- Associated Press - Saturday, February 18, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire’s Ray Buckley dropped out of the race for Democratic National Committee chair Saturday, throwing his support behind Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.

Buckley’s announcement comes a week before the DNC’s 447 members gather in Atlanta to choose a new leader. Ellison and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez are widely acknowledged as the front-runners, although several other candidates are also in the running.

Buckley said in an email that Ellison shares his commitment to reinvesting money in and strengthening state party operations to come back from national Democratic losses in recent elections. Buckley has chaired the New Hampshire Democratic Party since 2007.

“He knows elections are not won and lost in the beltway, but on the ground across the country. His plan, in fact, shared many of the same ideas and principles as my own,” Buckley said in the email to reporters and DNC members.

Ellison said in a statement included in the email that if he wins, Buckley will have a role in his planned “57 state strategy” focused on the state and U.S. territories.

In his bid, Buckley had pitched himself as the candidate who understood the nuts-and-bolts of state parties. Buckley is already the president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, giving him strong relationships with many DNC members that could be beneficial to Ellison’s candidacy.

“In this fight against Donald Trump and Republican-controlled states, we need every state party firing on all cylinders,” Ellison said. “That’s how we take our country back, and I cannot be more proud to have Ray Buckley by my side in this fight.”

Buckley is running for another term as chair of the state party. A spokesman for Buckley said more details on his role with the DNC will be released if and when Ellison wins the election next week.

The race for DNC chair has broken down largely as an extension of the presidential primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Perez has backing from former Vice President Joe Biden and others seen as representative of the party’s Clinton-Obama establishment core, while Sanders and many other liberals have lined up behind Ellison.


Associated Press writer Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed.

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