Democratic National Committee (DNC) Vice Chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) tried to have it both ways when asked about challengers to Democratic incumbents during an interview on “The Young Turks.”
In the interview, Ellison said the that the DNC would not be getting involved in primaries before immediately reversing his statement claiming that at the end of the day, having a majority is the most important thing.
The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur asked Ellison if the DNC would get involved in Democratic primaries that saw less progressive incumbents going against challengers that have more progressive views and may be more in line with Ellison’s own views.
“As a matter of policy at the DNC, if there is a primary between a Democratic incumbent and a Democrat who’s challenging them in primary, do you guys take sides? Do you support the incumbent? Or do you say we support them equally and good luck to both of them,” Uygur asked Ellison.
“We got to stay out of that, we cannot get in a primary not for an incumbent, not for anybody,” Ellison responded.
Ellison said the party needs to change how it approaches challengers to incumbents, telling Uygur that incumbents should welcome the challenge as a forum for them to tout the work they have done for their district.
“I’ve talked to a lot of friends who’ve said, ‘Can you believe that guy filed against me?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, so what? If you’re doing a good job and telling your story, you’re going to beat him,'” Ellison explained. “The DNC as long as I’m around will never be involved in getting in the middle of primaries.”
Ellison immediately flipped on that position telling Uygur, “but then there is the pragmatic situation, too. You’ve got some folks who…if that person loses that primary are they going to lose that seat? Which is kind of scary proposition because at the end of the day…we’ve got to have majorities. What you’re asking me is not an easy call.”