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Democratic National Committee chair race: Could Ellison win it?

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Supporters of Rep. Keith Ellison and former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez speaking to each other during a Democratic National Committee forum in Baltimore on Saturday.

Spend any time in Rep. Keith Ellison’s orbit and you’ll hear the congressman or his aides invoke an unofficial motto: campaign like you’re always ten points behind.

Usually, Ellison doesn’t really need to: his Minneapolis district is among the most heavily Democratic congressional districts in the country.

Right now, however, Ellison is campaigning like he’s at least ten points behind — but for another gig. In less than two weeks, 447 Democrats will meet in Atlanta to select the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, and Ellison’s name is on the ballot.

For months, Ellison has been campaigning around the country in his bid to lead the Democratic Party, out of power and institutionally bereft after a devastating 2016 election and years of neglect.

He faces nine rivals for the post, making this the first truly competitive battle for chair since 1988. That’s a reflection of the deep division within the party over what kind approach will lead Democrats back to prominence and power. It’s also reflective of how important Democrats anticipate the job of chair will be in this new era, one without an obvious public face for the Democratic Party.

Could it be Ellison?

Contest’s roots in bitter Sanders-Clinton primary

The race for DNC chair has its origins in the 2016 Democratic primary, where simmering dissatisfaction over the performance of the last chair, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, came to a head.

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders believed Wasserman Schultz influenced the primary process to benefit Hillary Clinton. That belief was confirmed when hacked emails revealed Wasserman Schultz and DNC aides brainstorming ways to undermine Sanders, forcing her resignation on the eve of the party convention in July.

In the months between the convention and the election, Ellison began laying the groundwork for a campaign for DNC chair. A week after the GOP victory that sent Donald Trump to the White House and maintained Republican majorities in Congress, Ellison formally announced his candidacy.

Ellison, who was a prominent campaign surrogate for Sanders and then for Clinton, was considered an immediate front-runner, and that status was cemented as other high-profile Democrats, like former chair Howard Dean, declined to run.

Loyalists of Barack Obama, however, made no secret of their efforts to recruit another candidate to run. They found one in Tom Perez, Obama’s Secretary of Labor, who announced his bid about a month after Ellison did.

Ellison and Perez are undoubtedly the top two candidates. But there are other serious candidates: Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Jaime Harrison, the chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, are younger candidates who have been received positively by activists; Raymond Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic Party chair, and Jehmu Greene, a Democratic strategist, are running as well.

How the DNC vote works

In the past few months, Democrats have had to go to school on how their chair gets elected: the lack of a competitive race in recent history means the process hasn’t been deeply scrutinized in some time.

To win, a candidate needs 224 yes votes, a simple majority of the 447-member voting body of the DNC. On February 25 in Atlanta, they will vote as many times as needed until one candidate reaches that number, with the lowest-performing candidate dropped from each ballot.

The politics of getting to 224, though, are far more complicated. Though candidates have participated in several public forums and done plenty of national press, the race is really won in personal phone calls and in-person pitches to voting members of the DNC, who are scattered around the country — and the world, in some cases.

The process is described as akin to running a national campaign in which just 447 people can vote.

Rep. Keith Ellison
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Rep. Keith Ellison speaking during the Democratic National Committee forum on Saturday.

So, who gets a vote? Close to half of those who will cast a ballot are rank-and-file committee members, who are elected by Democratic Party organizations in the 50 states, D.C., and territories, with votes apportioned by population. California, for example, has 19 voting members in this category. (Minnesota has eight votes, total.)

The chair of each state party votes, along with the highest-ranking state party officer of the opposite sex, representing a bloc of 100 votes. Seventy-five “at-large” delegates, who were nominated by Wasserman Schultz and approved by members, are given votes.

Those three groups constitute the majority of DNC votes. But top Democratic leaders get votes as well: leaders of Democratic-affiliated groups such as College Democrats of America and the Federation of Democratic Women will vote, as will elected officials like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

These groups don’t behave like blocs, necessarily. Those involved think about the voter pool in terms of an individual voter’s geographic ties, affiliations with outside groups like organized labor, and personal political allegiances — all of which can play a role in deciding who they vote for.

