Assuming the Washington rumor mill is still functional, we’ll be learning shortly that Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) will be turning in a pair of resignations shortly. First, he’s going to drop out of his role at the DNC citing irreconcilable differences with the current DNC Chair. But on top of that, he’ll be leaving Congress as well, choosing to focus his efforts on becoming the new Attorney General in his home state. Presumably, that will make it easier to bring lawsuits against the White House himself rather than waiting around for others to sue the President. (Politico)
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is expected to make a last-minute entry into the race for Minnesota attorney general on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with his plans.
“I will make a decision tomorrow because it’s the filling deadline,” Ellison said, not disputing that he is likely to enter the election.
Ellison has been in Congress since 2007, and served as deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee since last year, as a leader of the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. But he’s been chafing for months at both roles: being in the minority in Congress and being subsumed to DNC Chairman Tom Perez, who beat him for the top job.
Ellison had looked at jumping into the AG race earlier in the year but passed on it after incumbent Lori Swanson skipped her own expected run for governor and seemed set to run for re-election. But then came a weekend of drama at the Minnesota Democrat-Farmer-Laborer convention: Swanson didn’t get a majority of support for reelection and jumped into the governor’s race on Monday.
This decision is obviously one of convenience. An opening at the AG post looks to be ripe for the picking and the time to act is short so Ellison appears ready to jump. Also, insiders at the DNC have claimed that Ellison is “sick of Chair Tom Perez” and has expressed frustration at being in the minority in Congress. If the latter claim is true, does that tell us something about the internal numbers that the Democrats are looking at? If they truly believe that the blue wave will carry them back to the majority in November, Ellison wouldn’t have all that long to wait. But if he’s bailing out now it sounds as if he doesn’t think they’ll have the numbers to pull it off.
The other big question looming here is who will assume the unofficial role as the leader and spokesperson of the Bernie Sanders wing of the party in the Democrats’ House lineup. The base is obviously sick of the moderates at this point and are looking for firebrands to fly the #RESIST flag in the mold of Sanders and Warren. But as the Dems’ lead on the generic ballot continues to shrink, those voices are growing increasingly quiet as they scramble for a message that voters might actually buy into. The reactionary left doesn’t seem to be selling all that well in the heartland.
Exit question: Ellison obviously has been coveting some sort of larger national role and he’s been mentioned as a presidential candidate more than once. (Just imagine the historic nature of the First Muslim President.) Thus far his resume only contains legislative work. Ellison is still relatively young. Is he looking for an AG position to burnish his CV a bit for a later national bid?