Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean announced on Friday that he has dropped out of the race to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee and said he does not support contender Keith Ellison “as long as he has his congressional seat.”
“I don’t support Keith. Maybe I will later, but I don’t know,” Dean said during an appearance on MSNBC.
Ellison, who is a former Nation of Islam member and alleged anti-Semite, has faced a slew of criticism — including from the Anti-Defamation League — after audio surfaced from 2010 in which the left-wing congressman said that Israel controlled the U.S. government. Dean added that Ellison would not be a formidable choice for the DNC post because, “I do not believe we can have a chair that has two jobs. You cannot have a sitting politician in this job.” Ellison is a sitting congressman representing Minnesota.
Dean, who served as DNC Chair from 2005 to 2009, made the announcement that he was withdrawing from the race in a pre-recorded video and later appeared on MSNBC where he said he made the decision because he feels “strongly that our party needs to turn itself over to the next generation.” Dean sees himself, instead, coaching the next DNC chair from the background.
He suggested one of the reasons the Democrats lost this election cycle was because they did not connect to young people enough and stressed the importance of having a younger candidate in the DNC chair post in order to attract more young voters to the Democratic Party.
Building upon that, Dean said, “I really do think this needs to go to a younger person.” While he did not make an endorsement, he spoke highly of South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jamie Harrison who he described as “a really, really good candidate.” Harrison is 40, Ellison is 53.
Dean also said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, 57, “is certainly very experienced” and pushed the notion that there may be other candidates coming in ahead of the February election.
While he stating that he was not yet ready to throw his full support behind any of the candidates in the running just yet, he said he “may or may not make an endorsement down the line.”
He added that the election was not about ideology and said that “anybody who runs to be the chair to push a particular ideology should not be the chair.”
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