Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison Announces Bid for DNC Chair

PHOTO: Rep. Keith Ellison speaks during a press conference about Islamophobia at the National Press Club, May 24, 2016 in Washington, DC. PlayBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
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Rep. Keith Ellison formally announced his candidacy for chair of the Democratic National Committee today, an expected move by the Minnesota congressman who, with the support of several prominent Democrats, is considered to be the front-runner for the position.

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Ellison, 53, a five-term representative from the progressive wing of the party, had been floated as a potential chair in the aftermath of last week's general election, which saw Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton defeated by Republican Donald Trump.

"I am proud to announce my candidacy for Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and if given the opportunity to serve, I will work tirelessly to make the Democratic Party an organization that brings us together and advances an agenda that improves people’s lives," Ellison said in a statement today.

The congressman can count on the backing of a number of party leaders who emerged last week to support Ellison, widely viewed as a rising star in the party.

"My friend Keith Ellison is a terrific leader and a strong progressive who knows how to get things done," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement over the weekend. "Now is the time for new thinking and a fresh start at the DNC. Now is the time for Keith."

Ellison has also been endorsed by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who is expected to succeed Reid as senate minority leader next year, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose challenge of Clinton for the party's presidential nomination rallied young Democrats and led the party to craft the most progressive platform in its history.

A progressive himself, Ellison was the first Muslim American elected to the House of Representatives upon winning his seat in 2006. The 53-year-old is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and sits on the Financial Services Committee.

The DNC chair position opened this summer when Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned from the post in the aftermath of a scandal surrounding leaked emails that appeared to show party officials conspiring against Sanders' primary bid. Donna Brazile followed Wasserman Schultz in an interim capacity, though was implicated herself in assisting Clinton in further leaked emails that purportedly show her providing the candidate with question topics prior to last year's primary debates.

Ellison's announcement includes endorsements from an assortment of elected officials and party members, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.