What you need to know about Keith Ellison, the next potential DNC chair

For all the talk about the crumbling of the Republican Party in its failure to stand up to Donald Trump, the Democratic Party is in a pretty tenuous position at the present. The devastating loss of the 2016 presidential election and rampant corruption scandals causing former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down leave the party with a lot of rebuilding to do. The first step is appointing a new DNC chair, so here’s what you need to know about Keith Ellison, who could very possibly fill the position.

Not only is the Republican Party slated to soon dominate all three branches of government, but 2018 will see roughly 33 of 46 Democratic congressional seats up for grabs, and after devoting years to setting up President Obama and Hillary Clinton as the faces of the party, the DNC now faces an uphill battle in promoting leadership. For starters, just as one key dilemma confronting the Democratic Party is that its positions are in many ways the mainstream but remain ill-represented on local and state levels, another dilemma exists in how it’s failing to represent the diversity of its supporters in its leaders.

Ellison, a Minnesota congressman since 2007, offers a solution to this issue of representation. As a Muslim and African-American, he could represent two groups whom Trump has threatened to marginalize through his rhetoric and discriminatory policy proposals, from banning Muslim immigration to promoting stop-and-frisk.

On the issues, Ellison is vocally pro-choice and has opposed the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for poor women to access abortion. Ellison supports fetal tissue research, and has vocally spoken up about the need for contraception and abortion access in the military, taking the dialogue around reproductive rights in a rare but deeply important direction. On LGBTQ rights and human rights in general, Ellison is just as progressive. And at 53 years old, he’s relatively young and could serve as a strong leader relatable to marginalized demographics across the nation for years to come.

During election season, Ellison proved that he isn’t afraid to stand up to party establishment and elites as the second congressman to endorse Bernie Sanders. But additionally, Ellison proved his ability to stand with his party and prioritize the greater good of the nation and the protection of marginalized people’s rights by endorsing Clinton in the general election.

Sanders has since endorsed and offered strong support for Ellison. On the importance of cleansing Democratic Party leadership of its elitist tendencies, Sanders told The Washington Post last week, “You can’t tell working people you’re on their side while at the same time you’re raising money from Wall Street and the billionaire class. The Democratic Party has to be focused on grass-roots America and not wealthy people attending cocktail parties.”

Ellison has also been endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who has remained vocal in his opposition to Trump since the election. “My friend Keith Ellison is a terrific leader and a strong progressive who knows how to get things done,” Reid wrote in a statement. “Now is the time for new thinking and a fresh start at the DNC. Now is the time for Keith.”

Sanders and Reid have endorsed Ellison over Howard Dean, another candidate and former DNC chair, perceived by many as representative of the establishment and formerly a vocal critic of Obamacare who claimed in 2003 he wanted to be a candidate for “Confederate flag” owners.