Right as Democrats are looking for answers to losing the presidential election last week, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison’s announcement that he will run for the chair of the Democratic National Committee was met with praise from his congressional colleagues.
“It is time for the Democratic Party to make it clear that we will become a grassroots party which stands with the working families of this country and will fight for a government that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent. That’s the kind of change Keith Ellison represents and why he must become the next chair of the Democratic Party,” Sanders said.
Ellison’s announcement on Monday comes as the DNC looks to restructure its party to appeal to voters now that Republicans control both houses of Congress and will also have the White House in January.
According to Sanders, who has championed Ellison since before he formally announced his, a petition on Sanders’ website to elect Ellison had already garnered over 555,000 signatures – 250,000 signed in the first 24 hours.
In addition to the staunch support of Sanders, who many believe will run for President in 2020, Ellison has drawn backing from DNC vice chair Raymond Thomas Rybak, and a handful of labor leaders and organizations. Along with Sanders, Senators Chuck Shumer, Amy Klobuchar, and Harry Reid, also voiced their support.
But Ellison has already been targeted by the right because of his religious beliefs. He is the first Muslim to serve in Congress. ThinkProgress.org reported that TruthRevolt.com, a conservative website, branded Ellison a “Muslim Brotherhood” shill, linking him to the terrorist group. Also, Fox News called him a “former disciple of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.”
Ellison could be elected the next chairman of the DNC early next year. The position will be voted upon by DNC members across the nation. He would succeed interim chairwoman Donna Brazile. But Ellison is not alone in his effort to lead the committee. South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison said on MSNBC that he would be entering the race. Also former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is said to be a candidate as well.
“I am proud to announce my candidacy for Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and if given the opportunity to serve, I will work tirelessly to make the Democratic Party an organization that brings us together and advances an agenda that improves people’s lives,” Ellison said in a statement.
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) November 14, 2016