MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Democratic Party is being led by a new face Saturday night — and it doesn’t belong to Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, who lost his bid to lead the DNC.
Ellison had been campaiging for chairman of the Democratic National Committee since November. He lost in a close race Saturday.
The winner, former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez immediately named Ellison deputy chair of the DNC.
“I’m asking you to give everything you got to support Chairman Perez,” Ellison said.
Ellison focused much of his DNC concession speech on coming together.
Hamline Law professor and political science expert David Schultz says Ellison’s post as deputy chair of the DNC is largely symbolic of that need for unity.
“For a lot of people, this is going to be a signal that certain voices, the most progressive voices, aren’t going to be heard within the Democratic Party, and therefore the consolation as number two isn’t going to be viewed as good,” he said.
Schultz says the race between Ellison and Perez is reminiscent of the race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the far left of the party versus the establishment, with the establishment coming out on top again.
“We don’t have the luxury, folks, to walk out of this room divided,” Ellison said.
But Minnesota’s Republican lawmakers see both Ellison and Perez as more of the same.
Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey issued a statement that reads: “In a move that shows just how far left, radical, and disconnected they have become, Democrats elected Tom Perez as DNC chair and Congressman Keith Ellison as deputy chair.
“This one-two, left wing punch further proves Democrats are out of touch and will continue to move even further out of the mainstream. They learned absolutely nothing from this past election.”
Schultz doesn’t see the DNC’s decision as a sign the party is lurching left.
“I think what it signals is a statement by the democrats saying look, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. We didn’t do that badly. We can more or less fine tune our message and our positions, but not seeing a need to make a major change in the Democratic Party,” he said.
Schultz said while the deputy chair role is largely symbolic it could mean the chair wants to work together more with Ellison to decide on the future of party policy.
The biggest impact for Minnesota is that Ellison had said he would resign from his role as congressman in Minnesota if he became DNC chair. Now, he will not resign.