Ellison Leading DNC Race Into Final Weekend

Washington, D.C.- A new survey of DNC members by The Hill shows Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN5) holding a firm lead heading into the final vote in the DNC Leadership race this weekend.

Candidates need to secure a majority of the DNC’s 447 voting delegates to win the chairmanship. None of the remaining candidates are currently close to the 224 vote threshold based on The Hill’s survey. The survey identified the stances of 240 delegates either by private survey or public endorsements.

Ellison and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez are the only candidates with a substantial vote total heading into the weekend. Ellison sits at 105 votes while Perez has 57 in hand. The remaining candidates have less than a dozen votes each, while 50 delegates remain undecided.

“Whoever is going to win is likely going to win on multiple ballots,” Mo Elleithee of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service told The Hill, “All of the public posturing, the big endorsements—none of that matters. It all comes down to the 447 voting members, and they want to know who is going to be able to rebuild the infrastructure of the DNC.”

At the end of each ballot, the candidate with the least votes will be eliminated. Rounds of voting will continue until one candidate reaches the 240 vote threshold.

Ellison backers have warned that much of the progressive grassroots energy Democrats have been able to muster recently may evaporate if he is not elected chair. Much of that energy is currently being used in the protests against President Donald Trump.

“If Perez wins, we’re not gonna come out with pitchforks and say, ‘No, no, no,’” Murshed Zaheed, political director of Credo Action – a progressive activist network – told The Huffington Post, “But people are going to roll their eyes and just keeping doing what they do. It’s going to keep the DNC what it is: an irrelevant, old, stale entity.”

On the flip side of that, some progressive activists warn that Ellison winning the chairmanship will far from guarantee that progressives flock to the Democratic party.

“They are not just gonna come because he’s the chair,” Symone Sanders – a former press secretary for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign told The Huffington Post, “Because then, he’s not some progressive outsider any more — he’s the chair of the Democratic National Committee. He’s now an insider.”

Each candidate has claimed that their private whip list is vastly ahead of the public support. Perez emailed DNC members last week claiming to have 180 delegates backing him. Ellison has also claimed that victory is within sight for his campaign. Neither campaign has released their private list of supporters at this point.

“Many of our supporters have requested that we not release their names publicly due to fear of unwanted calls and other harassment. We believe these members deserve our respect,” Perez’ spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa said.

Both candidates also top the second choice selection of DNC delegates according to The Hill’s survey. Ellison may have more endorsements of public officials than Perez, but the former labor secretary has been holding his own in that fight, drawing the support of Vice President Joe Biden.

Ellison’s support comes largely out of the remains of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) failed presidential bid. Sanders even came out against Biden’s endorsement of Perez, labeling both of them as part of the “failed status quo.”

The factionalization of the progressive wing behind Ellison and the more establishment Democrats behind Perez may lead to a compromise candidate being elected DNC chair.

“I suspect what will help unite people is less which side of the discussion they fell on, and more a desire to resist Donald Trump and take back the House and the Senate,” one DNC member told The Hill,  “The enemy of my enemy is my friend and I think Donald Trump will have a more dramatic effect at unifying Democrats than anyone in the DNC.”

Anders Koskinen