DNC deputy chair says Obama partly to blame for Trump victory, Democratic losses

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn, who is a candidate to run the Democratic National Committee, speaks during the general session of the DNC winter meeting in Atlanta, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017.

AP Photo/Branden Camp

Deputy Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Rep. Keith Ellison is blaming former President Obama, in part, for some of the Democratic party’s losses in 2016.

The Minnesota Democrat said that Obama “could have been a better party leader” at an event at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday.  “The fact that he wasn’t has put his legacy in jeopardy,” Ellison said.

Ellison, despite being “a great fan of President Obama” and voting for “many of the things he supported,” criticized Obama, saying that he should have paid closer attention to party politics and engaged more with Democratic leaders to help protect their positions in office, and thus protect his legacy.

“His legacy is the work he’s done, which I believe is tremendous,” Ellison said. “But given we lost a lot of statehouse seats, governorships, secretary of states, his true legacy is in danger, and I think he can’t say that he wasn’t part of those losses. I mean, who else?”

Democrats lost the presidency in 2016 to Donald Trump, and they also failed to retake the Senate and to win back more seats in the GOP-controlled House. At the state level, there are currently 33 Republican governors, and 24 of those states also hold a GOP majority in their statehouses.

Ellison was recently appointed as the DNC second in command by new Chairman Tom Perez, who succeeded acting chairwoman Donna Brazile. Brazile was installed as acting chair after former Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to step down at the Democratic National Convention in July 2016.

“He’s great at getting himself elected but should’ve worked much more closely with Congress, and I think in 2014 we had record low voter turnout,” Ellison said of Obama.