Should Keith Ellison be DNC Chairman? Bernie's Leading the Lobbying Effort

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is working to ensure that the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus becomes the man who leads the Democratic Party through the midterm election cycle.

Sanders is gathering online petition signatures to deliver to the Democratic National Committee on behalf of putting Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) at the helm.

"You cannot be a party which on one hand says we're in favor of working people, we're in favor of the needs of young people but we don't quite have the courage to take on Wall Street and the billionaire class. People do not believe that. You've got to decide which side you're on," the petition states.

It includes a quote from Bernie: "We must also do everything we can to elect Democrats in Congress in 2018, and to take back the White House in 2020," the senator said. "We need a Democratic National Committee led by a progressive who understands the dire need to listen to working families, not the political establishment or the billionaire class. That is why I support Keith Ellison to be the next Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and why I hope you'll join me in advocating for him to lead the DNC."

Ellison, one of two Muslim members of Congress who has served in the lower chamber since 2007 and endorsed Sanders for president, has other high-profile backers on the left: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told MSNBC on Thursday that Ellison is "terrific and I think he would make a terrific DNC chair."

But Warren acknowledged that former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, who led the party during President Obama's first election cycle, wants another shot at the job.

"I just recently heard that Howard Dean, I mean, literally just a few minutes ago, I heard that Howard Dean may be in this," the senator said. "I haven't talked to him. Fine. I'd like to hear what his vision is. But I want lots of Democrats in, engaged, and ready to go."

"The dems need organization and focus on the young. Need a fifty State strategy and tech rehab. I am in for chairman again," Dean tweeted.

Other senators are playing it neutral for now, too -- while signaling a change is needed.

"Certainly, I think that we need to have a major shakeup at the DNC. What occurred in the -- during this last election was unacceptable. You need to have a DNC that treats all candidates equally," Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told MSNBC. "But I think we have to infuse the energy of those who campaigned so hard in the election, the grassroots. It can't be business as usual. That's for sure. We've seen American electorate say business for usual is not going to work."

"There is so much that was wrong with the Trump candidacy, but part of the folks who responded to his call were folks who have seen the genuine failure of the economy to lift up working people."

Days before the election, Ellison told MSNBC that "young people just have got to understand that Donald Trump is trying to demoralize and suppress their vote."

"He's trying to confuse them. His whole game is to throw up stuff about this email thing, which is a total nothingburger that [FBI Director James] Comey just started the other day. He's trying to cast doubt on her and is always trying to reinforce this theme on negativity," he said.

Ellison tweeted after Election Day that he's "sure many of the 46 percent" who were eligible to vote but did not "had their votes suppressed" through measures like voter ID laws.

"We don't prioritize turn out enough," the congressman said. "I am ready to roll my sleeves up. Will you join?"

And this morning, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who took an unsuccessful shot at the Dem nomination, hinted that he may want the job as well.

"Since the election, I have been approached by many Democrats who believe our party needs new leadership," O'Malley said. "I'm taking a hard look at DNC Chair because I know how badly we need to reform our nominating process, articulate a bold progressive vision, recommit ourselves to higher wages and a stronger middle class, and return to our roots as a nationwide, grassroots party."