DNC chairperson vote to act as ‘proxy war’ for party’s future
The vote to determine the next chairperson of the Democratic National Committee is slated to be held this weekend in Atlanta, and a nasty election process looms on the horizon for a party that has been thrown into flux since the election of President Donald Trump.
The race for chair of the DNC has been framed by some as a “proxy war” between the candidates who closely identified with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), one of Sanders’ most prominent supporters during last year’s primary race, and Thomas Perez, the former labor secretary who was considered as a potential running mate for Clinton, have emerged as the frontrunners for the position. However, neither candidate has pulled away toward collecting the majority of the 447 committee members who will decide on the new chairperson.
This indecision and division comes as the party attempts to regather itself in the aftermath of President Trump’s election, and to decide how best to take on his administration. Supporters are divided between the progressive example of Sanders, which briefly energized a youthful contingent of the party, and that of long-time party leaders such as the Clintons and former President Barack Obama.
Perez is favored among the party’s establishment, having earned the support from a number of governors, high-profile donors and fervent supporters of Obama. However, a growing discontent with “establishment politics” has lead many to question Perez’s credentials.
“It says a lot about how much Sanders has skewed how Democrats think when the Latino labor activist from Takoma Park is considered the centrist,” said Kenneth Baer, an author and a former Obama administration official, to the New York Times.
Ellison, on the other hand, has been the subject of scrutiny for comments that have been perceived as anti-Semitic. In 1989 and 1990, Ellison wrote newspaper columns in support of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Ellison, a convert to Islam, wrote that Farrakhan was not an anti-Semite, in spite of the fact that Farrakhan has a history of anti-Semitic remarks and has been deemed an anti-Semite by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2006, Ellison denounced Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. However, in 2007, Ellison compared then-President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler, which earned a sharp rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League, which deemed his remarks “odious.”