No clear front-runner

At this point, the conventional wisdom is that neither Ellison nor Perez are close to the 224-vote threshold, and either could plausibly come out on top after the votes are cast. If there’s a deadlock between the two, it could open a door for a compromise candidate to win, perhaps Buttigieg, according to the New York Times. (Perez’s campaign claimed on Tuesday it had locked up 180 votes; Ellison’s campaign disputes that.)

But Ellison’s camp is confident that their early start has given them an edge, locking up some voters before Perez even entered the race. And Ellison has raised close to $1 million for his bid, which has been useful in gathering data and sending staffers to court delegates around the U.S. (Perez raised over $800,000 through the end of January.)

Former Minneapolis mayor and outgoing DNC vice chair R.T. Rybak just completed a swing through western states to rally support among delegates for Ellison.

“My perception is that Keith’s a little ahead,” Rybak told MinnPost, but added that there’s plenty of support for Perez as well as Buttigieg and Harrison. “I think anybody who says they know exactly where the race is is exactly wrong,” he said.

In the absence of polling or any concrete metrics, the endorsements that Ellison and Perez have collected give an idea of the temperature of the race and what kind of constituencies are backing them.

Both candidates have rolled out endorsements from hundreds of Democratic politicians on the federal, state, and local levels, along with labor unions, advocacy groups and party leaders.

Ellison has a trio of important backers in the U.S. Senate that give him progressive and establishment cred: Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren support him, along with Schumer, the current de facto Democratic leader.

He’s also notched endorsements from key unions like AFL-CIO, the unions for federal, state, and local government employees, and the American Federation of Teachers. Minnesota has rallied around Ellison, as he’s picked up endorsements from Gov. Mark Dayton, Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, and Vice President Walter Mondale.

Perez, meanwhile, has drawn substantial support from his former Obama administration colleagues. Vice President Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder, Perez’s onetime boss, endorsed him; he’s also backed by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a former DNC chair and a close Clinton ally.

Though he has strong labor ties, Perez has fewer endorsements from unions: his two key supporters are the United Farm Workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Clinton-Sanders round two?

Ellison and Perez’s respective endorsements reflect the most publicized, and juiciest, element of the DNC race: the widely-held belief that it’s a proxy fight between the Sanders-Warren wing of the party and the Clinton-Obama wing.

The public debate over the race has been dominated by ideology — namely, whether Ellison’s brand of unapologetic progressivism should be at the center of the Democratic Party, or whether it should be Obama-Clinton liberalism, represented by Perez.

Though Perez is considered a staunch progressive, and he has taken few opportunities to position himself as a moderate versus Ellison, a reason for his recruitment was Ellison’s status as a top figure of the party’s far left.

The next DNC head is expected to be the Democrats’ most prominent public face. As the party tries to rebuild support in rural America, Obama-aligned Democrats believed Ellison’s politics, along with his past as a radical with ties to the Nation of Islam, would sink that mission.

Former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez speaking during a Democratic National Committee forum on Saturday.

Supporters of Ellison counter that Democrats lost — and lost in rural and Rust Belt America in particular — because they abandoned economic populism for a data and demographics-driven approach.

They feel Obama and his allies are partly responsible for the mess the party’s in now: from 2008 to 2016, Democrats hemorrhaged over 1,000 federal and state offices, lost control of both chambers of Congress, and lost a presidential election to Donald Trump.

Critics say this could have been avoided if the Obama camp had leveraged its powerful grassroots network for something beyond the president’s own electoral success. This sentiment has led to skepticism of Perez’s own DNC bid, Politico reported last week.

According to Rybak, the wounds from the primary are healing but have still led to hard feelings here and there. Still, he says, “from my experience talking to [delegates], they’re less concerned with the national narrative around old rivalries from primaries and much more concerned with the tactical issues.”

“I am thrilled this has been a positive, uplifting campaign,” he added.

Making Democrats win again

Indeed, Ellison and Perez have taken pains to avoid going after each other, steering clear of past conflicts and ideology and framing the DNC race as a passionate debate among family.

In practice, the chair’s personal politics take a back seat at the DNC job, which is almost entirely focused on organizing, fundraising, and administration.

In that sense, there’s not a lot of daylight between Ellison and Perez. Both agree that the party has grown too D.C.-centric and overly focused on the top of the ticket. Both say that the heart of the party is the grassroots, which means increased authority must go to local Democratic officials, and less in the hands of Beltway central leadership.

