DNC chair's No. 1 job is to elect more Democrats. Period.
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Nothing symbolized the disarray and dysfunction of the Democratic Party more than the very first day of its convention last summer in Philadelphia.

Instead of being able to start celebrating Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces DHS cyber agency to prioritize election security, Chinese threats ABC chose a debate moderator who hates Trump MORE's nomination, the first official act was to dump the chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.).

It was the right decision, by the way. During the primary and caucus season, she did everything she could to ingratiate herself to the Clinton campaign. She did not play the role of neutral chair. The campaign staff of Clinton's chief rival, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court MORE (Vt.), were justifiably upset and I'm sure euphoric about Wasserman Schultz's abrupt departure.

I retell this story because it defines what type of person should not be chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The chair should not be an appendage of any one particular person, even an incumbent president the party.

The chair should not be an ideologue, either. It's not the job of the chair to write party doctrine; leave that to the 447 members of the committee to debate contentious issues amongst themselves.

The first and only job of the chair is to win elections — to elect more Democrats at every level, from city councils to state legislatures to the U.S. Senate. Mayors, governors, congressmen — you name it.

During President Obama's eight years, this did not happen.


The numbers are staggering: During Obama's tenure, Democrats lost 63 House seats, 11 Senate seats, 13 governors and — the whopper — 947 state legislative seats. Thirty-two state legislatures are now under complete Republican control. Presently, there are only 16 Democratic governors.

Last Saturday, Tom Perez was elected DNC chair. He won narrowly, but he still won. It took two ballots.

During the campaign for chair, there was a great deal of talk about the direction the party should take: left, far-left or centrist. But all of this talk should be viewed as bogus.

The chair should not be measured or judged by which ideological label he seems to wear. He or she should be judged by how many elections Democrats win.

The first test will be the special election in Georgia for now-Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price's vacated congressional seat.

What will Perez do to marshal the forces to change this seat from red to blue? That should be his focus.

Then, what will he do to recruit new and dynamic candidates to run for office at all levels — especially U.S. Senate seats, governorships and state legislative seats?

After recruiting, what will he do to mobilize Democrats to actually turn out and vote, particularly in midterm elections?

Perez was a former Montgomery County, Maryland, council member. He's always had higher office in mind; he is election-oriented. He once thought of running for governor of Maryland.

If Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.) had been elected DNC chair instead of Perez, I believe it would have been viewed as a continuation of the Democratic Party's obsession with identity politics. Ellison's ideology and past views would have got in the way of organizing for election victory.

Perez, make no mistake, is a proud progressive liberal. He was the most liberal member of Obama's Cabinet, by far. But he does not feel the need to proclaim it to everyone.

The DNC chair should be the ultimate mechanic; he should get the tools needed and utilize them. Fix the car so it runs and runs smoothly and gets to the desired destination. He must follow in the political organizing and party-building tradition of predecessors John Bailey, Larry O'Brien and Bob Strauss.

That destination is the victory circle — nothing short of that.

Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. Previously, he was the political analyst for WAMU-FM, Washington's NPR affiliate, where he co-hosted the "D.C. Politics Hour With Mark Plotkin." He later became the political analyst for WTOP-FM, Washington's all-news radio station, where he hosted "The Politics Hour With Mark Plotkin." He is a winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.