Moderated by April Ryan, Urban Radio Networks
Big get for Keith Ellison in the DNC chairman race. He sent out this statement from John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party:
“I am supporting Keith Ellison for DNC chair because he is committed full time to organizing field efforts in key states, and I agree with him that Democrats must do a better job to motivate voters across the nation, including championing working families and their issues.
“Keith knows that elections aren’t won in Washington, D.C. He understands the investment and support state parties need and will help foster a strong bench of candidates, effective field operations and open communication between the National Democratic Party and every state, especially those that need it the most.
“And over the last few months, I’ve received overwhelming feedback from activist Democrats across CA who back Keith. People like to refer to California as a blue state, but it was just over 6 years ago we fought to successfully take back the Governorship from a Republican, and I credit our successes to a re-energized state party that supports its grassroots volunteers and promotes candidates who reflect California’s values. Keith Ellison’s commitment to organizing gives me hope we’ll see similar results across the nation.”
Why is this important? 1) As state party chairman, Burton is one of the party insiders who has a say in picking the next DNC chairman at the party’s winter meeting in Atlanta at the end of the month. 2) As NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald points out, California has the largest delegation to the DNC. (NOTE: For those of you seeing this as a Bernie-Hillary proxy war, keep in mind that Hillary Clinton won the California primary 55-43.)
UPDATE: Here’s the statement from the California Democratic Party’s Twitter account:
Keith Ellison rolled out several big endorsements over the last few days leading up to today’s DNC Forum in Detroit.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale (who, like Ellison, is also from Minnesota):
“I’m pleased to support Keith Ellison, a fellow Minnesotan, as the next Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Keith was a Minnesota star in the state legislature and now in the U.S. House. Keith believes that we need to help all Americans succeed, and this message of inclusiveness is one that has resonated with people in the 5th Congressional District in Minnesota, who have re-elected Keith five times and who have turned out to vote in increasing numbers ever since Keith took office. Keith is exactly the type of person our Party needs right now, and I know he’d use his talents to elect Democrats across our country if he’s the next DNC Chair.”
I ask you to join me in supporting my colleague and dear friend, Keith Ellison, for DNC Chair. Keith’s long history as an organizer who can energize the grassroots makes him the best choice to lead our party during this critical time. He knows that sometimes you have to have good trouble. You have to get in the way and raise your voice. But protest must be channeled into electoral and legislative success. Keith’s record standing with the grassroots means he is a trusted partner to harness this protest energy into rebuilding the Democratic Party.
The Teamsters (Worth noting that the Teamsters endorsed Ellison and not the most recent former Labor Secretary Tom Perez):
Today, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters endorsed Rep. Keith Ellison to lead the Democratic National Committee. Rep. Ellison is a strong voice for working families and labor.
“It is time for the Democratic Party to get back to its roots and focus on the issues that matter most to workers – jobs, health care and retirement security. Rep. Ellison is a proven organizer who knows that these battles are won in the field, not the corridors of Washington.
The Nation: one of the oldest liberal/progressive publications in the United States.
The right response to this crisis is a retooling of the Democratic National Committee to align it more closely with movements for social and economic justice. The party must make the inside/outside connection that will strengthen immediate resistance to the Trump regime, while improving the long-term electoral prospects of Democrats. Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is prepared to do just that. In an impressive field of contenders for the position of DNC chair—including party leaders that The Nation has often praised, like former labor secretary Tom Perez, as well as energetic newcomers like Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana—it is Ellison who combines the ideals, skills, and movement connections that will revitalize the party.
Sally Boynton Brown:
“This is a stolen seat. The process for Antonin Scalia’s replacement has been delayed by Senate Republicans for nearly a year, and now we have an historically unpopular president who lost the popular vote by three million votes nominating a Scalia clone to the High Court. The American people won’t stand for this, and the Democratic Party will stand in lockstep with them.”
“The judge nominated by President Obama for this Supreme Court seat, Merrick Garland, was called ‘a consensus nominee’ by Senator Orrin Hatch. But Senate Republicans refused to even give him a hearing; Mitch McConnell said, ‘Let’s let the American people decide.’ Well, by a margin of almost 3 million, more Americans chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump to fill this seat. So President Trump would have been wise to choose a consensus nominee like Merrick Garland. But given Trump’s radical actions since the start of his presidency, we should not be surprised that he has chosen a judge whose record favoring big corporations and opposing civil rights suggests that he is a right-wing zealot. Unless the hearings somehow reveal that Judge Gorsuch’s extreme record will not continue on our nation’s highest court, bring out the cots for a filibuster.”
