Candidates compete for DNC’s top seat

The party looks to make gains in 2018 and retake the White House in 2020.

(CNN) – Saturday, the Democratic National Committee will hold elections. Eight candidates are vying to be the party’s chair. With Republicans controlling the White House, the House, the Senate, dozens of governorships and the vast majority of state legislatures, the person chosen to lead Democrats will have quite the job on their hands.

Tom Perez, DNC Chair Candidate said, “We’ve got to organize, organize, organize!”

Democrats are a party in search of direction and a new leader to help guide them.

Rep. Keith Ellison, another DNC Chair Candidate said, “We got a fight ahead of us, we gotta come together. And we will.”

Enter eight candidates: battling it out to be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Perez said, “We need a DNC chairman who can inspire, who can make sure we talk to the entire big tent of our party. Who can bring us together, who can invest in our view.”

The outcome could offer a huge signal on where the Democratic Party goes from here.

Ellison said, “We win elections, and that is how we get majority back.”

Just look at the two frontrunners, becoming something of a proxy war between the Sanders and Clinton factions of the party.

In one corner: Tom Perez, who served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations with the backing of the establishment Democrats like Joe Biden. Wednesday Perez rolled out the endorsement of the heads of four DNC caucuses.

In the other corner: Keith Ellison representing the more liberal progressive wing of the party backed by Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders said, “I think it’s time to take a reassessment of the purpose of where the Democratic Party is and where it wants to go.  And I think, essentially, what we need to do right now is to become a grassroots party, which is what Keith Ellison believes.”

Ellison’s past ties to the nation of Islam and his defense of its anti-Semitic leader, Louis Farrakhan, are resurfacing as he campaigns, though he publicly renounced them in 2006, neither candidate has the race locked up.

Presenting an opportunity for other candidates like South Carolina Democratic Chairman Jaime Harrison and South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, to tout their outsider status and potentially alter the race.

Mayor Buttigieg said, “I believe DNC needs a fresh start too and I believe that I can deliver that fresh start.”

Buttigieg picking up the endorsement of former DNC Chair Howard Dean. Dean said, “He’s the outside the Beltway candidate. This Party is in trouble.”

The Democratic Party is in trouble. They have been regulated to minority status in the Trump era still reeling after suffering a big loss in November and their majorities in the house and senate before that.

“It’s a contest of ideas as to which direction to take the party. After every single loss, the political party that loses, they go and they do a retrospective. ‘What happened? Where did we make a mistake? What did we do wrong?'”

The new leader of the DNC will be in charge of helping define the course correction.

Buttigieg said, “Our party has got some issues and let us not doubt for one minute, there is no majority for “Trumpism” in America.”

As the party looks to make gains in 2018 and retake the White House in 2020.