The Democratic National Committee is naming Mary Beth Cahill its interim CEO, handing her day-to-day control of the party’s operations.
Cahill, who was John Kerry’s campaign manager during the 2004 presidential race, is replacing Jess O’Connell, who is departing after a year as DNC Chairman Tom Perez’s first CEO.
Cahill will be in place from mid-February through May as the party searches for O’Connell’s permanent replacement. Cahill will help conduct the search and is not expected to be a candidate for the job, a party official said.
She is stepping in as Perez continues a rebuilding job he acknowledged was bigger than he’d expected when he was elected DNC chair a year ago. The party has struggled to raise cash, falling far behind the Republican National Committee as progressive donors send their dollars to congressional candidates and new organizations that have launched as part of the anti-Donald Trump resistance.
In a statement, Perez called Cahill “a seasoned Democratic veteran who brings decades of experience and public service to managing and electing Democrats up and down the ballot.”
“Democrats nationwide will benefit from her talents as we build on the energy and momentum from 2017 and work to elect Democrats in 2018 and beyond,” he said.
Before the Kerry campaign, Cahill worked in then-President Bill Clinton’s White House and as chief of staff to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. She also spent five years as executive director of Emily’s List, which works to elect Democratic women. Most recently, Cahill was national political director for the United Automobile Workers union.
She also has ties to former President Barack Obama: She called the then-state senator and US Senate hopeful to offer him the keynote speaking slot at the 2004 Democratic National Convention – a role that launched Obama toward superstardom. And she joined the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA in 2012, when it supported Obama’s re-election bid, as a consultant.
O’Connell – another Emily’s List veteran – said in a statement that the DNC is “tremendously fortunate” to have Cahill take over, saying she “will ensure the DNC has the staffing and resources to win in 2018 and beyond.”
“I couldn’t be more excited to join Team DNC as interim CEO. I know Jess has done a fantastic job of guiding the Democratic Party through some of our greatest challenges, and there’s no question that the DNC is stronger for her leadership,” Cahill said. “A record number of women are running for office in 2018, and a major reason why is the work of Jess O’Connell. As we search for someone to step into Jess’s shoes more permanently, I’m honored for the opportunity to work alongside Chairman Perez to make sure the DNC continues to win from the school board to the Oval Office.”