Both talk often about reducing barriers to voting and increasing Democratic voter turnout, recruiting stronger candidates, and competing in every part of the country, even areas Democrats have long written off.

When asked what he’d do differently than Perez as chair, Ellison said that was “unknowable.”

“I have not done a side by side with his plan and mine, so I don’t know,” Ellison said. But with both candidates professing nearly the same goals, Ellison would prefer the contest to be a referendum on qualifications — something his camp sees as a clear advantage.

Ellison and his aides speak often of his get-out-the-vote program, which made the 5th District, Minnesota’s lowest-turnout district when Ellison took office, its highest-turnout district in later years. His camp credits it with providing the margins that kept Minnesota blue in 2016.

Perez, meanwhile, has held elected office once, as a member and then president of the council of Montgomery County, an affluent county across the D.C. border in Maryland. His highest-profile offices have been in the Obama administration as Labor Secretary and, before that, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Department of Justice.

Ellison’s pitch is clear: pick him, and Democrats will win again.

Perez and himself, Ellison said, are both trying to win elections for Democrats. “Only I’ve done it. I’ve won seats. The job of the DNC chair is to win seats for Democrats.”

If Ellison always campaigns like he’s ten points behind, a victory in this chair race means he will take the reins of a party that’s far more than ten points behind.

On his day one to-do list? Navigate an awful 2018 U.S. Senate map for Democrats, dramatically improve recruitment for U.S. House races, win redistricting battles in dozens of states, restore the party’s health on state, county, precinct levels.

Until then, MinnPost found Ellison and his team in their campaign war room on Capitol Hill, doing the work they must to do to win this race. As staffers pored over spreadsheets and prepared for trips to meet delegates — one was about to set off for Alaska — Ellison sat in a small office.

“This race is about, will the Democratic Party rededicate to working with, and fighting for, working Americans?” Ellison said, between phone calls.

“To me, what the Democratic Party has been about over the last eight years is relying on analytics and TV and going to swing states. We’re going to smash that model.”

Comments (36)

  1. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 02/15/2017 - 09:33 am.

    It’s not fair…

    To Ellison; but, the 2016 losses pointed out the need to convince rural, lower economic class voters that their interests are best represented by progressive Democratic party values: affordable healthcare, strengthening Social Security and Medicare, Main Street over Wall Street. These mostly poor, rural, white, less educated voters would see Ellison as a “bridge to far” to travel in transferring their political allegiance. It’s not right, but it is reality. Keeping Pelosi and promoting Ellison may make the long term loyalists happy; but, it is not going to give the boost needed to cause change.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/15/2017 - 10:56 am.


      But how important do you think it really is WHO is the chair of the DNC in terms of individual voter awareness? In other words, how many voters do you think have generally even known who the DNC chair is or factor that in as they go about their voting decisions?

      It strikes me as an office that is mostly invisible – that is, the effectiveness of the practices and the policies that are established is what will affect voters’ decisions – not so much who established them.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2017 - 11:11 am.


        The Republicans will make him a bogeyman.

        • Submitted by David Wintheiser on 02/15/2017 - 11:47 am.

          Not sure that will work for them…

          Republicans have tried making Ellison a bogeyman in the past, and it hasn’t ended well for the individuals involved.

          Start with the 2006 Fifth District Congressional election, where Republican Alan Fine was drawing plaudits during the primary for being a reasoned, seemingly balanced conservative when it seemed he might be running against establishment Democrats like Ember Reichgott Junge or Mike Erlandson. Once Ellison won the Democratic Primary, Fine’s campaign switched from balance to trying to convince the Fifth District that Ellison was a scary Muslim, and he tanked so hard that he barely outpolled Independence Party candidate Tammy Lee.

          Then after election, when Ellison announced he planned to take his oath of office on the Koran, there was a conservative outcry, with the leader proving to be South Carolina Republican Virgil Goode. Not only did Ellison outmaneuver his Republican critics by using Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Koran, he watched as Goode lost his 2008 bid for re-election to Democrat Tom Perriello, then was persuaded not to try a rematch against Perriello in 2010 and, perhaps because of that pressure, abandoned the Republican party to join the Constitution party in that same year. Goode was named as the Constitution party’s candidate for President in 2012, and has not held elective office since leaving the Republican party.

