Politics & Government

Gov. Beshear named to national task force examining Democratic Party's failures and future

Steve Beshear
is the only elected  
official on the 
Steve Beshear is the only elected official on the 10-person panel. Herald-Leader

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear was named Thursday to a Democratic National Committee task force that will examine what went wrong in the federal midterm elections and help chart a path for the national party.

Beshear is the only elected official on the 10-person task force, which includes Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt.

After Republicans easily took control of the U.S. Senate last month, DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she would form the Democratic Victory Task Force to examine failures and successes.

"We are proud to announce the members of the Democratic Victory Task Force and are eager to work with them to build on what we've done that works, identify and prioritize challenges, and ultimately improve our party's performance in future elections," Wasserman Schultz said Thursday in a statement announcing the committee's membership. "This diverse group of Democratic Party officials, strategists and advocates will each bring with them expertise from their fields to collaborate on a holistic review of the party's past performance and present actionable areas for improvement moving forward."

The midterm losses, which included a landslide win by incoming U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, have left many Democrats scratching their heads as to what went wrong.

The DNC said Thursday that Beshear and the new task force "will conduct a thorough review and assessment of key components of the Democratic Party's — and related organizations — role in recent elections and identify places where the party can strengthen and improve operations to better serve candidates and constituents in future elections."

The committee said it would "cast a wide net" and produce recommendations that the national and state parties "must take to improve their performance including, but not limited to, future midterm elections."

Beshear, highly regarded by President Barack Obama and many other national Democrats because of his efforts to implement the president's health care law in Kentucky, was added to the task force because Kentucky Democrats' efforts to maintain control of the state House were among the few bright spots for the party on Election Day.

The Kentucky House is the only legislative chamber in the South controlled by Democrats, and the party holds all but one statewide constitutional office.

In a statement, the DNC said Beshear "has propelled Kentucky forward through intense and targeted efforts to create and protect jobs, expand access to health care and enhance K-12 education during his two terms in office."

The task force is expected to present its initial findings at the DNC's winter meeting in February and a final report by mid-year.

Task force member and DNC vice chairwoman Donna Brazile said in a statement that Democrats "have a lot to learn from what we've done in the past — both successes and shortcomings."

"As a member of the task force and a Democrat, I applaud Chair Wasserman Schultz and the DNC for launching this initiative," Brazile said. "Our goal is to help strengthen the party as a whole and provide a blueprint for state parties, candidates, activists, supporters and other decision makers as we move forward. We're excited to get to work."

In addition to Beshear, Schmidt and Brazile, other members of the task force are:

■ Naomi Aberly, a political activist and vice chairwoman of the DNC's National Finance Committee.

■ Maria Cardona, a principal at Dewey Square Group, the founder of Latinovations and a political contributor to CNN/CNN en Español.

■ Marc Elias, chairman of the Perkins Coie Political Law practice.

■ Teddy Goff, a partner at Precision Strategies, a communications, digital and data company for candidates, nonprofits and businesses.

■ Maneesh Goyal, founder and president of the marketing agency MKG and Live in the Grey, an initiative and consultancy focused on company culture and professional fulfillment.

■ Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party.

■ Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.