Keith Ellison
Keith Ellison Credit: Lorie Shaull/Wikicommons

I don’t have strong opinions on who should head the Democratic National Committee. From what I’ve seen of him, I like Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota. I believe I even did some work with his staff when I was consulting for Democracy for America. The opposition file dump on him just came out, and it’s substantial. I don’t know if the party wants that kind of headache, but I think it really comes down to whether Ellison would be good at the job.

On that score, my concern is that he’s a full-time congressman, and that doesn’t leave enough time for another full-time job. He could have the greatest ideas in the world, but I’m skeptical that he’d be able to devote enough attention to heading the DNC.

I saw that Markos Moulitsas endorsed NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue. I agreed with a lot of his reasoning, although I don’t really care all that much that she has a background in the Netroots. It’s nice, but her ideas are more important.

Howard Dean is an interesting case because he doesn’t fit neatly into any particular camp. It’s telling that Markos, who actually worked for Dean in 2004, didn’t even devote time to making a case against him. Dean is not a clear favorite of the establishment of the party, and Chuck Schumer endorsed Ellison which tells you that he and Dean are still on the outs. This shows that the old Emanuel/Schumer war with Dean may always have been more personal than ideological, as Ellison is clearly as progressive as anyone under consideration.

Yet, despite Dean lacking support from quarters where you might expect it, it’s widely conceded that he was an effective chairman of the DNC. He did a good job before, so why couldn’t he do a good job again?

There’s probably a temptation to worry about the racial/religious/gender identity of the chairman since they will be an important symbol of the party. I don’t care about that very much. I think the most important thing is that they have good ideas and management skills and that they can devote all their energies to the job.

None of these candidates appear to me to be miracle workers, and none of them strike me as clear disasters. So, I guess I just don’t care very much who gets the job.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at