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DNC chair vote: live coverage

Live updates on the Democratic National Committee chair vote in Atlanta.

3:20 p.m. 

With 235 votes, former Labor secretary Tom Perez wins the DNC chairmanship on the second ballot. Ellison received 200 votes. 

Read more here

3:00 p.m.

Former DNC chairman Howard Dean, a Buttigieg backer, sent an email to DNC members saying he will now back Ellison. His statement nods to the earlier controversy of the Ellison campaign claiming they had Buttigieg's endorsement, even though they don't:

"This is Governor Howard Dean. I believe that Keith Ellison would be the most likely person to be able to successfully bring in the first global generation to the Democratic Party. (This is real)"

2:53 p.m.

2:37 p.m.

2:30 p.m. 

Perez came very close to winning DNC chair on the first ballot. There were 427 votes cast, making the threshold for victory 214.5 votes. (Some Democrats abroad and from the territories only get half votes.)

Perez received 213.5 votes. Ellison got 200.

The crowd is stunned. A second round of balloting is about to get underway. 

Idaho Democrat Boynton Brown dropped out and did not endorse. Air Force veteran Ronan dropped out and backed Ellison. Former DNC official Greene dropped out and backed Perez. Lawyer Petkarsky also dropped out and backed Ellison. 

Only Ellison and Perez remain.
 
The tension inside the room is off the charts.

2:20 p.m. 

After the first balloting, Perez falls a single vote short of winning. The race will proceed to a second ballot. 

Perez received 213.5 votes, one ballot short of the 214.5 threshold to win. Ellison received 200 votes. 

2:15 p.m.

A DNC member forwarded The Hill a text from the Ellison campaign touting a Buttigieg endorsement: "Keith is grateful to have the support of Mayor Buttigieg and we're in a strong position to win on the next ballot. Can he count on your support?"

The problem: Buttigieg did not publicly endorse Ellison, sowing confusion among members. Two sources have told The Hill that the Ellison camp has corrected the erroneous text.

1:55 p.m.

Adam Green, an Ellison supporter and the founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, slammed the decision to use paper ballots. The move could give fuel to Ellison backers to argue that the vote was not on the level.

 

1:40 p.m.

The ballots are being collected. Vote counting will begin shortly.

1:29 p.m.

Dems are passing out paper ballots. There were groans when Brazile informed members they would not use the electronic voting system because it could invite "interference" and was not reliable.
 
The vote counting will take a while but round one is underway.

1:17 p.m.

12:50 p.m.

South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg drops out of the race, stunning the crowd. He is gay, 35-years-old a Rhodes Scholar, a military veteran and viewed by many as a next generation star of the party.

Buttigieg didn't make an endorsement.

Buttigieg comported himself well at the debate. He is a polished speaker and debate and will have some role in the national party moving forward.

By dropping out instead of being voted out, he was allowed to give a farewell speech in which he encouraged Democrats to “pay attention to communities like ours in the heart of the country not as an exotic species but as everyday Americans.”

Buttigieg encouraged Democrats to engage with the next generation of liberals.

“There’s nothing wrong with our bench, we just haven’t called enough people off the bench and asked them to get on the field,” he said.

12:36 p.m.

It is clear who has the energy here. Ellison’s supporters are loud and in charge and erupting at every chance. 

“Don’t mourn organize!,” declared Ellison backer and labor leader Randi Weingarten to an outburst of shouts and applause.

Minnesota Democratic leader Ken Martin followed, noting that Ellison’s district has gone from the lowest turnout in the state to the highest. “This party is going to rise from the ashes under Keith Ellison,” he said, turning out another standing ovation.

Like Perez, Ellison stressed unity.

“Unity is essential, we have to walk out here unified, not just between the candidates but the groups that support all the candidates,” Ellison said.

But if Ellison doesn’t win his enthusiastic supporters are going to be extremely let down.

12:18 p.m.

Perez takes the stage for a spirited address that stressed party unity.

“We are one family and I know we will leave here united today…. no matter who wins I know we’ll cross the finish line together because a united Democratic Party is not only our best hope, it’s a Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE nightmare.”

Expect to hear that message a lot today, as Democrats are fearful that the divisions in the party will persist beyond Atlanta.

12:20 p.m.

Allies for the candidates are giving their nominating speeches. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti goes first, speaking on behalf of Perez, calling him “mi hermano” — "my brother" — and “one of the smartest people I’ve ever known.” Garcetti touted Perez’s work as Labor secretary, saying he repeatedly fought for workers’ rights in California.

