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Ellison Seeks Chairmanship of Progressive Caucus

With Rep. Lynn Woolsey stepping aside from leadership in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, another Representative is stepping forward for the spot.

Sophomore Rep. Keith Ellison is circulating a letter asking fellow members of the CPC to support his bid to serve as the group’s chairman in the 112th Congress.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter released Wednesday and obtained by Roll Call, the Minnesota Democrat pledged to “work to strengthen [the CPC’s] internal cohesion and discipline as a voting bloc within the Congress.”

“Moving forward, I believe that the CPC can, and must, be the driving force behind a core set of principles and policies aimed at securing immediate and long term prosperity for America’s working families,” Ellison wrote. “If elected chair, I would work to utilize the vast talents of our membership, particularly by expanding CPC communication and policy efforts.”

Ellison added that the CPC, which has strengthened its ties with grass-roots organizations, must “more actively engage the broader progressive community outside the halls of Congress.

“The true power of a progressive agenda rests with the broad grassroots support across the country for progressive policies that lift working Americans up and rebuild our nation for long-term sustainability,” he wrote.

Ellison is the second lawmaker to express an interest in leading the group in the next Congress. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who has co-chaired the CPC for nearly two years with Woolsey (D-Calif.), has said he will seek another term.

Woolsey said Wednesday that she would not seek a fourth term as head of the CPC. She has said she thinks the group would function better with a single chair, but Grijalva recently indicated that he thinks the two-chair system has worked well. Ellison’s letter does not address the topic.

Grijalva, meanwhile, is locked in a tougher-than-expected re-election race against Republican Ruth McClung in Arizona’s 7th district, which is normally a safe Democratic district.

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