The front-runner for the vacant position of permanent chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, took a big step today to address one objection to his candidacy. The Hill reports:
Ellison said Wednesday he’ll resign from Congress if he’s elected chairman … removing a major hurdle to his bid that was viewed as a deal-breaker for many in the party.
Ellison is the early front-runner to be the next DNC chairman, racking up endorsements from progressives, mainstream Democrats and labor groups.
But with the national party in crisis and in need of a dramatic overhaul in the wake of a disastrous election cycle, the desire for a full-time chairman who is not splitting duties on Capitol Hill emerged as a major point of contention to Ellison’s bid.
This concern was one mentioned by former DNC chairman Howard Dean over the weekend in remarks withdrawing his own candidacy for the job. But it’s unclear exactly what Ellison will or even can do to address Dean’s other proviso: that the fight for DNC chair not be a proxy war between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Ellison was a strong supporter of Sanders, and one of his announced rivals for the DNC position, South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison, backed Clinton during the 2016 nomination contest. A third contender, New Hampshire party chief Ray Buckley, was neutral.
Maybe all three of these candidates ought to make a joint statement rejecting the idea of a continuation of the 2016 primaries, and pledging to focus on practical party-building ideas. They can leave the “struggle for the soul of the party” ideological duels and big messaging decisions to the Democrats who will actually be running for office in 2018, and to the punditocracy, who loves that stuff.