Just three days after President-elect Donald Trump mounted a massive upset victory over Hillary Clinton, some of the top Democratic leaders have offered a new direction for the party in rallying behind a candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Over the past two days, Rep. Keith Ellison has garnered endorsements for the position from top Senate leaders, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and likely incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“I really, really like Keith,” Warren told MSNBC on Thursday. “I think he’s terrific and I think he would make a terrific DNC chair.”
The Huffington Post reported on Thursday that Ellison was actively running for DNC chair. For his part, the congressman said he’d announce formally on Monday whether he’d seek the position.
Ellison’s nomination would represent a notable shift to the left for the organisation, whose recent chairs have been essentially appointed by President Barack Obama. The co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Ellison was one of the only members of Congress who backed Sanders during the Democratic primary. He’d also be the first Muslim chair of the organisation, a point which would contrast with Trump’s proposal to bar all Muslims from entering the US.
Yet, despite the slew of support, Ellison isn’t the only candidate vying for the job.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2004, tweeted Thursday that he would seek the job he occupied from 2005 to 2008. He quickly took a swing at Ellison.
“I like Keith Ellison a lot. He’s a very good guy. There’s one problem. You cannot do this job and sit in a political office at the same time. It’s not possible,” Dean said in an interview on MSNBC. The party’s maligned former chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who resigned earlier this year amid leaks of hacked emails, had both roles.
As chair, Dean aggressively sought connections with the grassroots of the party while clashing occasionally with top leaders who criticised the former governor for lagging in fundraising and adopting an overly ambitious 50-state strategy that attempted to put traditionally Republican states into play.
But Dean also played a major role in updating the DNC’s technology and voter-file information, a goal that the former chair echoed in his announcement on Thursday.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, whose 2016 presidential bid never gained momentum, also announced on Friday that he was taking a “hard look” at the job.
“I’m taking a hard look at DNC chair because I know how badly we need to reform our nominating process, articulate a bold progressive vision, recommit ourselves to higher wages and a stronger middle class, and return to our roots as a nationwide, grassroots party,” O’Malley said in a statement.
O’Malley has been telling Democrats for months that he’s interested in the job, but people close to the former governor told Business Insider that he saw no viable path if Clinton won the White House.
O’Malley could also be well suited for the job from a traditional standpoint. The former governor has some similar experience fundraising as chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association.
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