The Democratic National Committee's deputy chair is confident that Democrats will take back the House and the Senate during the 2018 midterm elections.
"We’re going to take the House, and we’re going to take the Senate," Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) said during a recent interview with the Atlantic.
Democrats will be defending eight seats in the House and 25 seats in the Senate, including seats in states where President Donald Trump won by double-digit margins in 2016: North Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, and Indiana. Florida is another contested seat where current Sen. Bill Nelson (D.) is "essentially unknown" to 49 percent of voters, according to a recent University of North Florida poll. Nelson has held office since 2001.
When asked if he was serious about taking back the Senate in 2018 given the number of seats Democrats have to first defend, Ellison said "it will be hard." He went on, however, to reference a specific race as reason Democrats can gain ground, criticizing Sen. Dean Heller (R., Nev.).
"It will be hard. But look at Nevada, Dean Heller doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. He doesn’t know whether he wants to protect health care or oppose health care," Ellison said.
Trump won 45.5 percent of the vote in Nevada, coming up short of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, who received 47.9 percent.
When asked if the DNC and Democratic candidates are moving to a more progressive or more establishment positions, Ellison argued that what some folks would label as "progressive" is what he would call "responsive government."
"There is more income and wealth inequality in this country than since the Great Depression. What some folks would label or call progressive is just responding to the economic realities of literally millions of Americans," Ellison said. "Sixty-three percent of Americans don’t know what they’d do if they had an unexpected $500 bill. So is it progressive to say they should be able to handle that bill? I don’t know, call it whatever you want, I call it responsive government."
Ellison went on to add that the DNC is "completely reversing" how the committee will strategize after the failed 2016 election, saying it is now focused on electing candidates from "dog-catcher to president."
"We’re completely reversing that model, and saying first of all we’re not in it just to win the election. We’re in it to win community. If we make people feel that we’ve got their back, and their party is there for them, the election becomes the easy part," Ellison said.
"If you look at the mission statement of the DNC prior to now, it would say our goal is to elect the president. Now our goal has changed," he added. "Our goal is to elect Democrats from dog-catcher to president and everywhere in between, and our primary tool is grassroots engagement."