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Brazile strains Dem unity ahead of key gov race in Virginia

This July 26, 2016 file photo shows former head of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile speaking during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Brazile says she considered replacing Hillary Clinton as the party’s presidential nominee with then-Vice President Joe Biden. She makes the revelation in a memoir being released Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. This is according to The Washington Post, which obtained an advance copy of the book. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, file)

By HOPE YEN | AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are having trouble surmounting differences over the bitter 2016 election amid revelations of a contemplated effort to replace Hillary Clinton as the presidential nominee, deepening party strife just before Tuesday’s closely watched Virginia governor’s race.

The fate of that bellwether election will likely make a weighty statement about Democratic prospects in 2018 and beyond.

“Everywhere I go right now, we’re focused on elections … and what the people are telling me is they want to know how they’re going to get their good jobs back, how are they going to get health care,” said Tom Perez, the party’s chairman, on Sunday.

Perez then launched into an attack on the 2016 claims of his predecessor, interim DNC leader Donna Brazile, as “ludicrous” and “without merit.”

The dueling across the Sunday news show platforms was triggered by the disclosure that Brazile, the DNC chair during the final months of the campaign, considered an effort to replace Clinton with then-Vice President Joe Biden because of health concerns.

Brazile, who claimed “tremendous pressure” to devise a backup ticket after Clinton fainted at an event, pushed back at critics: “Go to hell. I’m going to tell my story.”

The dispute was spurred by Brazile’s revelations in a memoir being released Tuesday and reported on by The Washington Post. It reflected simmering tensions between establishment and insurgent wings that will set the party’s future course on issues from its platform to the primary schedule and use of superdelegates — party leaders and elected officials who get a say in the nomination — in the 2020 presidential race.

“One of the things, as we go forward, is to give more power to the grass roots in all this,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, urging Democrats not to “relitigate elections.”

It comes in the final hours before Virginia’s governor race, where Republicans have not won a significant statewide election since 2009. The Democratic candidate, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, is casting the race to voters as a way to repudiate the policies of President Donald Trump against Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman.

But Northam has received lukewarm support within his own party from the progressive group Democracy for America.

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