    That’s right, Sen. Donald McEachin, the man who more than anyone has filled the leadership vacuum over the past year, has most effectively stood up to Cooch and Company, who most powerfully has articulated Democratic values, who “gets” the grassroots and netroots, who represents everything we’d want in a party chair.  I’d say that right now, it’s time for the DPVA to open things up, hold a competitive election, let whatever interested candidates battle it out, but in the end select Donald McEachin to lead the party. I’m not even sure if Donald’s interested, but if he is, he should know that he has a lot of friends and supporters in the progressive activists community.  If you’re with me, or even if you’re not, please let’s hear what you think in the comments section.  Thanks…and go Donald!

    UPDATE: You can sign the petition here.

    UPDATE #2: Sen. McEachin’s press release is on the “flip.”

    UPDATE #3: Dickie Cranwell’s and Mark Warner’s statements in the comments section.

    UPDATE #4: Bob Lewis reports:

    The search for a successor has been under way for weeks with Warner, Kaine and others trying to persuade 2009 gubernatorial contender Brian J. Moran of Alexandria to replace Cranwell.

    Moran was described Tuesday as “the first among equals,” should he resolve issues regarding his family and his job that would allow him to hold the post.

    Others under consideration include Greg Werkheiser, who raised and spent about $500,000 in a 2009 bid to unseat Del. David Albo, R-Fairfax County, and Michael Signer, a Democratic strategist who unsuccessfully sought the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor last year.

    “I want to take this opportunity to thank Chairman Cranwell for his years of dedicated service, ” Senator McEachin said. Chairman Cranwell has served this Party with devotion, with his energy and been a leader for us through good times and bad. Chairman Cranwell reminds us of the best we have to offer, speaking from his heart about Democratic values and ideals. His passion and energy for our Party has served us all well and has been a motivation and inspiration to us. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Godspeed, although we know you will never be far from where Democrats are gathered.”

    Senator McEachin continued, “Some good Virginia Democrats have approached me and encouraged me to run for the chairmanship. I am honored by their confidence in me, but this is not an idea I have previously considered. Out of deference to them, I will certainly ponder this and try to determine if my standing for election to chair is a good step forward for this Party that I love.

    “Meanwhile, I encourage folks to make their own decisions and consider running. I look forward to a spirited campaign among the candidates, whoever they will be and encourage them to engage the State Central Committee, the local chairs and Democratic activists at every level. We have important elections coming up, this year and every year through the quadrennial and this is an opportunity for Democrats to determine in which directions they want to go and how they want to get there. This election provides an excellent opportunity for that kind of spirited and important conversation within the Party.

    “No matter what decision I make for myself in the next few weeks, I promise my fellow Democrats that I will stay engaged, involved and committed. We must make sure we win our Congressional races, make gains in both the State Senate and the House of Delegates and ensure the re-election of both our Democratic Senator and our Democratic President. Then, of course, we want to make sure we take back the governor’s mansion and the other statewide offices to return Virginia to a moderate results oriented government, not one driven by extreme ideology.”

    • The Donkey

      Go Donald!

    • martinlomasney

      which would be hard if he were DPVA chief for any period between now and then.

      I’m trying hard to think of an alternative.

      Dickie was just keeping the seat warm because no one else wanted the job.  He did us a favor taking it.  

      Who would want the job that we would want.  Most of the folks who come to mind would rather run for state wide office.

      How about Don Beyer?

    • Eileen Levandoski

      Don’t we want McEachin running for a statewide office in 2013?

    • Dan Sullivan

      This fish has rotted from the head for too long. His time would be better spent helping good Democrats campaign than being involved in the infighting required to break the stranglehold of the self-serving.

    • Would she be interested?  (I think our biggest obstacle is going to be find someone qualified who is also interested!)

    • vaambition

      Ben why is it a conflict….Mark Warner did it…so did Dick Davis

    • The Richmonder
    • As you may know, I have been involved with politics in Virginia for the last 39 years. I have seen our party at its low and high points. I have had the privilege of serving in both the House of Delegates and as your party Chair. In my 39 years, I have gotten to know committed Democrats all across the Commonwealth and have been consistently heartened and reenergized by the level of work and commitment you show the DPVA.

