Keith Ellison Racks Up Major Endorsements In Final Week Before DNC Vote

Darien Cavanaugh

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a favorite among progressive Democrats, has racked up several major endorsements in the final days heading into the Democratic National Committee's vote to name a new chair next week.

Ellison had already been endorsed by progressive stalwarts Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as well as several major labor unions.

Now one of Ellison's former rivals in the race to become the new DNC chair has dropped out and endorsed him.

"From the moment I stepped into this race, I made it clear that the top two priorities of the next DNC chair must be to strengthen state parties and reform the DNC," New Hampshire Democratic State Party Chair Ray Buckley said in a press statement announcing his endorsement of Ellison. "Now, many candidates have spoken about these issues, but Keith's commitment to the states and a transparent and accountable DNC has stood out. He knows elections are not won and lost in the beltway, but on the ground across the country."

Ellison, in turn, heaped praise on Buckley and all of the work he has done for the Democratic Party in New Hampshire.

"There is no better example of a strong state party than the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and we have Ray Buckley to thank for that," Ellison said, according to the press release. "Democrats in the Granite State have an incredible track record, winning 11 out of the last 13 statewide elections. That's because of the decades of work by Ray, who believes, like I do, that the Democratic Party must strengthen and empower our state and local parties."

Ellison then turned his focus to the bigger picture of rebuilding the Democratic Party in hopes of defeating President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

"Throughout this race I've heard loud and clear from DNC Members that this is a moment to use all our talents to rebuild the party from the grassroots up," Ellison continued. "That's how we take our country back, and I cannot be more proud to have Ray Buckley by my side in this fight."

Ellison, who co-chairs the Progressive Congressional Caucus (PCC), was an early and unapologetic supporter of Sanders in his failed bid to secure the Democratic presidential nomination in last year's primary race. His support of Sanders and his work with the PCC has made him a favorite among those wishing to reform the party because they feel it has veered too far to the right. That has reaped major endorsements from the progressive and left wings of the Democratic Party.

"On Friday, both Lily Eskelsen García, head of the nation's largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), as well as the Service Employees International Union announced they were backing the Progressive Congressional Caucus co-chair, following other major labor organizations, including AFL-CIO, Teamsters, United Steelworkers, American Federation of Government Employees, Communications Workers of America, UNITE HERE, and National Nurses United," Lauren McCauley writes in an article for the progressive news site Common Dreams.

"Keith's emphasis and well-documented commitment to party building and grassroots organizing in every community is exactly what we need as the nation finds itself at a crossroad under the divisive Trump administration," Eskelsen García said, according to McCauley.

Ellison faces a tough race against the other frontrunner, former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who is favored by the Party's establishment.

However, as McCauley notes, Politico and others have said that the recent endorsements give Ellison "new strength heading into the homestretch."

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison, Idaho Democratic Party executive director Sally Boynton Brown and television commentator Jehmu Greene remain in the race as well, though Ellison and Perez are widely considered to be the frontrunners.

[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]