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DNC Chair Fight Sinks To Name-Calling

Famed Minnesota radio host Garrison Keillor had harsh words for DNC chair candidate Keith Ellison…

Ellison 9-11 Comments

Almost a week after Minnesota Public Radio’s Garrison Keillor called Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) “a lackluster black Muslim congressman,” the alternative weekly paper in Minneapolis-St. Paul is firing back.

For context, Keillor penned an op-ed in the Washington Post last week that criticized Democrats’ knee-jerk reaction to double down on far-left policies that further estrange the Midwestern working class voters they lost to Trump in 2016. That includes reinstalling Rep. Nancy Pelosi as the Democrat’s leader in the House and potentially electing Ellison DNC Chair:

Meanwhile, the Democrats wander in the woods, walking into trees. A wealthy San Francisco liberal is reelected as minority leader in the House, having flung millions into the wind and gotten skunked in 2014 and drubbed this fall, and a lackluster black Muslim congressman from Minneapolis is a leading candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee, the person who will need to connect with disaffected workers in Youngstown and Pittsburgh. Why not a ballet dancer or a Buddhist monk?

Susan Du of City Pages, the alternative weekly newspaper in the Twin Cities, thinks said dancer or monk would be ideal messengers in Youngstown and Pittsburgh:

Why not indeed? As long as that hypothetical ballet-dancing monk isn’t a Wall Street puppet, a job-outsourcing trust fund-made billionaire, or anything else that old-school Rust Belt Democrats should actually be concerned about?

This public squabble is the latest proxy fight in the larger battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. As noted in The Hill today, the DNC chair fight is in some ways a relitigation of the Clinton vs. Sanders battle from the Democratic presidential primary:

The early front-runner, Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.), supported Sanders during the primary and has made clear that he thinks a shift to the left is in order — in part to offer the clearest possible contrast to the GOP.

“Democrats win when we harness the power of everyday people and fight for the issues they care about,” Ellison said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “It is not enough for Democrats to ask for voters’ support every two years. We must be with them through every lost paycheck, every tuition hike, and every time they are the victim of a hate crime. When voters know what Democrats stand for, we can improve the lives of all Americans.”

The other two candidates who remain in the race, South Carolina party chairman Jaime Harrison and New Hampshire chairman Ray Buckley have their own ideas. Harrison told the Charleston Post & Courier, “We need to go back to where the party used to be, which is not a political organization but a community organization” that would “talk about bread and butter issues.”

Meanwhile, the 2016 election results provide little in terms of guidance for a party at drift, according to Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. “Everybody can point to something that went wrong — and they’re right,” he said. “It makes it impossible to know what the party really needs to do.”