Candidates backed by Democratic Socialists of America sweep Nevada Democratic Party leadership elections; professional party staff subsequently resign

On March 6, 2021, the Democratic Party of Nevada conducted elections for its five leadership positions. Candidates endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America won all five posts: Judith Whitmer as chairwoman, Jacob Allen as first vice chairman, Zaffar Iqbal as second vice chairman, Ahmad Ade as secretary, and Howard Beckerman as treasurer. Shortly thereafter, the party’s executive director, Alana Mounce, informed Whitmer that she and the remaining staff and consultants were resigning their positions.

Whitmer said, “People should not be afraid of change. A lot of people are concerned when there’s any shift or perceived threat to the status quo. But it’s time. It’s time to move in a more progressive direction if we’re going to get people to turn out to vote.” According to The Intercept, an anonymous staffer said, “I knew I couldn’t work for [Whitmer] and watch her destroy the years of hard work so many operatives put into making our state party the best state party in the country.”

Commentators framed the results of the leadership election, and the subsequent staff resignations, as a reflection of a broader conflict between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party, both in Nevada and throughout the nation. Matt Viser, writing for The Washington Post, said, “At a minimum, the discord is expected to lead longtime allies of Harry M. Reid, the former Senate majority leader and the state’s most important political power broker, to build a political organization outside the state party structure. And it is fueling excitement among liberals nationwide who are pressing to increase the federal minimum wage, expand health coverage and combat climate change.” Sam Dorman, writing for Fox News, offered a similar interpretation: “The incident reflected longstanding tension within the party, which has seen conflict between more establishment members like Hillary Clinton and progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who identifies as a Democratic socialist.”

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