Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a leading contender to head the Democratic National Contender, offered Wednesday to resign from Congress if he is elected.
“Whoever wins the DNC chair race faces a lot of work, travel, planning and resource raising,” Ellison said in a statement. “I will be ‘all-in’ to meet the challenge.”
The Minnesota Democrat won early endorsements from the progressive wing of the Democratic party, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) also backed Ellison, praising him as a “terrific leader and a strong progressive who knows how to get things done.”
His path was made easier late last week when Howard Dean dropped his bid for a second run as DNC chair, citing a “possibly divisive” race.
Yet Ellison’s campaign has been dogged by his past ties to the Nation of Islam and his defense of its leader, Louis Farrakhan, who has made anti-Semitic comments. Though he distanced himself from the group during his first congressional race in 2006, the Anti-Defamation League and Israeli-American megadonor Haim Saban criticized past comments he made about Israel as unacceptable.
Ellison also faced pushback from some Democrats who said that the DNC chairmanship had to be a full-time job. In his Wednesday statement, he said he has spent the weeks since entering the race “listening to a great many party activists.”
“At this point, the Democratic Party must be the party that delivers for working people,” he wrote. “We can do that by meeting folks where they are, looking them in the eye, treating them with respect, and working to solve their problems. For me, that means a chair with only one full time commitment.”
The Democratic National Committee will vote on new leadership in February 2017.
Read Ellison’s full statement below, via Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur.
New: Keith Ellison says he’ll resign from Congress if elected DNC chair. pic.twitter.com/rOEBa1EBQQ
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) December 7, 2016