Sanders and Ellison Get Grilled by Left-Leaning Groups for Supporting Pro-Life Democrat

Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison / Getty Images
• April 20, 2017 2:50 pm


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) faced criticism on Thursday from the liberal-leaning blog Daily Kos and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League for their scheduled event embracing Heath Mello, a pro-life Democrat running for mayor in Omaha, Nebraska.

Ellison, who serves as the Democratic National Committee's deputy chairman, is filling in last minute for DNC chairman Tom Perez, who will be delivering the keynote speech at the Democratic Party of Georgia's dinner in Atlanta on Thursday night.

NBC News reporter Alex Seitz-Wald tweeted on Thursday that Ellison is going to have a "fun day" substituting for Perez, who initially received criticism for previously being scheduled to campaign with Mello.

NARAL Pro-Choice President Ilyse Hogue published a press release on Thursday in which she called the DNC's endorsement of Mello  "disappointing" and "politically stupid"

"If Democrats think the path forward following the 2016 election is to support candidates who substitute their own judgement and ideology for that of their female constituents, they have learned all the wrong lessons and are bound to lose," Hogue wrote. "It’s not possible to have an authentic conversation about economic security for women that does not include our ability to decide when and how we have children."

Hogue went on to say that the Democratic Party and its leaders should know by now that "blocking access to legal abortion does not win you a single vote, and robs women of dignity and autonomy." She asserted that women are critical in resisting the Trump administration, so it is important that Democrats appeal to women voters in the 2018 midterm elections.

"The path the DNC ‘fight back tour' takes the party down will not help the party or our country if it turns its back on reproductive freedom. It will only set back women's fundamental rights and freedoms," Hogue wrote.

The Daily Kos also publicly released a statement regarding Mello on Thursday, rescinding its previous endorsement of the mayoral candidate. The publication admitted it was unaware Mello supported 2009 legislation in the Nebraska state Senate that would "require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound."

However, as soon as we learned this information, we withdrew our endorsement, because this legislation clearly runs contrary to Daily Kos' deepest values, including our support for women's reproductive rights and our staunch opposition to laws that in any way impede women's access to reproductive health care.

Daily Kos strives to ensure that all of our endorsements reflect the mutual respect we all expect and deserve, and we will continue to do so in the future.

Mello is still adamantly opposed to abortion, which puts him at odds with Sanders and the DNC platform.