Politics

Ellison Gets Unlikely Boost From Trump in DNC Chairman Race

President touts Minnesota Democrat as soothsayer

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison could become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison picked up a semi-endorsement from an expected — and potentially unwelcome — source Wednesday morning in his bid to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee: Donald Trump.

With DNC members set to vote on a new leader in just three days, the Republican president, apparently while watching morning cable news talk shows, felt the need to weigh in. He did so in a tweet pointing out that Ellison predicted Trump would become the 45th chief executive.

In fact, Trump seemed to suggest the Minnesota Democrat is something of a political soothsayer, tweeting that “he was the one who predicted early that I would win!”

Trump’s tweet came shortly after former DNC Chairman Howard Dean endorsed an Ellison opponent, Pete Buttigieg, the 35-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Besides Buttigieg, Ellison also faces former Labor Secretary Tom Perez; Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party; Sally Boynton Brown, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party; and Jehmu Greene, former president of Rock the Vote and a political analyst, in the DNC chairmanship race.

Ellison, thus far, has racked up the most congressional endorsements. But that doesn’t mean he will win the job on Saturday. That’s because his lawmaker colleagues won’t be casting votes. The winner will be decided by a majority of DNC members. Multiple ballots could be needed for Ellison or another candidate to secure the 224 (of 447) votes needed to win.

It is doubtful that the president’s kind words will boost Ellison’s bid. After all, Trump is deeply unpopular with Democrats: An Economist/YouGov poll conducted Feb. 12-14 found 67 percent of members of the party “strongly disapprove” of his job performance, and another 12 percent “somewhat disapprove.”

[McMaster Needs Senate Confirmation to Keep All Three Stars]

The poll also found that 76 percent of Democrats surveyed simply dislike the president. Sixty-nine percent said they think Trump doesn’t care “at all” about people like them, with another 12 percent of Democrats saying he cares “not much” about them.

(The poll surveyed 1,500 people in web-based interviews, and had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. The Economist Group is the parent company of CQ Roll Call.)

This is the first time since 2005 that there has been an open race for the DNC chairmanship. A Democratic president typically chooses the committee boss, but with Obama’s departure and Hillary Clinton’s surprising general election defeat last year, the party is without a true leader to anoint a hand-picked leader.

Simone Pathé contributed to this report.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.