          I’m not trying to insinuate some kind of Clintonesque ‘don’t make enemies of Keith’ situation; I’m merely pointing out that while the GOP might be able to use Ellison as a fundraising gimmick, actually trying to demonize him is probably not going to work out well for them.

          • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2017 - 12:39 pm.


            Ellison got elected in a safe blue district, which had zero chance of electing a non-Democrat. And he did outplay that guy on the Koran swearing in. It’s just that this is a national job. He’s the face of the party, not an obscure rep.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2017 - 11:09 am.

      Exactly right

      Ellison is the candidate that is going to make the Democrats focus on the “economic anxiety’ of these voters. He is the best candidate for their actual interests. The problem is that the economic anxiety of these voters is increasingly manifested at the voting booth by supporting candidates who won’t help their economic interests, but instead appeal to easy (and wrong) answers and bigotry. These are the people cheering the Muslim ban.

      It absolutely isn’t fair that the problem isn’t what Ellison says or does, but who he is. And to working class white voters he is an African-American big-city Muslim. That’s probably not going to work.

      The same arguments (including calling him a Muslim) were made about Obama in 2008, and those were obviously wrong. Maybe they are wrong again and I’m not giving WWC voters enough credit. But after the election of a guy like Trump, I’m not too optimistic.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/15/2017 - 11:47 am.

        Popular vote

        But Clinton didn’t lose the popular vote. How much should the strategizing related to that factor in here?

        Clinton suffered badly from a huge enthusiasm gap. But her candidacy was pushed anyway by a party head who was absolutely obsessed with the idea that it was “Clinton’s turn”.

        If we don’t have a DNC chair who actively tries to sabotage the “unfavored” candidate, could we have a better chance of picking up previously disaffected voters without worrying about the possibility of needing to sell out our values just to win elections?

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2017 - 12:45 pm.


          If we are going to have a reasonable discussion about this, we have to dispense with the idea that the DNC detetmined the candidate. Clinton defeated Sanders by millions of votes, and it appeared closer than it was because Sanders benefitted from voter-suppressing caucuses.

          • Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/15/2017 - 02:10 pm.

            Election influence

            The DNC influenced the outcome of the primary. And the population of primary voters is not the exact same population as that which votes in the general election.

            Who knows how everything would have played out without Wasserman-Schultz’s meddling? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

            • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2017 - 02:57 pm.

              No, we do know

              Clinton’s win over Sanders was so decisive that nothing the DNC or Wassermann mattered. Sanders ran an extremely dishonest campaign blaming the DNC, but it did not effect the outcome. That is the delusion people need to get over.

              And yes, voters in the general are different from the primary. And while, unlike the primary, we can’t be certain what would have happened, it’s likely Sanders would have been completely annihilated in a general election once he and his policies underwent some scrutiny.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/17/2017 - 08:35 am.


                Sanders won 48% and 23 State primaries, hardly a “decisive” loss. Had it not been for machinations of the party elite and structural features built into the democratic primary process in order to suppress progressive challenges; Sander would probably have won the primary. And he would have gone on to the general election. As for dishonesty, that’s simply Clintonian cool-aid.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/15/2017 - 01:13 pm.


      “These mostly poor, rural, white, less educated voters would see Ellison as a “bridge to far”

      This is exactly the kind of reasoning that put Clinton instead of Sanders on the ballot, and put Trump in the White House. This particular democratic delusion that they “know” how other people will vote should have been demolished by the last election result.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2017 - 03:05 pm.


        How do you know that Sanders – who lost the primaries by millions of votes – wouldn’t have been crushed in the general? Looking at how poorly his candidates and referenda did, I think that’s a likely result. Throw in Sanders’s baggage and massive hypocrisy, and we get Mondale/McGovern-Esque results.

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/16/2017 - 02:57 pm.

          And why do you . . . .

          And why do you keep acting as if Sanders was the ONLY possible alternative to Clinton? There were other good possibilities as well, but the message was so clear “inside” the party that it was “Clinton’s turn” that most of them were unwilling to go against party leadership and take a run at it. Sanders was pretty much the only one who said “I don’t care” and ran anyway (and O’Malley never got a strong enough start to have been a threat).

