Jess O'Connell, the chief executive of the Democratic National Committee, is stepping down after less than a year on the job, she told DNC staff in an email on Monday night. O'Connell joined the DNC in May, leaving her position as head of Emily's List, and "when Jess walked in the door, the Democratic Party was broken," DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in the email, thanking O'Connell for helping begin the needed repairs.
The CEO is the top staff member at the DNC, running day-to-day operations and strategy while the chairman is off raising money or making public appearances, NBC News explains. O'Connell did not give a reason for her departure next month in the email, but it's a personal decision, a DNC official tells NBC News, and she is leaving now to cause minimal disruption before the midterm elections in November.
Since O'Connell took over day-to-day management of the DNC right before the party lost a closely fought special congressional election in suburban Atlanta, the Democrats racked up a string of big wins in Virginia, New Jersey, and Alabama, plus in local races across the country. O'Connell "presided over strategic — and often quiet — investments" in many of those winning races, The Washington Post reports. One marker of her success, as NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald notes, is that "the party has found itself subject to fewer negative headlines of late as fundraising started to improve and vacancies are filled."