I have decided to throw my support behind Keith Ellison in the DNC chair’s race. We have some great candidates, including three of our best state chairs. Tom Perez was one of the best labor secretaries this country ever had, and he would be a terrific chair.
But Keith is uniquely positioned to bring this party together and forge a path to victory in 2018 and 2020. I say that as an almost 25-year member of the DC party establishment. I came to DC after working on Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign in order to serve in his White House, and I will always love and admire the Clintons, as well as President Obama and his team. But I also know that the Sanders wing of the party, along with other progressive grassroots and Netroots activists, are having trouble reconciling themselves to what they think of as the party “establishment.” Keith bridges that divide, not only keeping the Bernie people at the table, but making them enthused about working with the party going forward.
Keith was a Sanders supporter who, once the primary process was over, quickly and enthusiastically endorsed Hillary and campaigned for her all over the country. On the platform committee, he fought for a robustly progressive platform, but was willing to forge compromises. Keith proclaimed that platform to be the best in history when the process was done. As a Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair, he fought hard for the House Democratic Caucus to take strong progressive stands, but he has also been a loyal team player to Nancy Pelosi and the Obama White House.
On top of all that, Keith knows how to win elections. His solid GOTV operation in his safely Democratic district has been one of the main reasons that Democrats keep winning statewide elections in a Midwestern region that has otherwise turned considerably more red since 2008. The CPC PAC Keith has helped lead has been closely involved in the winning campaigns of several new members of Congress in a couple of recent cycles where new House democrats have been few and far between. Keith’s populist message has proven effective with swing working-class voters in the Midwest and other parts of the country, which is why so many party leaders from around the country have already endorsed him. And he is the third highest fundraiser in the House, showing that he knows how to do that very practical and important thing that helps win elections.
Outside of Congress, across the entire progressive movement, Keith has been a stalwart supporter of the key groups in the Democratic coalition from Labor, to the Netroots, to civil rights, feminist, LGBT, green, and many other organizations.
Bottom line, the Democratic Party needs a leader who can bridge the divide between the Clinton and Bernie factions, someone who listens to all Democrats, across the country. We need a leader who knows how important it is to inspire and motivate the base, but can appeal to working-class swing voters. And we need some new thinking - both out of the box, and out of the beltway.