As Democrats attempt to regroup and regain strength after the 2016 presidential election, the Democratic Party is looking to elect a new chairman.
The nation’s first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison from Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, and South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison (two of the individuals vying for the distinction of the leader of the DNC), spoke with Roland Martin on NewsOne Now.
Ellison, who spoke with Martin during a NewsOne Now / Tom Joyner Morning Show simulcast, explained to viewers his track record mobilizing voters in his home state make him the best choice for DNC chair. He told Martin the main issue in the 2016 election was voter turnout and said, “I am particularly good at turnout.”
Rep. Ellison said decentralizing power to the grassroots level and “turning on during the off years” allows for relationships to be built with voters. Ellison said, “You know these politicians who show up in election year in October talking about ‘Pastor, can I use your pulpit?’ That is an old model that we got to get rid of. We got to be talking to people throughout the year about what concerns them the most.”
Ellison also shared his desire to invest in Black media “who can get the people out” to the polls on Election Day. He expressed it is imperative “to get the resources to the people closest to the voters.”
Harrison, who spoke with Martin during the segment immediately following Rep. Ellison, said he should be elected as the next DNC chair because he can “bridge the gap between what’s going on in Washington, D.C. and what’s going on in the states.”
Harrison served as the Executive Director for the House Democratic Caucus and ran the whip operation for Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC). He believes serving as DNC chair in a full-time capacity will allow him to focus on rebuilding the Democratic Party.
Harrison’s critics say the biggest drawback is the fact that he is a lobbyist. According to Martin, Harrison’s detractors have said, “That is the last thing Democrats need is a lobbyist running the party at a time when you have such resentment against an establishment in D.C.”
Harrison’s response: “That’s how I pay my bills…My story is the American story. A story of a kid who went from rags … to being able to provide for his family.
“One thing we have to stop doing in this Democratic Party is demonizing people who are successful, demonizing people who work.”
When asked how he would rebuild the Democratic Party, Harrison said, “We have to transform the Democratic Party from a political organization that just begs for votes every two and every four years to a community organization that is actually in the community, working and with people to solve the issues that are important to them.”
Watch Roland Martin’s conversation with Rep. Keith Ellison in the video clip above and Jamie Harrison in the video clip below.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty