Vinson Cunningham at The New Yorker:
Ellison is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the putative left-wing answer to the brinksmen of the Freedom Caucus on the right, and he was an early and fervent supporter of Sanders’s Presidential campaign. Like Sanders, he consistently opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal sought by the Obama White House in its final two years which was attacked by populists in both parties. (President Donald Trump recently withdrew the U.S. from the T.P.P.) Ellison announced his candidacy for the D.N.C. chairmanship six days after the Presidential election. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, predictably endorsed him—but so did establishment figures, such as Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, and his predecessor, Harry Reid. One of the early objectives of Schumer’s leadership has been to placate the increasingly powerful Sanders, whom he made a member of his leadership team, and Schumer has said that he endorsed Ellison because Sanders recommended him. This may have been a canny bit of political maneuvering, but it also indicated to Sanders’s supporters that the populist wing of the Democratic Party was poised to lead the opposition against Trump.
The race for the chair has often echoed the acrimony and confusion of the Presidential primaries. Ten candidates are competing for the job, though few have a national profile. Ellison’s chief rival, Thomas E. Perez, was formerly Barack Obama’s Labor Secretary. Perez has consolidated support from much of the Democratic establishment, and increasingly appears to have seized the role of front-runner. Pete Buttigieg, the young mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has positioned himself as a compromise candidate, saying, of the 2016 Democratic primary race, “I don’t know why we’d want to live through it a second time.”