U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison falls short in DNC chair bid

He has been named deputy chair but will remain in Congress

Although U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison lost his quest to become chair of the Democratic National Convention, he called Americans winners based on the selection of former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez for the job.

“The American people have won today,” said Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, after the Feb. 25 vote in Atlanta. “The Democratic Party finally has a leader – a leader who has demonstrated time and again that he has what it takes to fight for all Americans. That leader is my good friend, Tom Perez.”

Keith Ellison
Keith Ellison

Perez won election after a second ballot cast by the 447 DNC members who had the right to vote in the election. Although no one received more than half of all the votes cast on the first ballot – the necessary amount needed to win – Perez received 235 votes on the second ballot while Ellison received 200 votes.

Ellison had previously said he would step down from representing Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District if he had won the DNC chair election – a move that would have led to a special election for his seat in Congress.

Although Perez named him to the newly created position of deputy chair of the DNC, Ellison indicated he intends to keep his job in Congress.

“I look forward to returning to Congress and continuing to represent the 5th Congressional district of Minnesota,” Ellison said in a statement released on his campaign website, keithfordnc.org. “And I look forward to helping the Democratic Party in any way that I can. I urge all to do the same. Working people across this country are depending on us.”

He encouraged Democrats who supported him to back Perez.

“I’m immensely proud of everything that our campaign accomplished, of how hard my staff, volunteers, and delegates fought,” Ellison said. “And now, I ask all those who love our country and believed in our vision to support Tom.

“With Trump in the White House, at stake is the very essence of our democracy, and I want us to be able to look back at this moment and tell ourselves that we did the right thing and helped Tom succeed.”

Ellison alluded to strife in the country in the statement.

“We must be united – because we live in times when the judiciary is under attack, when the press is under attack, and hate groups are desecrating Jewish cemeteries and defacing mosques,” Ellison said.

Referring to a shooting in the Kansas City suburb of Olathe, Kansas, that left one man dead, Ellison added, “Two Indian men were even shot down for looking ‘foreign’ in the eyes of the terrorist who shot them.”

Concerns have reached his own district. The Sabes Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park received a bomb threat Jan. 18. People in the center were evacuated while police searched the center. Police did not find anything of concern. A similar situation took place Feb. 20 at the St. Paul Jewish Community Center.

The 5th Congressional District includes all or parts of Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center, Columbia Heights, Crystal, Edina, Fort Snelling, Fridley, Golden Valley, Hilltop, Hopkins, New Brighton, New Hope, Richfield, Robbinsdale, St. Anthony Village, St. Louis Park and Spring Lake Park.

Contact Seth Rowe at [email protected]