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Ellison: DNC Job ‘More Important’ Than Serving Constituents

“All there is to do is to vote ‘no,’” said Ellison, explaining how he plans to handle his day job

Keith Ellison DNC

One of the leading candidates to lead the DNC, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), told a gathering of DNC members in Denver that he views the job of party chairman as “more important” than serving in Congress.

“Though I love being in Congress – it allows me to serve my neighbors – I think it’s more important to build and strengthen the DNC and the Democratic Party,” Ellison reportedly said.

It’s the first admission from Ellison, who launched his bid for DNC chairman in November, that he may step down from his job as a representative. Ellison was elected to his sixth term as a congressman last month.

The need for a full-time DNC chairman has been a hot topic among Democrats, who largely view the term of previous chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), as one marked by scandal and failure. Former DNC Chair and Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT) made that issue the heart of his candidacy but ended his bid Friday in a video to DNC members.

Dean’s departure from the race hasn’t quieted those discussions, however. Fellow candidate and South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison needled Ellison over his public chin scratching over retiring from Congress:

After Mr. Ellison pointed out that other elected officials, most recently Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, had held the post while serving in office, Mr. Harrison responded with barely veiled mockery.

“‘Debbie did it,’” Mr. Harrison said to scattered laughs and groans. “I’ll leave that up to you guys to make that determination.”

“No, she didn’t!” Bob Mulholland, a California committee member, shouted from the back of the room.

Ellison’s argument for staying in Congress seems to be that life in the minority – Republicans will control the House, Senate, and White House in 2017 – will not be that time consuming.

“All there is to do is to vote ‘no,’” he said. He vowed to spend “every other moment” working for the party.