Presidential races

Sanders names Cornel West, Keith Ellison to DNC platform committee

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Top Bernie Sanders supporters Dr. Cornel West and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) will be among those on the Democratic Party’s important Platform Drafting Committee after the Vermont senator won a key concession as he looks to leave his mark on the party’s platform.

{mosads}The roster of the drafting committee, released by the Democratic National Committee on Monday, reflects the party’s agreement that Sanders would have five supporters on the committee, compared to six for Hillary Clinton.  

Sanders previously panned DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who appoints all of the committee members, for failing to include enough of his supporters on an initial list. But the latest statement notes that Wasserman Schultz allocated the campaign’s seats “proportionally according to the current vote tally.”
Along with West and Ellison, Sanders supporters on the committee are author Bill McKibben, Arab American Institute head James Zogby and Native American activist Deborah Parker. 
Clinton loyalists on the committee are Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former Clinton staffer and current Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden, Ohio Rep. Alicia Reece, environmentalist Carol Browner, Illinois Rep. Luis Gutiérrez and union head Paul Booth. 
The remaining four members were chosen by Wasserman Schultz.
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, who has endorsed Clinton, will lead the committee and called Sanders’s outsized role on the platform “pretty unusual” for a candidate that likely will not be the party’s nominee during a Monday interview on MSNBC.  
And California Rep. Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against the war in Afghanistan, will also sit on the committee. She has not endorsed either candidate. 
Former Rep. Howard Berman and philanthropist and former CEO of Claire’s Stores Bonnie Schaefer were also appointed.
Clinton’s almost 300 pledged delegate lead has made her nomination likely, but Sanders has not given up the fight and has said he’d fight to the convention floor. 
His selections foreshadow the possibility of a fight over some major tenents of the platform, including minimum wage and the relationship in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
“We believe that we will have the representation on the platform drafting committee to create a Democratic platform that reflects the views of millions of our supporters who want the party to address the needs of working families in this country and not just Wall Street, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry and other powerful special interests,” Sanders said in a statement released by the campaign. 
Zogby is likely the most controversial of Sanders’ picks thanks to his activist work on behalf of pro-Palestinian causes. He’s repeatedly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who himself hasn’t always been the favorite of pro-Israel Democrats, and he wrote in a 2010 column for The Huffington Post that “the plight of Palestinians is to the Arabs, what the Holocaust is to Jews world-wide.”
While Sanders, the most successful Jewish presidential candidate in American history, supports Israel, his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict don’t mesh with that of the party’s establishment. 
He’s argued that Israel took “disproportionate” actions against the Palestinians in the 2014 conflict and has called on Israel to pull back on settlement building and trade restrictions. 
Zogby is not the only name that potentially telegraphs potential platform fights by Sanders’ supporters. 
Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congresss and the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is a co-author of legislation meant to raise the minimum wage to $15. Clinton and other members of the Democratic establishment, including President Obama, back a $12 minimum wage. 
Updated at 5:12 p.m. on 5-25-16
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