The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ellison tells DNC members that DNC chair rival is trying to skew race

In a letter sent to members of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is accusing a DNC chair rival of misleading committee members to give the impression that the race was surging toward his opponent.

“One of the other great candidates for this race released an unverifiable public whip count earlier this week,” Ellison said in the letter. “You received a voicemail, email and a text message trying to make the race sound like it is over. And the goal is clear: to exert pressure on you. We chose not to engage in the same tactics because we believe you deserve the respect to make your own decision without a finger on the scale. However, I feel compelled to respond: we are very confident in our whip count and are in an excellent position to win next week.”

Ellison’s letter did not mention Thomas Perez, but two days ago the former labor secretary released a memo claiming that 180 of the DNC’s 447 members had endorsed him — putting him just 44 votes away from victory at the Feb. 25 election in Atlanta. That rankled Ellison’s team, which said it believed that some of the members counted by Perez were still up for grabs.

“We are proud of the broad support we’ve received, but it’s clear that this race is far from over,” said Perez spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa. “Tom will spend the next 10 days traveling across the country to talk to Democrats about rebuilding our party.”

Later, as the letter circulated on Twitter, Hinojosa asked why Ellison was spending his time harping about whip counts.

“Trump is destroying our country and DREAMers are being detained, but instead some are arguing about how high our whip count is?” she wrote.

While Ellison and Perez are personal friends, and have declined to attack each other during the campaign, supporters of Ellison — who was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — have looked for evidence that the race is being skewed against him. Last night, after a forum at the Women’s National Democratic Club in Washington, Perez and Ellison grabbed dinner together, and were spotted by the Young Turks reporter Nomiki Konst.

Both men took to Twitter to dispel any rumor that they were meeting to discuss a deal.