One of the arguments building against Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) as the new Democratic National Committee chair is that as a sitting member of Congress he wouldn’t dedicate his full attention to the DNC. But Ellison is willing to resign if he becomes the new chair.
At a forum in Denver, Colorado Friday afternoon, Ellison explained that he’s heard the concerns from DNC members and he understands them.
“I’ve talked with a lot of you and it’s become very apparent that many of you feel firmly about this,” Ellison said.
“Though I love being in Congress – it allows me to serve my neighbors – I think it’s more important to build and strengthen the DNC and the Democratic Party,” he continued. “And so the election is Feb. 24. There’s still many I have to talk to. I’m hoping you’ll keep your minds open as we continue to talk.”
Ellison did say that he is looking for a way to be able to do both jobs adequately, however.
“I’m in the process of deciding this issue and whether I can perform both roles. But will it be my top priority? Absolutely,” he said about the DNC gig.
One of the many complaints against former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was that she not only had another full-time job, she could use the opportunity to help fellow members of Congress. Another conflict of interest arose when Schultz faced a primary opponent this year. The Democratic Party is to remain neutral in primaries, but it causes a problem when the chair of the party is challenged in a primary.
Former DNC chair Howard Dean dropped out of the running for chair on Friday afternoon.
Ellison has been in the House since 2007 and is a co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. He’s already earned the endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders.