Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)
Swalwell’s victory last November cost the Progressive Caucus a staunch liberal in Pete Stark, and Ellison hopes to fill the lost seat with another one. “We will lean on him [Swalwell] to do progressive stuff and make him declare to be on our side,” Ellison told The Citizen, but added that if Swalwell doesn’t play well with the progressives then he is open to replacing him. Ellison said he didn't have anyone in mind that he would like to see run against Swalwell but Democratic State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett will be Swalwell's likely challenger in 2014. Furthermore, no specifics were given about who the Progressives would support for Congress in California. In addition, Republican House seats in California and abroad will be prime targets for Progressives, said Ellison. Half of the House seats lost by the GOP majority last year came in California.
Ellison is the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus and local Rep. Barbara Lee, is the caucus’s whip. In addition, South Bay Progressive Rep. Mike Honda, who may be facing a younger re-election challenger in Ro Khanna in 2014, is the vice chair.
Rep. Eric Swalwell
Most of the fundraiser event was Ellison discussing progressive politics, the importance of grassroots organization and his history as a young American disillusioned with politics until he came to believe that change could be made through public service. Ellison was the first Muslim to be elected to office in 2006 and his district borders with Rep. Michele Bachman’s district who falsely linked Ellison to the Muslim Brotherhood. Ellison also won plaudits from Progressives two weeks ago while appearing on Fox News commentator Sean Hannity's show, when he called the host, "the worst excuse for a journalist I've ever seen."
Shane Bond is an East Bay Citizen contributor.