Ellison Seeks Chairmanship of Progressive Caucus

Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:46am

With Rep. Lynn Woolsey stepping aside from leadership in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, another Representative is stepping forward for the spot.

Sophomore Rep. Keith Ellison is circulating a letter asking fellow members of the CPC to support his bid to serve as the group’s chairman in the 112th Congress.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter released Wednesday and obtained by Roll Call, the Minnesota Democrat pledged to “work to strengthen [the CPC’s] internal cohesion and discipline as a voting bloc within the Congress.”

“Moving forward, I believe that the CPC can, and must, be the driving force behind a core set of principles and policies aimed at securing immediate and long term prosperity for America’s working families,” Ellison wrote. “If elected chair, I would work to utilize the vast talents of our membership, particularly by expanding CPC communication and policy efforts.”

Ellison added that the CPC, which has strengthened its ties with grass-roots organizations, must “more actively engage the broader progressive community outside the halls of Congress.

“The true power of a progressive agenda rests with the broad grassroots support across the country for progressive policies that lift working Americans up and rebuild our nation for long-term sustainability,” he wrote.

Ellison is the second lawmaker to express an interest in leading the group in the next Congress. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who has co-chaired the CPC for nearly two years with Woolsey (D-Calif.), has said he will seek another term.

Woolsey said Wednesday that she would not seek a fourth term as head of the CPC. She has said she thinks the group would function better with a single chair, but Grijalva recently indicated that he thinks the two-chair system has worked well. Ellison’s letter does not address the topic.

Grijalva, meanwhile, is locked in a tougher-than-expected re-election race against Republican Ruth McClung in Arizona’s 7th district, which is normally a safe Democratic district.