January 2, 2017

DNC Race Turns Into Nasty Sanders-Clinton Proxy Fight

As the race for DNC Chairman approaches, the fight between Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Secretary Tom Perez is taking an ugly turn. Ellison was a prominent supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, while Perez campaigned hard for Hillary Clinton. That dynamic has seen the race turn into a proxy fight between the Sanders and Clinton-Obama wings of the Democratic Party.

One significant challenge for Congressman Ellison’s is that his past ties to the Nation of Islam have received prominent attention in the past weeks. This has led many to view him as no longer fit to lead the DNC:

“But almost as soon as he did so, a new chorus of objections to his candidacy began: top Democratic sources told reporters they were growing concerned about Ellison’s alleged ties to the Nation of Islam and radical black Muslim organizers in the 1990s. To Ellison’s supporters — largely from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party — these attacks looked like ugly smears cynically deployed to derail their candidate.”

Adding to the perception that the DNC race is a proxy fight between Sanders and Clinton supporters, many Ellison supporters view this as Perez using the Clinton playbook to derail Ellison’s campaign:

“But instead, centrist liberals are trying to beat Ellison with a lot of cheap shots. It smacks very much of Clinton’s campaign against Sanders, which leveraged right-wing propaganda about single-payer, or her campaign against Obama in 2008, which had odious racist and Islamophobic undertones.”

Perez has even taken to copying one of Clinton’s many mocked slogans, when he called himself a “progressive who gets things done.” Clinton after all used that same phrase to differeniate herself from Sanders. Many liberals also view the hidden hand of the White House working to back Perez and harm Ellison:

“Centrist liberals in the White House have challenged Ellison, putting up Labor Secretary Tom Perez as an alternative. But the underhanded way they have conducted their campaign is politically blinkered and morally hideous.”

Since Election Day, the Democratic Party has bounced from one catastrophe to the next. While the party needs unity the most right now, they’ve now found themselves with an existential fight for the DNC chairmanship.