Ellison has called for the Democratic Party to devote itself to becoming the party of the working class. His steadfast commitment to racial justice proves that progressive leadership need not trap itself in the false dichotomy of standing up for working people or fighting race and gender oppression. How could the Left ever do one without doing the other?
Perez may have his strengths, but if progressives have a reason to rally to Ellison it may be to pointedly clap back at the West Wing’s clear unease with him. The Obama camp is in no position to hector Democrats about their future plans. Many of the bigwigs in Obama’s historic campaigns who went on to work at the White House have now become hired guns for such progressive causes as the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom (Jim Messina), Uber (David Plouffe) and McDonald’s (Robert Gibbs). In the Twitter patois of the President-elect: Not Good! Sad!
From 2008 until 2016, Jaime Harrison was a lobbyist for a powerful lobbying firm called the Podesta Group. The former whip for the House Democratic Caucus, Harrison relied on his Capitol Hill contacts to help clients like Lockheed Martin and Walmart press their cases to the federal government.
Now Harrison is running for chair of the Democratic National Committee in a bid to lead the party through the Trump era. He believes the party needs to embrace corporate lobbyists rather than vilifying them, as many Democratic politicians do.
According to Politico, some of Perez’s support comes from Democrats wary of the controversy and concerned Ellison is too connected to identity politics. But Ellison dismissed the contentious theory that identity politics is costing Democrats voters.
“The idea that somehow we’ve got to go talk to the white working class or we can talk to people of color is a ridiculous notion that must be rejected,” Ellison said. Instead, he said Democratic issues like social security and better wages have universal appeal.
In a new video interview with The Huffington Post, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) pledged to ban contributions from lobbyists to the Democratic Party if he’s elected as its next chairman.
“Yeah, I would,” Ellison told HuffPost when asked about banning lobbyist donations. “I think it’s important that people feel that the party is their party … There is a pragmatic, perhaps too pragmatic step that you can say, ‘We’ll just take whatever money from whatever source in whatever amount.’ But once you do that, I think you cross a line where people do not feel that the party is really theirs.”
President Barack Obama banned lobbyist contributions to the Democratic National Committee after winning the 2008 election, but the then DNC Chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) quietly lifted the ban during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run. In a December interview with HuffPost, Ellison’s chief rival for Wasserman Schultz’s successor, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, refused to rule out lobbyist donations.