A vice chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) says the chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), did not consult others about the party's primary debate schedule, as she claims, and is questioning her leadership.
R.T. Rybak, a former mayor of Minneapolis, told The New York Times on Thursday that Wasserman Schultz had made statements that were "flat out not true."
“This is not a back-and-forth between a chair and a vice chair,” he said, according to the Times.
“This is a chair of the Democratic Party wrongly stating that she consulted with all of the party officers. I was not consulted. I know that [Rep.] Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardProgressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal Hillicon Valley: US has made progress on cyber but more needed, report says | Democrat urges changes for 'problematic' crypto language in infrastructure bill | Facebook may be forced to unwind Giphy acquisition YouTube rival Rumble strikes deals with Tulsi Gabbard, Glenn Greenwald MORE [D-Hawaii] was not consulted. And this is becoming about much more than debates.”
Rybak's comments are the latest salvo in an internal party fight over the number of presidential primary debates.
The DNC is planning to hold six debates, but many, including presidential contenders Martin O'Malley and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDo progressives prefer Trump to compromise? Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks MORE (I-Vt.), have called for more. Ryback and his fellow DNC vice chair Gabbard also publicly called for more debates.
Gabbard said she was disinvited from the first Democratic debate, held on Tuesday, Oct. 13, after repeating her calls.
According to reports, DNC officials said Gabbard was not disinvited but that Wasserman Schultz wanted to avoid distractions and keep the "focus" on the candidates in the debate. Wasserman Schultz also said she had consulted with others in the party about the timing and number of debates.
Gabbard responded by accusing Wasserman Schultz of making statements "that aren't true."
Rybak on Thursday insisted he had never been consulted and also questioned Wasserman Schultz's judgment.
“The Democratic National Committee staff has never been stronger,” he told the Times. ”The one thing that could stop us from having a great election coming up is if the chair continues to create these self-made dramas that are below what a chair should be doing.
“I am seriously questioning whether she has the capacity to do what has to be done,” he added. “And that’s why I’m doing what I wanted not to do for a long time, which is go public with my serious questions of whether she can lead this party.”
The DNC's chief of staff, Amy Dacey, told the Times that Rybak and Gabbard had not been consulted about the debates.
“There is no signoff or formal consultation process on debates,” Ms. Dacey said. “Rather, our vice chairs were notified just as they are on other major decisions such as the one to select Philadelphia as the site of the convention.”
Dacey though said the party was united and that the chairwoman was willing to listen to all officials.
“We’re in regular communication with all of our campaigns and discuss any number of issues with members and officers, and while we are always striving to improve upon that, we have a diverse and talented group of vice chairs, and the party very much needs their voices moving forward.”