Following up on this report in the Washington Times yesterday, as well as pressure from other DNC candidates and Democratic Party insiders, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told his hometown newspaper he would commit to being a full-time Democratic National Committee chairman if he is elected to the position:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison will vacate his congressional seat if he wins the chairman job at the Democratic National Committee, he told the Star Tribune Wednesday morning.
Ellison conceded Wednesday that a full-time chair is what the party wanted after the losses of the 2016 presidential and congressional elections. He said he came to the decision after difficult soul-searching and hearing from the more than 400 voting members of the DNC who said they wouldn’t vote him as long as he was a sitting member of Congress.
The previous chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was a Florida congresswoman.
“Serving my neighbors in Congress and fighting for them has been the best job I’ve ever had,” Ellison said, in an e-mail. “Whether it was for immigration reform, worker’s rights, gender equity, or social justice, we stood side by side so that every person in American … is treated with respect and given every opportunity to succeed. Until the DNC Chair election, I plan to continue doing just that.”
If Ellison wins and vacates his seat, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton – a Democrat – will call for a special election in 2017 to fill the seat, which represents the reliably Democratic stronghold of Minneapolis. Ultimately, the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives wouldn’t change or be affected much.
By pledging to do so, Ellison takes the issue off the table for the rest of his candidacy. Whether that will lead to more support for his candidacy among committee members – the 447 party insiders who will elect the next chairman – remains to be seen.