“I always say that past is prologue, and today President Donald Trump proved that theory true when he announced a nominee just as extreme and divisive as his past 12 days in office. President Trump’s selection of Judge Gorsuch to serve a lifetime term on our nation’s highest court only further cements what we’ve witnessed over the first 12 days of his administration: that he doesn’t give a damn about upholding the Constitution.
“Judge Gorsuch has already led the attack on women’s reproductive health from the bench and would eagerly overturn Roe v. Wade if confirmed. He has an abysmal record on protecting citizens from police brutality and would seriously jeopardize bipartisan efforts toward criminal justice reform. He would similarly dismantle the gains we’ve made for LGBT Americans and serve as a reliable vote in favor of voter suppression on the high court. In short, a Justice Gorsuch would discriminate against a majority of Americans from the bench. This alone is disqualifying.
“And just yesterday, Donald Trump demonstrated that what he’s most concerned with is putting in place sycophants who can’t be trusted to hold him accountable when he breaks the law and violates the Constitution. We should expect nothing less from his judicial nominees.
“Simply put, a Justice Gorsuch on the Supreme Court is intolerable and it’s up to Democrats to block his nomination.
“As I’ve said before, we need to afford Donald Trump the same level of cooperation Mitch McConnell afforded President Obama. That starts with making sure that Judge Gorsuch never sits on the Supreme Court.”
I haven’t seen any statements on Keith Ellison’s campaign and congressional websites or any of his social media accounts. This post will be updated if he issues a statement or makes a public comment.
Here’s the field for the second DNC forum. Note that this will be the first appearance by the last four names at the bottom of the list.
Sally Boynton Brown, Idaho
Raymond Buckley, New Hampshire
Pete Buttigieg, Indiana
Keith Ellison, Minnesota
Jehmu Greene, Texas
Jaime Harrison, South Carolina
Honorable Tom Perez, Maryland
Peter Peckarsky, Wisconsin
Sam Ronan, Ohio
Vincent Tolliver, Georgia
Robert Vinson Brannum, Washington, D.C.
New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman pointed out:
According to the Free Beacon, six out of the seven candidates running for chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee were in Florida last Saturday during a retreat of major Democratic donors organized by David Brock. The one exception: South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg:
Brock’s retreat was planned independently of the Women’s March which took place the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. If any of them had known that march was going to be as big of an event as it was, they all probably would have gone to the nearest local march. This also raises the issue about the party’s relationship with donors and big money, a question which came up during the first DNC regional forum in Phoenix as well as interviews with the different candidates running for the job. One question to watch in Houston this weekend will be whether Buttigieg uses this issue to distinguish himself from the rest of the candidates.
One other point worth mentioning about the Women’s March: George W. Bush had to start a war two years into his presidency to get that kind of global opposition and protest against him. Donald Trump accomplished it on the second day of his presidency.
The seven DNC candidates are participating in a debate organized by the Huffington Post hosted at George Washington University being streamed live online. Read the live blog below the break…
Per luck of the draw backstage, each candidate gets two minutes for opening remarks. Tom Perez goes first:
- “I feel like Lou Gehrig… the luckiest person on the face of the Earth.”
- Perez gets huge applause for mentioning his fight in DOJ against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
- “We need a turnaround artist.”
Tom Perez pulled off a hat trick with organized labor today, following up his endorsements by United Farm Workers and United Food and Commercial Workers by earning the endorsement of the International Association of Firefighters for his campaign to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The statement reads in part:
In the race for Chair of the Democratic Party, our union believes Tom Perez is the person who has the right mix of personal background, progressive values, experience and total commitment to all workers, in all regions and states across the country to do just that.
To have Tom as the Chair of one of our nation’s two major political parties would be a significant victory for workers across America.
This endorsement represents a break from the AFL-CIO – which the IAFF is a part of – which endorsed Keith Ellison on December 8.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, the North Carolina state legislature – which is controlled by Republican supermajorities in both chambers – passed two bills that would limit the powers of the incoming Democratic governor Roy Cooper, bills that were signed into law by the outgoing Republican incumbent Pat McCrory who just lost his reelection bid.
Keith Ellison weighed in on these developments during a conference call:
“The DNC has an election protection program, and this is at the heart of their mission,” he said. “It needs to step up right now to say this is outrageous, and get lawyers to oppose this undemocratic action that is happening right now. You gotta be in the fight.”
Tom Perez issued a statement:
I have not seen any official statements or public comments about North Carolina from any of the other candidates. If they do make any, this post will be updated to include them.