    • Submitted by Aaron Albertson on 02/15/2017 - 08:37 pm.

      He’s also against the TPP

      For a lot of Trump voters I’ve talked to it was about job killing trade deals that did it on them for the Dems this round. Having our own version of populism might not be such a bad thing and having a guy like Keith might be a good thing

  2. Submitted by Greg Gaut on 02/15/2017 - 10:51 am.

    But Keith.Ellison ..

    will not be running in those rural races. As DNC chair, he will be recruiting young, local progressives who can connect with disaffected rural voters on exactly the issues Mr. Blaise lists. He will also remember, the way most DFLers don’t, that places like rural Minnesota are increasingly diverse, especially because of the the growing Latino population is southern and west central counties (e.g 1 in 4 residents of Nobles and Watonwan counties is Latino).

  3. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 02/15/2017 - 11:04 am.

    Thanks for a good laugh.

    “…Obama and his allies are PARTLY responsible for the mess…” (my emphasis added)

    Yes, theoretically, Obama and his hangers-on could have been worse for the Democrats.

    They could have, for example, spread a plague that infected and laid waste only to Democratic officeholders. Or they could (along with Clinton) have installed an army of neo-liberals and sycophants in the DNC to assure the same tired old phrases will drone on and the same tired old people will call the shots while feathering their own nests.

    Actually, now that I think about it, it seems these speculations are not conjecture, but accomplished facts.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2017 - 11:18 am.


      Ah, the fantasy that if the Democrats had run leftist candidates they would have been more successful. That America is a nation of secret progressives just waiting for the right candidates.

      By the way, how did that single-payer referendum do in Colorado? I’ll save you the Google search – it got destroyed 80 percent to 20 percent.

      • Submitted by David Wintheiser on 02/15/2017 - 12:00 pm.

        Not really the best example

        Colorado Amendment 69 was a citizen-sponsored amendment initiative to create a statewide health insurance system funded by taxes, but many of the details were unknown as the system doesn’t actually exist — this was not an attempt to create something akin to MinnesotaCare, but a wholly new system. Opponents jumped on this uncertainty in the details to sway public opinion firmly against the amendment.

        Meanwhile, Amendment 70, increasing Colorado’s state-mandated minimum wage to $12 per hour, passed by a slightly better than 10% margin, attempts to repeal the previously enacted legal sale of cannabis were soundly defeated (one for Pueblo County, failed 57%-42%, while another for the city of Pueblo failed by an even larger margin), and a ballot initiative to create designated public marijuana smoking areas passed 53%-47%.

        There is definitely support for progressive ‘leftist’ policies, in Colorado, Minnesota, and all of the U.S. It’s just that Colorado Amendment 69 shows these policies need to be less promises and more polished programs. Get the details right, and the American people will support it.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2017 - 12:55 pm.


          There are plenty of examples of Sanders-backed initiatives and candidates doing poorly and running behind the “neoliberals.” I used this as an example because single-payer is one of the centerpieces of Sanders’s message.

          The problem in Colorado wasn’t the details. The problem is that enacting single-payer is going to require a huge tax increase. Now, it will be offset by the savings of direct payments to health insurers. But American voters are never going to go for turning over control of a bigger chunk of their money to the government Vermont tried single-payer and had to abandon it because it failed for the same reason.

          People are kidding themselves if they just think better packaging will get a progressive agenda enacted. This is a conservative country.

          • Submitted by Bert Sheal on 02/15/2017 - 04:50 pm.

            How is the cheaper system going to cost more?

            “The problem is that enacting single-payer is going to require a huge tax increase.”

            And no mention at all of the many thousands of dollars a year in premiums that everyone pays? I doubt very much that any tax increase will be bigger than my insurance premiums which jumped by around 40% this year. And that doesn’t even account for the many more thousands I’d have to spend on top of that if I were ever really in need of serious health care. It’s almost like you’re unaware that the US pays far more in health care costs for worse outcomes than every other industrialized country that has socialized medicine. If the system that doesn’t have profiteering middle men is far cheaper how is it going to cost more to the end user? The system that exists is nothing more than corporate welfare and yet you somehow seem to think it’s going to be more expensive when the greedy corporate entities that want to charge us more for the same products than they charge in countries with socialized medicine are removed from the equation.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/15/2017 - 05:03 pm.


