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Baltimore City Council president, members back Ellison for DNC chairman

Baltimore City Council President, members back Rep. Ellison for DNC chair.

Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and a majority of the council want Rep. Keith Ellison to be the Democratic National Committee’s next chairman.

Ellison, a congressman from Minnesota, is facing former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, of Maryland, and eight others who want to lead the party as it tries to recover from November’s election losses.

“Keith has a vision for a party that is inclusive and progressive,” Young said in a statement.  “A party that is uniquely positioned to fight for an agenda that invests in young people, defends the rights of marginalized citizens, and advocates for policies that benefit working-class Americans.”

A new chair will be selected by Democratic insiders this month. Ellison and Perez are considered frontrunners.

Ellison has been cast by supporters as more liberal than Perez, who some view as more of an insider. Ellison also has been endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, the former presidential candidate, and Benjamin Jealous, former head of the NAACP. Perez has the backing of former Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Steny Hoyer of Southern Maryland.

In addition to the council president, the following council members endorsed Ellison, according to Young’s office: John T. Bullock, Kristerfer Burnett, Zeke Cohen, Ryan Dorsey, Bill Henry, Sharon Green Middleton, Brandon M. Scott and Robert Stokes Sr.

Ellison said cooperation between the national party and local officials will be key to Democrats' success.

"So much happens at the local level, whether it's minimum wage increases, transportation, or funding for education," Ellison said in a statement. "That's why making sure our local parties are getting the resources they need is so important."

"... As DNC Chair, I plan to provide the proper resources to our local leaders to make sure they are able to compete and win. I am grateful to them for their support and I look forward to working with them as chair of the DNC."

Young said a strong national party leader is critical.

“At a time when our federal government seems intent on rolling back hard-fought progress on matters of civil rights, we need a Chair of the DNC who is capable of pushing an aggressive agenda in support of America’s long-held ideals of equality and justice for all,” Young said.

Ellison has also secured the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ. The group's president Héctor Figueroa, a member of the DNC, said Ellison has an "inclusive vision."

“Ellison is the right person to lead a process that starts with rebuilding a Democratic Party committed to a grassroots strategy capable of engaging working-class voters and electing working families Democrats," Figueroa said in a statement. "We need a full-time Chair ready to expand the electorate with a fifty state strategy that opens wide the door of the Democratic Party."

32BJ SEIU has more than 163,000 members, including 18,000 in the Washington and Baltimore areas.

ywenger@baltsun.com

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