Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) were elected Wednesday evening as co-chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the next Congress.
Grijalva will return for a second term as co-chairman, with Ellison succeeding Co-Chairwoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), who opted not to seek another term. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) lost in the three-way race to lead the progressive caucus, which will represent a far greater percentage of the House Democratic Caucus next year. Many of the House Democrats’ 63 losses in the midterm elections came from their moderate ranks.
“We’ve worked in the past before,” Grijalva said of Ellison. “He did a great job of messaging for us. He is charismatic. He brings a lot of capacities with outside organizations to it, and I think it’s going to work out well.”
Grijalva said he and Ellison, who serves as one of the group’s seven vice chairmen, would “share responsibilities” and “define roles.” He reiterated his pledge that the progressive caucus would dig in its heels on issues it deems the most important.
“We’re the majority of the Democratic Caucus, and I think we have an obligation to hold the line where we need to,” he said. “But I think we need to be very strategic and very smart and pick our battles, pick our fights, and pick fights we can win.”
Ellison said earlier this week that he would be “working hard to pass the progressive agenda” next year, no matter what the outcome of Wednesday night’s elections.
“I feel good about the prospects for the progressive movement,” he said. “So it’s really not about me or any personality. It’s about carrying forward the agenda that’s going to help Americans — low-income ones, too.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.