            Clinton is a moderate republican “packaged” as a liberal. Liberals and progressive are not concerned with packaging and understand that Donald Trump is our president because Clinton lost.

            We’re not talking about packaging, we’re talking about making the democratic party a liberal party again. We’re talking about actually promoting progressive liberal agenda’s and initiatives.

            And here’s the thing: If you don’t believe in liberal initiatives, or even if you just don’t think liberal initiatives are achievable, then you’re not a liberal, even if you vote for democrats. Now you had your chance, you took the reigns of the democratic party, turned it into a moderate republican party that suppressed liberal and progressive candidates and initiatives… and we ended up with Donald Trump as our president. Not only that but you lost Congressional seats, State Houses, and State Legislatures all over the country. You made the republican the strongest party in the United States in the year 2017.

            All I’m saying is democrats need to their heads around whether or not they’re a liberal party. My advice is if you want to stop losing elections you better get liberal because apparently, when American voters are given a change between real republicans and wannabe republicans, they vote for the real thing.

            • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 02/19/2017 - 12:14 pm.

              You are not talking about Hillary Clinton

              when you call her “a moderate Republican “packaged” as a liberal.”
              You must have forgotten her work for women and children in her early years, as well as her achievements as a Senator from New York and Secretary of State. (I disagree with her and Obama’s support for the militarization of our country, but that is a basic issue of our having become “the most important, only indispensable country in the world”. We do need to change that basic problem.)
              Obama and Clinton both did great progressive work on the domestic plane: a major step toward universal health care, marriage equality, gays in the military openly, support for minority people killed by police and work toward changing that, really listening to and including Native people in their policies, support for women’s issues in actually understanding, and saying, that domestic abuse and rape are crimes, the Fair Pay Act and support for equal pay; the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; making education loans less expensive, and more.
              What is missing in almost all these stories and comments about Hillary Clinton, the election, and what the Democratic Party needs to do now is this:

              It’s one of our national disgraces that we’ve never yet had a woman president. It’s another national disgrace that donald trump treated her so disgracefully during the campaign, the press and the rest of us let him get away with it, and he was elected!
              One of the messages of the 2016 Presidential campaign and election: Better a completely unqualified white man with rotten morals and ethics than “the most qualified Presidential candidate ever” if she’s a woman.

              Trump won because the Russians helped him, because enough of the voters were taken in by his bullying and/or are racists, anti-woman, anti-poor and anti-immigrant.
              You are supporting their view of things when you claim that her loss was her fault. And, how many times do we have to repeat: she won the popular vote by 2.8 million.
              Keith Ellison would be an excellent head of the DNC. I hope he wins. He and the DNC will have the solid foundation of Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s work as one of their assets going forward.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/20/2017 - 11:19 am.

                Yes, I’m talking about Hillary

                You can only brag about your work with the Children’s Defense Fund for two decades, then people want to know what you’ve done lately and in her early college years she was actually a republican.

                Every major initiative Clinton supported from her health care plan, to the Iraq War, has been a republican initiative. The “Reinventing Government” campaign that was the largest privatization of federal agencies in US history was a republican initiative. Workfare, financial deregulation, Law and Order militarization of law enforcement, DOMA and Don’t As Don’t Tell… all republican initiatives, all supported by HRC.

                Hillary has never been an unconditional supporter of abortion rights, saying as recently as 2015 that she’d consider even more restrictions on abortions under certain circumstances. Prior to that she always maintained that she herself didn’t believe in abortion but supported the right to choose. Her position on GLBT rights was always likewise conditionally moderate until very recently.

                Then we have her support for the Iraq War, she didn’t vote for it because she “believed” Bush, she voted for it because she thought is was a good idea regardless, she believed in US led regime change, and still does.

                Then we have this campaign wherein she initially ruled that basic liberal initiatives like living wages, universal health care, free child care, free state university education, massive infrastructure improvements, and more equitable wealth distribution are ALL “unrealistic”. Listen, it doesn’t matter, whether you don’t believe in basic liberal initiatives, or you just don’t believe that liberal initiatives are realistic… if you don’t believe liberalism is realistic one way or the other… you’re not a liberal.

