Rep. John Lewis of Georgia is touting fellow lawmaker Rep. Keith Ellison as the next head of the Democratic National Committee.
In a video posted to Ellison’s YouTube page on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Lewis explained why he felt the Minnesota congressman was the “right guy” to fill the DNC chair, saying Ellison “has the ability and the capacity to inspire people to stand up, to speak up, to speak out.”
“He’s an organizer; he was born to organize,” the civil rights icon added. “We need his leadership. We need his vision. We need his commitment and his dedication now more than ever before.”
Lewis had already endorsed Ellison for DNC chair in a letter sent to committee members earlier this month, CNN reported. So far, Ellison, who’s in a tight race for the job with ex- Labor Secretary Tom Perez, has been endorsed by Vermont senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio even penned an op-ed for The Washington Post this week explaining why he felt Ellison would be great as DNC chairman.
“[The Democratic Party] needs determined leadership that’ll bring us together as one united party,” de Blasio wrote. “We need an inspiring vision of equality that resonates in the hearts, minds and souls of all Americans. We need to renew our commitment to strengthening our grass-roots infrastructure to take on President Trump and the Republicans.
“You’d be hard-pressed to write a better description of Keith Ellison’s approach to public service,” he continued. “That’s why I’m supporting him in the race to be the next chairman of the Democratic Party.”
The mayor went on to laud Ellison’s accomplishments, highlighting his fight to put working-class families at the center of U.S. economic efforts and his creation of coalitions to increase pay for federal contract workers. Moreover, the Minnesota congressman has worked to stop cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and increased voter turnout in his home state during key elections by reaching out to as many voters as possible, according to de Blasio.
“[Ellison] is committed to [boosting turnout] by shifting the resources of the Democratic Party toward a grass-roots focus on getting voters to the polls,” the mayor wrote. “Higher turnout everywhere means victories not only at the federal level but at the state and local levels as well.
“I believe Keith is the leader we need to build a party capable of channeling that power to win up and down the ballot,” he concluded.
Contender Tom Perez has secured some noteworthy endorsements himself, including one from former Vice President Joe Biden and governors Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, according to CNN.
Supporters of Ellison have warned, however, that a loss in the race for DNC chair would result in a major fallout and essentially squander the party’s opportunity to arouse new progressive grassroots efforts. The Huffington Post reported that some supporters are worried their chance to reshape the party’s image is also in jeopardy.
“If Perez wins, we’re not gonna come out with pitchforks and say, ‘No, no, no,'” Murshed Zaheed, political director of social change organization Credo Action, told the news site. “But, people are going to roll their eyes and just keeping doing what they do. It’s going to keep the DNC what it is — an irrelevant, old, stale entity that hasn’t been re-serviced since the Howard Dean days.”
DNC members are expected to elect a new chairman on Saturday, Feb. 25, in Atlanta, CNN reported. The news network hosted a debate with the DNC candidates ahead of the weekend vote on Wednesday, Feb. 22. The debate will be moderated by CNN’s Dana Bash and Chris Cuomo, according to CNN.