Ellison Says He’ll Give Up Seat if Elected DNC Chair

The Democratic National Committee will elect new chairman in February

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., reportedly told a private meeting of union leaders that he would give up his seat to run the Democratic National Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., reportedly told a private meeting of union leaders that he would give up his seat to run the Democratic National Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted December 7, 2016 at 8:51am

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison upped his bid for the Democratic National Committee Chairman job last month, promising union leaders he would step down from his congressional seat to focus on the party if elected.

Ellison made the concession during a private meeting with the AFL-CIO, a national federation of labor organizations, according to The Washington Times. 

Following the report, Ellison released a statement Wednesday morning confirming his intentions. 

“In order to further their commitment and maximize my effectiveness, I have decided to resign as a member of Congress if I win the election for DNC chair,” Ellison wrote. “Whoever wins the DNC chair race faces a lot of work, travel, planning and resource raising. I will be ‘all-in’ to meet the challenge.”

Ellison went on to address concerns of a shrinking DNC electorate, arguing Democrats “must be the party that delivers for working people,” indeed, “For me, that means a chair with only one full time commitment.”

Previous DNC chairs like Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Sen. Tim Kaine held on to their seats while running the committee, but Democrats have expressed interest in electing someone focused wholly on party building this time around.

Wasserman Schultz came under fire this summer for apparent conflicts of interest, which ultimately resulted in her resignation.

Ellison has previously said he would be able to juggle the two roles should he be elected chairman, but his support has faltered after controversial comments he made in the past resurfaced. 

In addition to comparing President George W. Bush to Hitler and disparaging his political opponents, Ellison questioned U.S. foreign policy in regards to the country’s unwavering support for Israel.

“The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of seven million people,” Ellison said during a speech in 2010. “A region of 350 million all turns on a country of seven million. Does that make sense?”

The Minnesota congressman was the first Muslim elected to serve in Congress and has been praised by fellow Democrats for his progressive agenda. 

Ellison picked up endorsements from high-ranking Democratic Sens. Charles E. SchumerElizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders

He faces New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley and South Carolina Democratic Chairman Jaime Harrison in the February election.