So, Who Wants to Lead the DNC Back From Defeat?
The focus for the past few weeks has been on the President-elect, of course, but the Democratic Party is currently in the midst of regrouping after a national loss and there are a few candidates tossing their name in the hat for party Chairman (or Chairwoman). This person will have the unenviable task of rebuilding a national party following a defeat, something that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has been doing since 2012.
The most prominent name with the widest backing, so far, has to be Rep. Keith Ellison, of Minnesota:
One of the first big decisions the Democratic Party has to make after losing the White House is who will be its next formal leader. Early jockeying has helped to clarify a field of candidates, dominated by Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, but the race is far from over.
The election won’t be held until late February during a meeting in Atlanta, and the only votes that matter are those of the several hundred members of the Democratic National Committee.
Ellison’s public support is impressive, and it has helped to keep potential challengers on the bench, but it’s not necessarily reflective of actual DNC votes.
Endorsement from Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont are coups for Ellison — but none of them has a vote on the DNC, and neither does Ellison, himself.
Ellison became notable back in 2006 when he became the first Muslim member of Congress. Since that time, he’s been an outspoken voice for progressive ideals.
Aside from Ellison, there really isn’t anyone else willing to take the helm. There might be an entry from Labor Secretary Tom Perez, but he may still run for Governor in Maryland instead.
The entry of another top-tier candidate, like Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who has expressed interest, would dramatically alter the race.
People close to Obama and to Hillary and Bill Clinton have looked for big-name alternatives, but so far they’ve come up short, at least publicly. Ellison endorsed Sanders in the presidential primaries and has been a progressive critic of the White House at times.
Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was approached, but she declined, according to several sources, while Reps. Xavier Becerra of California and Steve Israel of New York pulled themselves out of contention after considering runs, as did former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Another potential establishment favorite is also out after Vice President Joe Biden’s office shot down speculation about his leading the party Tuesday evening. Some Democrats had tried to draft Biden into the race.
“The vice president is not interested in being DNC chair, but he intends to remain deeply involved in helping shape the direction of the Democratic Party moving forward,” a spokesperson told NBC News.
Perez is biding his time before announcing a decision, but he may opt to run for governor of Maryland, instead.
That leaves a field of candidates that can be reduced to Ellison and everyone else.
There is, however, one other serious contender:
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said he is running for his old job atop the Democratic Party.
“The dems need organization and focus on the young,” Dean tweeted Thursday. “Need a fifty State strategy and tech rehab. I am in for chairman again.”
Dean served as Democratic National Committee chairman from 2005 to 2009. Donna Brazile is currently serving as interim chairwoman after Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down shortly before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
That’s right, the man famous for that scream wants his old job back. So far, he hasn’t garnered any backing, but that could change.
So, if no one else steps forward, the job may be handed to Ellison. As noted, he’s picked up some big endorsements for the job already, namely Senator Chuck Schumer, so he’s starting to consolidate support.
CNN gives more background on Ellison in the context of a Trump administration:
The country on Tuesday elected for president a man who once proposed “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Now, the first Muslim-American elected to Congress is eyeing the position of chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota is looking to make a run for the influential post, according to a source familiar with his thinking. Although Ellison has not yet officially commented on the speculation, the congressman has already picked up endorsements from prominent colleagues in Congress, including popular liberal Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is expected to be the next Senate minority leader. On Sunday Ellison also won the backing from the current Democratic Senate leader, Harry Reid of Nevada.
The term “Muslim-American” strikes me as odd. It would be the equivalent of calling Mike Pence a “Christian-American,” since neither Islam nor Christianity are a race, such as the term “African-American.” But, I digress from that.
The 2017 DNC Chairperson election will be held on or before March 31, 2017.