Ilyse Hogue Is The Pro-Choice Activist The DNC Will Need Under President Trump
While her place in the race is not official, there are already reports that NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue may run for Democratic National Committee chair. Although reports that Hogue might consider running to succeed the interim DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile have been out since mid-November, last week, Hogue took a big step towards tossing her hat into the race.
On Nov. 28, Politico reported that it had obtained an email Hogue wrote to DNC members detailing her platform and ideas for moving the party forward under a President Donald Trump. Politico also reported that "the liberal activist is engaged in discussions about entering the contest, according to multiple Democrats who have spoken with Hogue."
The national communications director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, Kayley Hanson Long, shed light on Hogue's current decision-making process in an email to Bustle, though she declined to confirm whether Hogue would officially enter the race. "Many people within the Democratic Party at both the national and state level have approached Ilyse about running for chair of the party," Long noted.
In her email to Bustle, Long continued to detail how the election loss has forced Hogue and the her team to continue to brain-storm strategies for the Democratic party:
We are just a few weeks away from a devastating loss. Ilyse feels strongly that we should not rush to a decision on the next chair, and we should consider people of all backgrounds, representing all constituencies within the Democratic Party. The Party needs to re-evaluate our message, our field program and outreach, our data, and everything in between.
In Hogue's email to DNC members, the former Hillary Clinton surrogate who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia presented a ten-point platform. Hogue's first point was "Unity Through Resistance," in which she emphasized that the future of the party needed to be based on Democrats banding together against President-elect Donald Trump:
Fighting Trump’s agenda has to be top priority for the Party in order to serve the health and well-being of the majority of citizens and for us to be the standard-bearer of American values.
However, should Hogue decide to run for DNC head, she will have to fight some of her fellow party members first.
The race to head the DNC is growing seemingly more crowded by the day. A Day after Politico reported Hogue's email to DNC members, New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley announced his candidacy for DNC chair. In doing so, Buckley became the fourth official contender for DNC chair, joining the ranks of the former DNC chairman and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the South Carolina Democratic chairman Jaime Harrison, and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison.
At this point, in the race, Ellison has generated the most buzz. There's been a groundswell of growing support from the left for the Minnesota congressman ever since he entered the race. After announcing his decision to run, Ellison was quickly endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, whom Ellison supported during the primaries.
Ellison's support from established Democratic leaders also includes, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, as well as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Bustle reached out several times to Ellison's office, but his team declined to respond to our requests for commentary.
If Hogue were to run for DNC chair, her candidacy would stand out for a number of reasons. For one, it's quite obvious she would be the only woman running (at least thus far in the current state of the race).
But another standout is how much of her career has been specifically devoted to pro-choice activism. With a President Trump coming in — a man who once said women who sought illegal abortions should be punished (he walked back that proposal after receiving swift backlash) — protecting women's reproductive rights will likely be a top concern over the next four years. Having A DNC chair with seasoned experience in pro-choice battles could be a major asset for the Democratic party.
Hogue also has a strong record of political advocacy from her time at MoveOn.org - a political action committee that raises money to support progressive candidates, as well as Media Matters, a non-profit progressive research organization that monitors conservative media.
With the combination of her advocacy of progressive politics and her pro-choice activism, if Hogue entered the race she could potentially contend for many of the same supporters Ellison is already courting.
In recent weeks, the grassroots organization MoveOn.Org hosted a petition to support Ellison as DNC chair. While it wasn't an official endorsement from MoveOn.org themselves, it provided another solid platform to spread his campaign.
Ilya Sheman, the executive director of political action at MoveOn, shared his thoughts about the DNC chair race and the possibility of Hogue running with Bustle in an email:
Ilyse is a highly effective strategist and communicator, and is a senior leader in the progressive movement. During her time at MoveOn, she played a vital role in mobilizing grassroots support to help secure passage of the Affordable Care Act. She's a close friend to multiple MoveOn staff, and we have nothing but good things to say about her.
When he went on to share her thoughts about Ellison's fight for DNC chair, Sheman placed an emphasis on the need for a DNC chair to give the party a fresh start. "The DNC must clean house and the new chair must stand up to all efforts by Trump and Republicans," he wrote, adding that, "At the same time, the DNC must connect with the grassroots of the party base that wants the party to reject corporate influence and advance an inclusive, progressive agenda."
For such reasons, Sherman wrote he believed that, "Ellison would be an excellent DNC chair." However, Sherman did not formally endorse any candidate.
It's important to note that Ellison, although considered a favorite, is certainly not without some serious flaws and concerns. Last week, the Anti-Defamation League publicly criticized Ellison for a speech he gave in 2010. In the criticized speech, Ellison reportedly said about the United States' relationship with Israel:
The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people. A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt released a statement on Ellison's remarks, saying they were "both deeply disturbing and disqualifying." Greenblatt added:
His words imply that U.S. foreign policy is based on religiously or national origin-based special interests rather than simply on America’s best interests. Additionally, whether intentional or not, his words raise the specter of age-old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives, but that has no place in open societies like the U.S.
Ellison responded in a public letter that the speech in question was "selectively edited and taken out of context." He added that "My record proves my deep and long-lasting support for Israel, and I have always fought anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and homophobia — the same values embodied by the Anti-Defamation League."
At this point, there's still time for Hogue and, for that matter, others candidates to jump into the race. The 447 members of the Democratic National Convention won't be casting their official votes for the DNC chair election until Feb. 24, 2017. Hogue's entrance into the DNC race would certainly add a new option for members torn over how the party should proceed in combatting Trump's agenda.