Meet the Rising Democrat That Bernie Sanders Wants to Lead the DNC

November 15th 2016

Mike Rothschild

In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, Democrats have been looking for a national committee chair who could rebuild the party, reach out to disaffected groups who once voted for President Barack Obama, and rally potential Donald Trump supporters to their cause. Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison was one of the early favorites to run, and despite not having declared his candidacy, he was endorsed by a number of powerful Democrats in and out of politics.

Ellison formally declared his candidacy on Monday.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Chuck Schumer have all recommended Ellison, an African-American Muslim representing Minnesota, for the position, citing his progressivism and outreach abilities.

Ellison was also one of the first elected officials in either party to predict President-elect Donald Trump was a serious contender in the Republican primary.

His announcement statement made a point of excoriating Democratic turnout, and saying the party must do a better job, not just with presidential elections, but at the state, local, and municipal level as well. He stressed the importance of field operations and of collaboration between candidates and the DNC.

Ellison will likely face a challenge from former DNC chairman Howard Dean, who helped the Democrats reclaim the House, Senate and Oval Office during his term as DNC chairman between 2005 and 2009. Dean has raised questions about how Ellison, a sitting legislator, can run the DNC while performing his elected duties.

The election for a new DNC head will take place early next year.