South Carolina Democratic chairman Jaime Harrison followed. Harrison pulled out of the race on Thursday to back Perez and his supporters – more than a dozen – all went with him. Many believe they could put Perez over the top.

“When I look at Tom Perez I see a fellow fights, someone who gives me so much hope for my party’s future, for my country’s future, for my son’s future,” Harrison said.

 

12:08 p.m.

Here is a look at the clicker Democrats will use to register their votes, courtesy of Frank Leone, a DNC member from Virginia. Members will also fill out paper ballots that will be collected for a later audit.
 
There are believed to be several dozen members that are not on hand who instead sent proxies to register their votes.
 11:55 a.m. 

Interim chairwoman Donna Brazile is giving her final speech as party leader.

She asks that the next chair allow her to continue to raise money and do outreach to state parties.

Brazile brought the house down for calling on the next chair to do a “Full and complete investigation into the Russian hack of the election.”

“The Trump administration must be investigated and please continue this work,” Brazile said.

She also brought jokes: “I want to let the next chair know that I sold the car. It was a big SUV and I needed the money.” 

Instead, Brazile said she will leave behind a loaded Washington, D.C. metro card. 

11:10 a.m. 

After spirited debate, Democrats decided against reinstituting the ban. They feared it would limit donations from liberal activist groups at a time when the party is in the throes of a massive rebuilding projects.
 
Those who wanted to see the ban reinstituted argued that it was a symbolic measure to say to the nation that Democrats would not compromise their values.

If things got that heated over a resolution, the event is about to get sent into the stratosphere for the election.

10:50 a.m.

Ahead of the vote, Democrats will vote on resolutions about corporate and lobbyist influence on the party. 

10:40 a.m.

Keith Ellison announces who will nominate him for DNC chair. 

 

10: 26 a.m.

 
Democrats are worried that, no matter who wins today's election, lingering divisions from the primary will continue to divide the party. 

The election is a referendum on whether the progressive wing of the party, led by Ellison with support of Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBooker holds 'Get Out the Vote' event in South Carolina as presidential speculation builds The Democratic Donald Trump is coming Biden: Trump administration 'coddles autocrats and dictators' MORE, or the Obama-Clinton wing, represented by Perez, will lead the party going forward.

Nina Turner, a DNC member from Ohio and an Ellison supporter, told The Hill this week she's unsure if she can support Perez if he triumphs today.

Here she is talking to the Washington Post:

 

 

10:13 a.m.

Brazile gives the two-minute warning. There are more than 400 DNC members seated up front in the room. Behind them, hundreds of chanting activists.

For Perez: "Who do we want for DNC? Tom Tom Tom Tom!"

For Buttigieg: "Pick Pete!"

For Ellison: "Keith for DNC!"

Brazile is urging everyone to be respectful and take a seat.

10 a.m.

The doors have swung open and DNC members and liberal activists are flooding the Atlanta Convention Center hall. It looks like it could get rowdy.

Supporters of Perez are decked out in blue with "Team Tom" signs. Ellison's supporters have staked out a section nearby with green "Keith for DNC signs." Interim chairwoman Donna Brazile is working the room trying to get everyone set.

Jaime Harrison, who dropped out of the race recently himself to back Perez, helps nominate him.

It’s Election Day for Democrats.

The party will elect the new head of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday, a top leadership post for a party that has been cast into the electoral wilderness.

The Hill will post live results here as the votes come in.

President Obama’s former Labor secretary Tom Perez is the slight favorite to win. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a progressive favorite with the backing of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is not far behind. Both men have been pumping their whip counts but commitments don’t mean anything at this point, only the hard vote will matter. 

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Perez and Ellison are angling for the support of the 442 DNC members gathered here at the Atlanta Convention Center. A simple majority is all that is needed to win. 

Five other candidates are also on the ballot – Idaho Democratic Party executive director Sally Boynton Brown, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former DNC official Jehmu Greene, Air Force veteran Sam Ronan and lawyer Peter Peckarsky.

If no candidate wins a majority in the first two rounds of balloting the candidate with the least amount of votes will fall off the ballot in subsequent rounds until the last man or woman is left standing. 

The candidates have been in town since Wednesday night, first for a national debate, and later for two full days of furious campaigning that turned the Westin Hotel into ground zero for the Democratic rebuilding project.

This is the first competitive DNC chair race since former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean won the election to lead the national party in 2005.