DFA LIVE: Ellison hints at DNC Chair announcement, DFA responds to Dean tweet on Chair run

Tonight, Rep. Keith Ellison announced that he would make a Monday announcement regarding a run for Democratic National Committee Chair during a "DFA LIVE" conference call with Democracy for America members that also featured Congresswoman-elect Pramila Jayapal and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
 
After DFA Executive Director Charles Chamberlain noted that there were no expectations that he'd make any announcements on this call, Ellison said, "I will announce that I'm going to make an announcement on Monday. So, there you go."
 
In response to news that DFA Founder Howard Dean was interested in returning to his position as Democratic Party chair, Chamberlain also made clear during the call that, as an organization, DFA believes the next party head should be the choice of the grassroots, not party insiders: 

"Here at [Democracy for America] we believe that the Democratic party is at its best when its leaders have the courage to compete for the best ideas, the best practices, and the best people.  
 
"We also believe that part of the reason we have to deal with Donald Trump is because, prior to the start of the 2016 race, Democratic party insiders got together around conference tables in Washington DC  and more or less decided who the presidential nominee would be, without listening to the party’s grassroots base.  That’s wrong and that’s part of the reason why we lost.
 
"So, I want to say this: We here at DFA hope that there will be a vigorous, forward-looking competition for the leadership of the Democratic Party and we strongly believe that the party’s grassroots base -- not party insiders and political elites -- should play the decisive role in choosing who our party’s next leader should be.  Period." -- Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America

A full transcript of the exchange is available below.  A recording is available here.
 
TRANSCRIPT:

CHARLES CHAMBERLAIN (DFA): ... But I do want to start with the question of our next DNC chair. 
 
DFA Founder Governor Howard Dean announced on Twitter just a few hours ago that he’s going to run for DNC chair. And, this morning Bernie announced that he wants you, Keith, to be the next Chair. 
 
Keith, I know you haven’t even announced if you are going to run for it, but I think everyone on this call would like to hear your thoughts.
 
However, before... that, I do want to say, here at DFA we believe that the Democratic party is at its best when its leaders have the courage to compete for the best ideas, the best practices, and the best people.  
 
We also believe that part of the reason we have to deal with Donald Trump is because, prior to the start of the 2016 race, Democratic party insiders got together around conference tables in Washington DC  and more or less decided who the presidential nominee would be, without listening to the party’s grassroots base.  That’s wrong and that’s part of the reason why we lost.
 
So, I want to say this: We here at DFA hope that there will be a vigorous, forward-looking competition for the leadership of the Democratic Party and we strongly believe that the party’s grassroots base -- not party insiders and political elites -- should play the decisive role in choosing who our party’s next leader should be.  Period.
 
Now my question, Congressman Ellison, and like I said, I know you’re not going to make an announcement this evening.  But I do want to ask you this: 
 
What do you think the next chair of the Democratic Party has to be focused on to ensure that Democrats retake the House & Senate in 2018 and beat Donald Trump once and for all in 2020? 
 
REPRESENTATIVE KEITH ELLISON:  Well, I will announce that I'm going to make an announcement on Monday.  So, there you go.
 
CHAMBERLAIN: Excellent!
 
ELLISON: Well, let me just tell you the key has got to be a turnout based, grassroots-based Democratic Party that uses relationship building, one-to-one -- not based on modeling, based on relationships -- where we turn out in the off-years, based on issue advocacy, so that people know that we care.
 
You see, right now, we kind of go to people when the big elections come up.  We have to be a part of people's lives all the time.  And that means taking an inspiring platform to people's doors every single day and building local party units with the priority of turning out the votes at the proper time -- but it all starts with relationships building at the grassroots level.
 
Then we've got to have greater coordination.  Let me tell you, if a member of the House of Representatives is in a state where there's going to be a Senate seat up -- like there's going to be in 2018 -- if you're in a so-called safe seat, right now, we basically ask you for money.  But we really should be asking you to do is to (1) strengthen and support your local state party and (2) also spiking the vote in your so-called safe seat, because every time a member of Congress in a so-called safe-seat, a dem, spikes turn-out it helps us win statewide, it helps us in the governorships, it helps us win the Senate.  And it also helps local State Senators and State Representatives win.  And it helps city council members win.  I think the DNC should be a force to help and connect with local officials, because local officials are the ones who we're seeing pass all kind of green initiatives, wages, scheduling, increasing the minimum wage, that action.
 
I say turn out, greater coordination and collaboration, relationship-based initiatives -- which treat TV as tool, not as a go-to; which [doesn't allow] econometric modeling to substitute bringing Dems together around a pot of chili and getting to know every single place.
 
I think we need a chair who's going to go do some door knocks around the country in the off-year.  In the off-year.  So that people get know them and get to believe that this is their party, a party of working men and women around the country.
 
So, that's where it's at.  Between students, people in labor unions, the right to collective bargaining, the environmental movement, we need a Democratic Party where people feel that that is what their party stands for and stands for them and believes that the most important voice in the party is the grassroots voice.  The voice of that lady who has been pouring coffee for 20 years and believes that it's the Democratic Party is going to make sure she gets her Social Security.  But right now does she even know us, does she know where the building is?  We've got to change that and that's my vision for it.