“This deputy chair thing — it’s not even in the charter,” Ellison said. “I’m gonna need your support on this. I’m not nobody’s window dressing. And I just want to tell you this: We had to walk out of that room together. We had to deliver that. But now we’ve got to make it into something that really means something.”
The contentious race to lead the DNC, which pulled labor unions, progressive groups and even Alan Dershowitz into the field, ended with a progressive in charge. It just wasn’t the progressive endorsed by the party’s restive left wing. On Sunday’s episode of CNN’s “State of the Union,” Ellison backer Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) declined, twice, to say that the DNC would get to use his email list.
“Where we are right now is that we are going to support and have supported and will continue to support those candidates who have the guts to stand up for working families and take on the big money interests, the people around Donald Trump,” Sanders said.
In his first 72 hours as chair, Perez has tried to cool tensions with a stream of praise for Ellison. It continued today with a speech to the Latino Victory Fund, where the two men shared a podium; it will culminate when Perez sits at President Trump’s address to Congress as Ellison’s guest. The LVF speech was half agenda, have lovefest. Ellison introduced Perez with a mixture of his own DNC slogans and full-throated praise of his chairman.
“Tom’s going to be leading us not just in the suites, but in the streets,” Ellison said. “People say: Should we campaign in the rural areas or in the urban areas? Tom and I have a simple answer: Yes.”
When his turn came, Perez spent several minutes praising his deputy chair.
“I traveled to his district more times than any other district, to do things together with him, and those things were involving how we help make middle class peoples’ lives better,” Perez said. “My children asked me: Was he the first Muslim elected to Congress? I said yes. Then they asked: Has there ever been a Latino elected to the House from Minnesota? I said yes: His name is Keith Ellison. Because Keith Ellison has always been there for the Latino community.”
The rest of the speech got to what Perez hoped Democrats were paying attention to — the record of the Trump administration in office. The decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to drop the Obama-era DOJ’s lawsuit against Texas’s voting laws “does a disservice to the name ‘Department of Justice,’ ” Perez said. He recalled the time that Sessions said that “almost no one” immigrating to America from the Dominican Republic had valuable skills; Perez, whose parents immigrated from that country, took it personally.
“I’d like to introduce him to my four siblings, all of whom are doctors, who I think are adding value in underserved communities,” Perez said. “So go shove it, sir.”
By the afternoon of Trump’s speech, Perez and Ellison’s names had appeared on DNC fundraising emails.