It’s no secret that the smear campaign against Keith Ellison has been running nonstop since he decided to run for head of the DNC. There have been nasty whispers about his religion and about his racial identity. These were followed by groundless accusations of anti-semitism. Ellison has dealt with these accusations throughout his political career, and he has overcome them to become the first black congressman from Minnesota. Through his passionate populist rhetoric Ellison has assumed a role as one of the brightest progressive stars in the Democratic firmament, easily winning election as a black Muslim in Minnesota, an upper-Midwestern state that is among the nation’s whitest and that shifted strongly toward Republicans this year.
But the smears have kept on coming. The latest involves attacks on Ellison for late payment of parking tickets and taxes—issues that have been resolved for years and were unsuccessfully used as attacks against him by Minnesota Republicans. The leaders of this smear campaign have been varied, but one of them is a longtime California DNC member named Bob Mulholland, who was quoted at length in this anti-Ellison piece in The Hill yesterday.
Some California DNC members have had enough of the smears and released this statement today:
California Democrats say “no” to smear campaigns in the DNC Chair race.
We are compelled to denounce and distance ourselves from the unwarranted attacks on Keith Ellison attributed to one of our California DNC brethren. We write as a diverse group of Bernie supporters, Hillary supporters, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Atheists, women and men, young and not-so-young. Some of us have endorsed Keith Ellison, others are uncommitted, but we are united as Democrats against turning the race for DNC Chair into a circular firing squad.
Now more than ever, the Democratic Party needs to have a principled debate about its future that is based on issues and organizing strategy. Unfortunately, our fellow Californian Bob Mulholland has decided that we should drag good Democrats through the mud in order to advance an unknown agenda in the important race for DNC Chair. What is worse, Mulholland hasn’t stopped at targeting Ellison, a public figure and seasoned veteran of political battles. He’s directed his venom towards rank-and-file Democratic activists who have stepped up to share their thoughts on the future of our Party. In his own words to one activist, he “is not interested in hearing from” them. We are.
The recent “story” in The Hill is a typical product Mulholland creates- we’ve seen him employ the politics of personal destruction against our opponents for years. When you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail. Now, he's turning his mud-throwing on Keith Ellison, a strong candidate in the DNC election. As Party leaders who work closely with grassroots activists, we know that our base is hungry for change, for a bolder and more substantive style of leadership. Most of all, they want leaders who put the needs of working families, students, women, people of color, LGBT Americans and the environment above petty power-plays.
This is not the California way. As one of the few States where Democrats govern with strong majorities, we need to set a higher bar. Many of our Party’s greatest leaders, from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama to our own distinguished Party Chair, John Burton, made mistakes in the past, and we are grateful that they were given the chance to lead despite such mistakes.
Our Democratic Party leaders and activists around the country deserve to be listened to- not berated. We call upon all candidates for DNC Officers, including DNC Chair, to reject smear campaign tactics. Please join us.
Sandra Lowe, DNC Member
Michael Kapp, DNC Member
Melahat Rafiei, DNC Member
Otto Lee, DNC Member
Daraka Larimore-Hall, California Democratic Party Secretary
Hilary Crosby, California Democratic Party Controller
Kerri Asbury, Chair, Democratic Party of Sacramento
Tim Paulson, Chair, Democratic Party of California Labor Caucus
I couldn’t agree more, and for what it’s worth I’m adding my name in support as the South Vice Chair of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee and President of the Democratic Club of Santa Barbara.
Enough is enough. The Democratic Party needs to restore its image as the party that provides hope for a better economic and social future, and that pushes back against the lies and hate that big money and its allies use to compel our silence. Californians are helping to lead that charge today.
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