Congressman Keith Ellison should be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. At least that’s how Rhode Island’s four delegates will vote when the party meets next week to elect a new leader, according to a press release from the Rhode Island Democratic Party.
“In the aftermath of this nation’s elections, it’s clear we need someone who can work at a grassroots level, mobilize energy and support on social and economic justice issues, and rebuild our Democratic base,” said party Chairman Joe McNamara, a state representative from Warwick, in the press release. “Congressman Ellison has the ideas, passion and skills to get this job done.”
A progressive Muslim from Minnesota with a strong commitment to social and economic justice, Ellison is vying to be the next chair. The DNC will vote on February 25 at its meeting in Atlanta.
Also seeking the position is Tom Perez, Barack Obama’s labor secretary, a progressive but backed Hillary Clinton. Ellison campaigned hard for Bernie Sanders. The campaign for chair of the DNC is seen as an early sign of whether Democrats will retool as the party of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, or continue along as the party of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The New York Times called it “a straightforward proxy war between the candidates most closely identified with” Sanders and Clinton.
That the Rhode Island Democratic Party is voting for Ellison is a sign that the party is willing to tack away from the neoliberal leadership of Obama and Clinton and embrace the more-progressive ideals of Sanders and Warren.
“The voices of our base must be heard; and our Party will be rebuilt from the ground up,” said McNamara in the press release. “We have already seen, since this president’s inauguration millions of Americans marching and protesting to voice their outrage at President Trump and GOP policies and actions. The calls to our office have been incredible hundreds of people asking how they can volunteer and make a difference. We are rebuilding our caucuses and engaging folks like not in recent history.”
McNamara, party Vice Chair Rep. Grace Diaz, Edna O’Neill Mattson and Frank J. Montanaro, the four voting members of the state party, will all be casting their votes for Ellison, the press release said.
Ellison was endorsed locally by 28 state legislators, 10 city and town councilors, one school committee member, the North Kingstown Democratic Party, and, most notably, the Young Democrats of Rhode Island, who organized much of the local support for Ellison.
The Rhode Island Democratic Party made the announcement after Ellison shared the news the day before. In Ellison’s announcement, he said he also secured 21 additional votes from Vermont, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. According to the Sacremento Bee newspaper, Ellison is also “coalescing a growing group of leaders in California.”