WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said he would quit Congress should he be elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, addressing one of the principle objections to his candidacy.
“In order to further their commitment and maximize my effectiveness, I have decided to resign as a member of Congress if I win the election for DNC chair,” Ellison said in a statement Wednesday. “Whoever wins the DNC chair race faces a lot of work, travel, planning and resource raising. I will be ‘all-in’ to meet the challenge.”
Ellison’s bid to be party chief has faced controversy because of his Israel criticism and his sharp and at times derisive comments about Israel and the pro-Israel lobby while in Congress, and his youthful membership in the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam, which he has long since disavowed. Liberal Jewish groups have stood by him during the recent controversy, noting his outspoken advocacy for a two-state solution and his pushing back against anti-Semitism among Muslims, while centrist pro-Israel groups and figures have said he is not fit for the job.
Among the Democratic state and party officials who vote, however, the principal objection was that the belief that the party needs a full-time chairman to rebuild it after devastating across the board losses in the recent presidential and congressional elections. The most recent chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., was seen as not devoting enough of her time to the job.
Donna Brazile is acting chairwoman until elections take place next month.