                After initially dismissing such agenda’s a unrealistic Clinton tried to back peddle and offer her own plans and yet again predictably, her “plans” were to turn the problem over to Wall Street financiers who would solve the problem by “leveraging” taxpayer money into profits we could use to pay for tuition and infrastructure. THAT’S is NOT a liberal plan.

                History is very clear on this. In mid 80s “New Democrats” like the Clinton’s emerged who argued that all the really big problems had been solved and all that was needed from then on was incremental adjustments or “tweaks” in public policy. They argued that traditional “liberalism” was obsolete, unnecessary, unrealistic, and no longer attractive to voters. They argued that “triangulating” or moving the democratic party closer to a conservative mentality and agenda was the only way democrats could win elections, and remain a relevant party. Progressives coined the term: “Neo-Liberalism” to describe this movement and democrats like the Clinton’s created the Democratic Leadership Council to promote their neo-liberal agenda… they then succeeded in taking control of the party. This is documented history. This is and has always been who Hillary Clinton is.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/20/2017 - 05:48 pm.

                The Russians?

                The Russian’s didn’t hand Trump the election. The Russian’s don’t have the clout to take a US election away from a strong and popular candidate and hand it to a train wreck who’s own party is denouncing him half the time. Trump did just about everything a candidate could do to lose an election, it wasn’t the Russians who kept Trump’s head above water. The problem was that Clinton was a weak and unpopular candidate.

                To the extent that the Russian Hacking did hurt Clinton, that damage was only possible because an e-mail controversy everyone had known about for a year was still dogging Clinton despite the fact that democrats assured us all that it wouldn’t be an issue. We were assured repeatedly every time we tried to warn democrats about Clinton’s many and serious vulnerabilities that she was so tough she could handle anything Trump or anyone else threw at her.

  4. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 02/15/2017 - 12:49 pm.

    Ellison needs to remain where he is

    From my limited experience in party politics in Minnesota, it’s too early to count anyone out at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised at one of the lesser known candidates being elected as a compromise.

    I heard Tom Perez speak on a CNN interview and he truck me as being extremely well qualified and progressively credentialed to lead the DNC in the progressive direction it needs to go. The DNC Chair position has been a somewhat invisible office at least to the non-political junky parts of the electorate. Ellison could change that for good or for bad. I hear from friends of mine-stalwart liberals- who are concerned about what an Ellison leadership will do to the party in the South which seems to be already largely divided along party and racial lines. Keith Ellison is an able leader in the House. He should remain there to lead progressives in the future battles especially those when the Party regains control of the House.

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/15/2017 - 01:19 pm.

    The Clinton’s lost, and lost big.

    As someone already pointed out Ellison himself doesn’t need rural votes, he’s the chair not the party candidate. All of this hand wringing by pseudo-liberal democrats who don’t think liberal agendas, candidates, and policies can win elections are simply pointing the party towards further collapse. If this is a proxy fight between Sanders and Clinton Sanders better win because we Clinton a losing proposition.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2017 - 03:14 pm.


      Sanders would have lost even more bigly, just like his candidates and referenda did.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/15/2017 - 04:07 pm.

        Sanders’s would have won.

        Trump didn’t win because he was unstoppable candidate, he won because Clinton was such a weak candidate. Trump was beatable, but no candidate that stepped into the ring with with a majority of voters saying they didn’t like or trust her was going to win. Throw in the Iraq War vote, support for neo-liberal (i.e. republican) policies, and the long history of controversies that tend to stick to Clinton like glue and you have a the only candidate that could have lost to Trump. And we haven’t talked about the awful campaign itself which never even managed to produce a clear and compelling campaign message and virtually surrendered all media coverage to Trump.

        Clinton spent years laying the ground work for her campaign and right out of the gate all she could manage against an virtual unknown who’d just recently decided to run was a tie in Iowa. That should have been the first clue right there.

        Sure, she won the primary, but those that fail to learn their lessons are doomed to repeat their failures. Those who didn’t see Trump’s victory coming, and still can’t recognize the weaknesses of Clinton, are no well of wisdom or judgement regarding electable candidates.

