WASHINGTON – Facing a potential challenge from Labor Secretary Tom Perez in his push to become the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) suggested Wednesday night that he would oversee a robust effort to counter Donald Trump’s presidency.
“If there was ever a moment when people who love this country and the people in it-need to step-up and do everything they can to improve the lives of their fellow Americans; that moment is right now,” Ellison said during remarks before the American Federation of Teachers in Washington, D.C. “If I told you that you had an opportunity to fight for people who felt vulnerable and scared in this Trump-America, would you do it? If I told you that you had a chance to stand up and fight for working people, would you do it?”
Ellison was enthusiastically introduced by former Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Sanders told the union members that he is supporting the congressman’s bid for party chair because Ellison has remained an unwavering advocate for the rights of the working-class as well as those who feel marginalized.
Ellison has been endorsed by both outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-Ny.). He also enjoys the support of Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct.), New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, as well as other major players in the Democratic Party.
U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez has reportedly been mobilizing to enter the fray.
As Labor Secretary and former head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division, Perez is regarded as a formidable contender, but his past support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement has been met with derision by many party activists who believe that had the deal been approved, many U.S. jobs could have been shipped overseas.
Ellison currently faces a challenge from the chairs of the both New Hampshire and South Carolina Democratic Party.
Ellison, who in 2006 became the first American-Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, has recently faced significant criticism from pro-Israel groups over a 2010 speech he made many would suggest was arguably hostile toward the Jewish State.
Most pro-Israel groups have said that Ellison’s support for the Jewish State has been lukewarm and the congressman has on occasion suggested sympathy with Palestinian land claims.
Ellison has frequently denied assertions maintaining that he is anti-Israel.