HDCC Exec. Director Set to Step Down

HDCC-logoHDCC Executive Director Ethan Smith is moving on.

Smith, who joined the House Democratic Campaign Committee as Executive Director in 2011, is stepping down at the end of the month.

He will be joining GQR Research as Director of State Legislative Programs.

Smith made clear the departure was amicable and HDCC Chair State Rep. Tim Briggs wished him well.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for Ethan,” Briggs told PoliticsPA. “He’s a great guy, worked for us for two cycles and served us well.”

As for Smith’s successor, Briggs indicated that the committee is aiming to make an announcement in January or February after the inauguration of Governor-Elect Tom Wolf.

In 2012, the House Democrats broke even but lost eight seats this year.

December 10th, 2014 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 22 Comments

22 thoughts on “HDCC Exec. Director Set to Step Down”

  1. steventodd says:

    Will anyone notice?

    After two abysmal election cycles, where Dems barely showed up.

    Onward, fellow Dems.

  2. Roger Lund says:

    I look forward to the next phase of the HDCC. There is much more to this story than what has been discussed, including the alliance formed by HDCC with Fresh Start this year rather than the State Democratic Party. That was clearly a bad decision and one no one seems to talk about.

    While I am not defending Ethan or his staff, I do understand the turmoil created by others for them in the middle of the election process this year. I certainly wish Ethan well and I agree with those who say there needs to be stronger leadership at the HDCC. To those who blame Jim Burn or the PA Democratic Party: educate yourselves. In an effort to shore up a relationship with the presumed governor-elect, the leaders of this group and the SDCC both walked away from the party and signed on with Fresh Start. Obviously we see how that turned out for them.

    My hope is folks will regroup, begin to work together and together come up with strategies for the future. Hopefully, lessons were learned.

  3. ChuckBronson says:

    @Kelly Jean- With all due respect, I don’t believe the problems at the HDCC have anything to do with the gender of the Directors. Over the last 18 years the HDCC has been lead by woman for nearly as many years as it has been by men. What they need to do is hire someone who actually understands all aspects of the game. Someone who doesn’t think they are the next political genius, but understand you win through hard work. You also have to have someone who truly understands targeting and field operations going into the 2016 election cycle of the Presidential/Coordinated will walk all over them.

  4. Kelly Jean McEntee says:

    @Tess, thanks for correcting that statement…perhaps it is time for a qualified woman to lead HDCC.

  5. David Diano says:


    I feel similarly about Briggs and his lax attitude. I felt he should have called out Brady for his sabotage of putting a candidate up against John Taylor (in a 2-1 Dem district in Philly). But, Briggs isn’t going to challenge Brady for his treachery. So, we need a Chair who will fight to fill every ballot slot, and not give the GOP a freebie.

    Someone reading site this messaged me privately and suggested that the Exec Director listens more to the house minority leader than the Chair.

    I don’t know if the HDCC has anyone in mind already for the Exec Director position, but I know a few operatives who would fight tooth and nail for every seat. I hope they apply.

  6. C'mon says:

    Thanks for your question David. I believe they both deserve a lot of blame but it squarely falls on Briggs shoulders. Why Briggs did not let Ethan Smith go after the 2012 embarrassment is a big mystery. There was no excuse for the poor strategy and performance of that cycle.

    This time around in 2014 the HDCC is saying they were a victim of a bad year for Dems but as we all know 2012 was a good year for Dems in PA and they still lost. So they are just full of it.

    Rumor is that Briggs is going around telling people it’s unfair if he just gets the bad mid-term election and wants to do 2016 when Dems will do better. I guess it is lost on him that his job is to affect the outcome of the races, not spectate and then take credit (or run from responsibility) after the election’s over.

    Hope that helps Mr. Diano.

  7. SWPA Dem says:

    Glad to see the HDCC move in a better direction. Total disconnect there. The state party needs a change too… Getting a new chair and younger people. The State GOP dumps all kind of money into races in the southwestern PA and we have a state Dem party holding a fundraiser to pay its own rent in Harrisburg.

    Sad situation. Time for new leadership from across the state.

  8. Steve says:

    Whoever hired him to work on state races is going to lose business.

  9. Jay says:

    Fire Jim Burn next!

  10. Tess says:

    Ethan Smith just doesn’t have what it takes to win. Zero personality and a complete inability to connect with people. HDCC needs to hire a Director that doesn’t have such disdain for women and presents themselves in a more professional manner.

  11. Tess says:

    Ethan Smith just doesn’t have what it takes to win. Zero personality and a complete inability to connect with people. HDCC needs to hire a Director that doesn’t have such disdain for women and presents himself in a more professional manner.

  12. David Diano says:


    Who is more responsible for the losses? The Exec Director or the Chair?

  13. C'mon says:

    C’mon guys! Let’s not focus on the fact that he didn’t win a single race in two consecutive cycles overseeing the House Dems! And let’s not focus on the fact that the GOP gained the largest majority in the legislature in almost a century during those two cycles!

    Let’s focus on what mattered: he tried. And he tried dang hard! And I’m sure he’s going to continue trying really hard at this smart polling firm that hired him.

    That’s what matters, guys! Amirite?

  14. WPAdem says:

    Congrats to Ethan–well deserved!

  15. happydays says:

    Bottom line, he was terrible.

  16. Idiots running things says:

    The last two EDs of the HDCC funneled millions of dollars to the two consulting groups that hired both of them. End the corruption

  17. LiberalProud says:

    he did a fantastic job given this year’s tough political climate for democrats. thanks for your service ethan smith

  18. The Lizard says:

    Not a day too soon. I don’t know who will miss him, Objectivevoter, but certainly not the candidates trying to get elected.

  19. Northeast Dem says:

    Praise Jesus. What a waste.

  20. Objectivevoter says:

    He will be missed. I wish him the best in his future endeavors..

  21. David Diano says:

    When does the Chair step down or get replaced after this year’s shellacking?

Comments are closed.