      We have achieved a lot since I was elected in June, 2005. We’ve won three statewide elections, took back the State Senate, and brought about the historic 2008 election in which Virginia pushed Barack Obama over the top and sent Mark Warner to the United States Senate. These were some of the highs.  We went through a tough election last year which was certainly one of the lows. However, I am confident that the party is stronger than we were just 5 years ago and I see the momentum in this election shifting our way.

      I value the friendships of 39 years and I value all the hard work by so many people to elect great Democrats.  However, I will be stepping aside as party Chair in December to spend more time with Elizabeth and my two sons, Jack, 13 and Joe, 11.  I am not, nor could I ever, retire from the political arena; after December it will just be as a foot soldier, not a party officer.

      We still have a lot of work to do to make sure we hold our Democratic majority in the Congressional delegation so we all need to keep working hard!  

      I want to sincerely thank you for all you do for the Democratic Party,

      Dick Cranwell


      Democratic Party of Virginia

    • NotJohnSMosby

      Don isn’t the best choice because, as a sitting state senator in an election year, with redistricting and everything, he wouldn’t have enough time to devote to it.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend him giving up his senate seat just to be DPVA chair.

      Sue would be a good choice, she should rightfully be vice-chair right now.  However, it was a popularity contest and a majority of committee members voted for the woman who had been around the longest instead of the woman who had the most to offer.  Of course, if we were Republicans, they would put Gaylene in charge and make Susan vice-chair, if they were male and white of course.

      I would like to see a younger Dem in charge, and certainly not a rural Dem.  Scott Surovell would be great, but having just won a Delegate’s seat, I don’t know if he would be interested.  As with Don, in this day and age, having a sitting member of the statehouse chairing the party is not the best idea due to time commitments, conflicts of interest, etc.

      You would preferably like to have someone well-known around the state, and hopefully not just a figurehead.  Dickie is/was a fine figurehead, the good Dem who served for a long time before getting dumped out of office (through redistricting) who runs the party as a second act.  That doesn’t really get you an active leader who’s going to charge everyone up though.  

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Ginny Peters or Steve Bunn give it a try – a scary thought, to be sure.  Jon Bowerbank would probably love to do it.  Jody Wagner would be good, Tom Perrielo would be great and it would be a good consolation prize if he doesn’t win re-election this year.  Terry McAuliffe would be excellent, I could maybe see him doing it as a platform to campaign and advocate for 2013.  Then again, as a former DNC chair, running a state party is a big drop down in profile and activity.

      • martinlomasney

        I’m referring to the State Senator pictured above. Who are you writing about.

    • “Dick Cranwell has been a tremendous chairman over the past five years and a remarkable public servant for nearly 40 years.  When he accepted the role of Party chair in 2005, he believed he would be serving one year.  Since that time, however, he’s led the Party to some incredible election victories: Tim Kaine in 2005, Jim Webb in 2006, control of the Virginia Senate in 2007 and my own election to the U.S. Senate in 2008.

      “As a former state party chair, I understand and appreciate the incredible commitment of time and energy and that this position entails, and I congratulate and thank Dick for his service to our Party. He leaves big shoes to fill, and I plan to work with our Party’s Central Committee to elect a new chair.

      “My hope is that the new Chair can devote their full energies to this task and consequently should not be a potential statewide candidate in 2013.”

      • I’d have a tough choice. Another one who would be a GREAT choice for DPVA chair is former ACDC chair Peter Rousselot.  

      • martinlomasney

        “an empty suit”

    • Randy Klear

      According to this AP report (h/t Vivian Paige), Warner and Kaine have been working on getting Brian to run for the job. As House Democratic Caucus chair, he took a hands-on approach to other candidates and showed serious party building skills. I like the idea myself.

    • mechenvy

      No one has suggested Mike Signer in this discussion, why not?

    • blackandbluedem

      Mike Signer is the name I would support.  I supported him for LG when he ran and thought he brought energy and presented a progressive vision we can all get behind.  He’s young, good-looking and built up good credibility around the state during his run.  

      There’s a lot of good names out there but Signer can lead the VA Dem party into the future.  Just my two cents.