        This experiment with a democratic party as a moderate republican party has run it course and needs to be ended now. So long as the party suppresses liberal candidates and initiatives they will keep losing. Put another Clintonian in the lead and you’re toast.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/15/2017 - 01:26 pm.

    I just have to say…

    What’s up with this writing?

    “Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders believed Wasserman Schultz influenced the primary process to benefit Hillary Clinton, and hacked emails revealed Wasserman Schultz and DNC aides brainstorming ways to undermine Sanders, forcing her resignation on the eve of the party convention in July.”

    Sanders supporters didn’t “believe” Wasserman Shultz … they knew she did… because she did. So what is this? Why doesn’t the paragraph read:

    Hacked emails revealed that Wasserman Shultz… or: Hacked emails confirmed Sanders’s suspicions… etc.? It’s not a question of anyone’s “beliefs”, she did it, its a fact, it’s confirmed.

    Are we still pretending that the democratic elite wasn’t trying to suppress Sanders’s campaign? If so, why?

    • Submitted by Sam Brodey on 02/15/2017 - 03:06 pm.

      That’s a good point — the language should be clearer. The story has been updated. 

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2017 - 03:13 pm.


      Because primary voters so overwhelmingly rejected Sanders in the primaries nothing DNC did or could have done made any difference?

      Because no one should be shocked that long-time party officials preferred a Democrat who had helped raise money and campaign for hundreds of Democrats over a non-Democrat who did very little?

      What influence did she have on the primary? The debate schedule? Clinton crushed Sanders in every debate I saw. Open primaries? Nothing to do with DNC. In fact, Sanders benefitted far more from voter-suppressing caucuses. Yes, the DNC people preferred Clinton. So what?

  7. Submitted by Britter Ritter on 02/15/2017 - 02:41 pm.


    Ellison will simply continue to be an embarassment for the Democrats, only on a national level, and cost votes. He’s not worth it. And he should not be in influential positions with his views. I doubt he’ll make it.

  8. Submitted by Lawrence Baker on 02/15/2017 - 03:07 pm.


    Whoever leads, I think he/she needs to do more than raise cash and get out the vote. The entire platform needs to be reframed, and the process must (1) involve a broad swath of the Democratic Party (from the ground up, not the top down), and (2) start with a nearly blank slate (no one gets to start with an immutable position); and (3) involve critical thinking as ideas rise to the surface and coalesce.

    Ellison would be a great cheerleader, but I don’t get the sense that he could lead this effort (above). Al Franken probably could. Michell Obama could, but I doubt if she would. Robert Reich certainly could.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/15/2017 - 04:28 pm.

    One big mistake.

    According to the article both Perez and Ellison think getting out the democratic vote is a priority. Depending on what they mean by that it could be huge tactical and strategic blunder.

    If you mean turning out votes for democratic candidates, then yes, obviously you win with the most votes. But if you’re simply talking about getting democrats to the polls you’re going to lose elections. The biggest bloc of voters in the country right now is independents. Neither the democrats or the republicans can win elections without independent votes.

    This was one of the huge problems with Clinton that so many of us tried to warn the democrats about. The ONLY people who were actually enthusiastic about voting for Clinton were democrats and that spelled defeat because there aren’t enough of them to put someone in the White House. Sanders proved over and over that independents tended to break for him, in fact he drew independents from Trump. So it’s not about turning out democrats it’s about bringing more independent votes to democratic candidates, something Clinton utterly failed to do.

    Democrats have been losing numbers for years and their attempts to attract republican voters have clearly failed. The only way democrats can replenish their own ranks or get independent votes is to run liberal, and run hard liberal. If they pick another Clintonian to run the party they’re just digging their hole deeper.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/16/2017 - 11:33 am.

    By the way…

    Who considers Perez a “Strong” progressive? If in fact Perez represents the Clintionian “liberalism” of the current democratic party elite, he most certainly is NOT progressive. The fact that labor unions by and large are breaking for Ellison instead of the former Labor Secretary is probably a reflection of the neo-liberal leadership he provided. For instance as Labor Secretary did Perez support a national living wage or did he push back and table it the way Clinton tended to?

    It’s extremely important to note that this is NOT a question of which progressive will lead the party, it’s a question of whether or not moderate republicans i.e. neo-liberals will continue to lead the party.

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