Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison could take the helm of the Democratic National Committee this weekend in Atlanta as the party makes decisions on its future at its winter meeting.
The Democrats, hurting over the loss of the presidential race and many legislative seats in Congress in November, are attempting to regroup and figure out a new platform that will steer them toward the 2018 midterm elections and the 2020 White House race. But the first step is choosing new leadership and major choices have come down to Ellison, who is the first Muslim to serve in Congress and former Obama administration Labor Secretary Tom Perez.
Others vying for the leadership position include Sally Boynton Brown, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party; Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind.; Jehmu Greene, former president of Rock the Vote; and Jaime Harrison, chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party.
But a survey taken by The Hill gives Ellison an advantage over Perez from voting members. About 240 DNC members were either polled in the survey or gave a public endorsement about the race and 105 showed support for Ellison, while 57 were behind Perez. But that leaves many undecided voters and could likely lead to several rounds of balloting.
“All of the public posturing, the big endorsements—none of that matters. It all comes down to the 447 voting members, and they want to know who is going to be able to rebuild the infrastructure of the DNC,” Mo Elleithee, a former party spokesperson who now heads Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, told The Hill. “Whoever can best walk into this weekend answering that question…walks in with an advantage.”
Ellison, the first Muslim to serve in Congress emerged as a frontrunner for the party leadership with the backing of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachussets and Democratic minority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. Perez, however has won the support of former vice president Joe Biden and former attorney general Eric Holder.
The winner of the DNC election will replace interim chair Donna Brazile, who replaced Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who resigned the position last summer.