Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, a nominee to lead the DNC. (Karen Murphy / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Update, 12/26:

A Dec. 22 post at ExtraNewsfeed attributed to a self-identified “Berniecrat, Progressive” challenges the version of events presented by Pernick and Sainato below:

Mistakes should be admitted to, not used to mobilize and create a fight.

Instead, the piper is blaming people and dragging down the whole Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) into the gutter, because he was wrong to march us into a closed-door, Labor Caucus meeting, where he was physically assaulted because of it. And of course, I don’t condone physical violence or unwanted shoving.

During the actual Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) meeting, the doors were wide OPEN and remained OPEN. If we had marched through that meeting, they may or may not have objected. But we marched into the wrong meeting.

Why can’t the leader of the rally and march, that was supposed to support Keith Ellison, own up to THAT mistake?

* * *

Reports that senior Michigan Democrats rigged the process for choosing electors of the new DNC chairman and threw Bernie Sanders supporters out of a party meeting suggest that Democratic elites will not allow Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison to become the party’s leader without a fight.

At Observer, Michael Sainato says the ejection occurred at a Michigan Democratic Party committee meeting held Dec. 3. “Unfortunately, rather than learning from Hillary Clinton’s presidential election loss, and sincerely welcoming Bernie Sanders supporters into the party after scolding them for more than a year,” Sainato writes, “the Democratic establishment has continued treating progressives as second class citizens.”

Sainato continues:

During their meeting, Sam Pernick, president of the Young Democrats of Michigan, and other Sanders supporters—who nearly outnumbered the rest of the attendees at the meeting—protested the lack of transparency and openness exercised by the Michigan Democratic Party, which rigged the DNC delegate nomination process behind closed doors. Michigan Democratic Party officials responded with force. Pernick and several others were nearly dragged out of the meeting. Pernick is pursuing charges, and the Westland Police Department recently issued Mike Stone, a senior Michigan Democratic Party official, a ticket for assault and battery.

“We need to make it clear that violence, assault and battery have no place in our party,” Pernick said in a press release. “We came there to protest a lack of transparency and support Keith Ellison for DNC Chair—the reaction from leaders within the party was to violently throw us out of the room.”

Six delegates were to be chosen at that Michigan Democratic Party meeting to represent Michigan at the DNC for the next four years, where they would be able to vote for the next DNC chair, and participate in other important decisions to determine the direction of the entire party. Pernick and his group claimed the voting process was predetermined to reflect the preferences of the party leaders—not its members.

“People keep saying the youth should take part and engage with the party, but if everything is decided beforehand by a handful of elites, then what are they really saying?” asked Pernick. “Despite this unfortunate incident, I want our party to succeed. I want change from the inside and that means organizing youth and showing the party that our voice matters. People need to know that the violent reaction of these senior party members is not acceptable.”

Democrats aligned with Clinton and with President Obama recently nominated Obama’s labor secretary, Thomas Perez, to take the chair. The president recently praised Perez, who supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as “wicked smart.” Perez’ backers are now digging into Ellison’s past in an attempt to portray him as unfit to manage the Democratic Party.

The Hill reports:

Ellison’s critics in the DNC and some supporters of Labor secretary Tom Perez, the other top candidate, are pointing to the Minnesota Democrat’s past tax troubles, campaign finance violations and minor legal issues that once led to his driver’s license being suspended as evidence that he’s ill-equipped to lead the DNC.

Some of those instances date back to the 1990s. All of the issues have been rectified and were previously used in attacks against Ellison during his first run for House in 2006.

Read more from Ellison’s critics here. Ellison’s general response to these charges is quoted by Politico from an interview with that publication’s “Off Message” podcast.

“Everything is fair game and it’s interesting. … [But] I’m 53 years old,” he said. “I have four kids. My youngest child is 20. Some of the things they want to hit me for, I was younger than her when I wrote them. And so, come on. At some point, we all are human beings who have evolved over the course of 25 years, and yet we want to freeze each other in time.”

On the issues facing Democrats and Americans in general, Ellison said: “Of course, we’ve got to have a big tent. We’ve got to be inclusive. We’ve got to get everybody involved. … [But] we’re not performing as well as we should with any sector.”

He added that there are “literally millions of people registered to vote or eligible to vote who have not voted, and some of them are white women, educated women and some of them are black college men and some of them are Latino.” The main issue, he said, is sparking sufficient excitement to motivate the party’s base: “If our problem is we’ve got low voter turnout, I am the one who is best suited to solve that problem.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

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