Ellison Pitches Bold Vision as Race for DNC Chair Becomes Battle for Soul of Party
With Sen. Bernie Sanders by his side, Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.), who is running for chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), laid out his plan Wednesday to transform the party to one based on progressive values and speaking to the needs of all working people.
“We have got to reset the future of the Democratic Party on a basis of grassroots activism,” Ellison told the rally, held at the American Federation of Teachers headquarters in Washington, D.C. and livestreamed to a national audience. “On the basis of working people striving every day to make a better life for themselves. African-Americans, white Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, Jews, and Muslims, and Christians, and Hindus, or people of no faith at all. Folks like you and me. Folks like us need to say the Democratic Party has to be democratic and that starts with getting leadership in there to fight for that.”
With the news Wednesday that Labor Secretary Tom Perez would be challenging Ellison for the position, the race appears to shaping up into another battle between establishment Democrats and the ascendant, progressive wing represented by Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Putting the match-up in stark terms, NBC News senior political editor Mark Murray wrote Wednesday: “DNC chair race is turning into Obama/Clinton (Perez) vs. Bernie (Ellison).”
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Reeling from the devastating results of the November election, many within the party are pointing to the failure of corporate Democrats to respond to the needs of their working class base as a large reason for the loss, and are thus advocating for an overhaul that mirrors the principles of the voters.
But, “Perez’s decision is seen as an effort by the exiting Obama-era leadership to keep control of the party in trusted hands,” the Washington Post reported Wednesday. South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison and New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley are also in the running.
A Politico email survey of voting DNC members taken before Perez’s candidacy was made public found the majority of respondents were reluctant to get behind Ellison, despite wide popularity and a growing list of endorsements.
The news outlet attributed this largely to the fact that many establishment Dems are unwilling to support “a Bernie person,” as Tennessee committeeman William Owen put it.
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