John Lewis pitches Ellison for DNC chairman

John Lewis pitches Ellison for DNC chairman
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Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) sent a letter to Democratic National Committee (DNC) members on Friday, urging them to back Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in the DNC chair race.

Lewis touted Ellison as a powerful organizer with a deep background in protecting civil rights and the best candidate for the job of rebuilding a fractured Democratic Party.

“Keith's long history as an organizer who can energize the grassroots makes him the best choice to lead our party during this critical time,” Lewis said in a statement.

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“He knows that sometimes you have to have good trouble. You have to get in the way and raise your voice. But protest must be channeled into electoral and legislative success,” he continued. “Keith’s record standing with the grassroots means he is a trusted partner to harness this protest energy into rebuilding Democratic Party.”

Ellison was the first candidate to jump into the DNC race and earned early support from top party leaders, including Senate Democratic leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDon’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win MORE (N.Y.) and top labor unions like the AFL-CIO.

He is locked in a tight race with former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who has gained traction in the race.

Lewis had previously announced his support for Ellison and his letter comes a few days after Perez landed a high-profile endorsement from former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenDem strategist says Clinton ‘absolutely’ has a role to play in 2020 It's Bernie Sanders vs. Elizabeth Warren in New Hampshire Harry Reid says he won’t make 2020 endorsement until after Nevada caucus MORE.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders endorses Oakland teachers strike Dem strategist says Clinton ‘absolutely’ has a role to play in 2020 News media has sought to 'delegitimize' Tulsi Gabbard, says liberal journalist MORE (I-Vt.), who’s backing Ellison, responded to Biden’s endorsement, saying that while he respects both the former vice president and Perez, they are part of the “failed status-quo approach.” Ellison was a loyal supporter of Sanders during the Democratic presidential primaries against eventual nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDem strategist says Clinton ‘absolutely’ has a role to play in 2020 Left-leaning journalist: Sanders would be 'formidable candidate' against Trump Clinton hits EPA for approval of pesticide dump: ‘We need bees!’ MORE.

The Vermont senator’s response angered Democratic Party officials, who accused Sanders of relitigating the bruising primary fight as the party seeks to move on and unite the different factions.

The DNC’s 447 members will convene in Atlanta in late February to cast their votes for the next national party chairman.

Lewis represents most of Atlanta and its suburbs and his Friday statement took a swipe at President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE, who earlier this month tweeted that the congressman’s district is “crime infested” and “falling apart.” His tweet was in response to Lewis’s announcement that he was boycotting Trump’s inauguration.

The Georgia Democrat lauded Ellison as the best candidate to take on the Trump administration.

“I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting for the rights that are being viciously attacked by Donald Trump and his administration,” Lewis said. “As Democrats, we must seek a leader who has demonstrated the ability to continue the fight to protect all that we hold dear as a nation.”