Jason Rae elected DNC secretary

Louis Weisberg, Staff writer

Jason Rae has a classic baby face, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped people from taking him seriously.

The youngest person ever to win election to the Democratic National Committee, he recently became, at age 30, one of the youngest to be elected DNC secretary.

The Rice Lake native remembers admonishing his parents to vote for Bill Clinton when they dropped him off at a babysitter’s place in 1992. He was about 5 years old.

At 14, he regularly rode his bike to Barron County to attend Democratic Party meetings.

Why is he so drawn to politics? “It’s just always been inside me,” he says. “I’ve always viewed it as my way to give back and make a difference. It’s my way to influence decisions that are being made.”

As DNC secretary, a volunteer position, Rae will be the official keeper of the committee’s minutes and records, oversee communications with DNC members and help to certify delegates for the party’s national convention.

Rae is excited about working on the next chapter in the Democratic Party’s history, one in which Democrats plan to work in all 50 states to develop candidates and win elections from the bottom of the ballot to the top. He wants to help “choose candidates committed to middle-class values, the LGBT community and millennials.”

In addition, Rae says he’ll strive to “make sure that Wisconsin and the Midwest are heard on the national level” and to ensure that “our values and progressive ideas are heard at the table.”

“We’ve got a lot of work to do here in Wisconsin,” he adds.

Besides his involvement in politics, which includes a full-time job as a political consultant, Rae organized the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce in 2012. While several prior efforts to develop such a group failed, he not only launched the chamber, but also grew its membership to just under 500, including some of the largest and most influential companies in the state.

“A lot of the companies are really focused on how they can best serve different communities in different markets,” Rae says. “Many of them have reached out to us. They want to be involved in order to best support their LGBT employees.”

In 2015, the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce became one of the youngest such chambers to receive the National Chamber of the Year Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

In juggling so many roles, Rae is helped by support from his husband Phillip Bailey. The two married in May 2015.

“He was excited and extremely encouraging as I was considering whether to run (for DNC secretary),” Rae enthuses. “He’s a constant source of strength in this process and everything I’ve ever done.”

At the DNC, Rae is joining new leadership that includes chairman Tom Perez, who served as labor secretary in Barack Obama’s administration, as well as U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who took the role of deputy chair.

Despite reports of contention during the party’s leadership election, Rae says he saw unity.

“At the end of the days, we’re united and we’ll stay united,” he said.