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Keith Ellison on Wednesday urged Democrats to reset the future of their party by electing him as its next chairman, and promised he’d use the leadership position to recapture voters the party lost in last month’s election.

“What if we started talking to everybody?” Ellison asked at an event with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in Washington at the American Federation of Teachers headquarters.

Ellison said the Democratic Party needs a makeover to bring it closer to the grassroots and expand its reach beyond traditional liberal constituencies. He made his pitch just before Labor Secretary Tom Perez was expected to announce his bid for the same job.

Perez is scheduled to speak to state party chairmen during a Thursday conference call. He’s backed by about dozen of those chairmen who are worried that Ellison lacks the experience to raise money and organize the party on a national level in preparation for 2018 and 2020.

“Sec. Perez has much broader experience in areas we’re going to be facing,” Texas Democratic Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa told the Washington Examiner in an interview. “He ran agency that’s huge. He brings to table additional skills to table we need to rebuild the party.”

But Sanders, as he introduced Ellison Wednesday evening, said the Democratic Party needs a wholesale overhaul to remove it from the clutches of elites and put the power to run the organization in the hands of everyday people.

“Our first step is to transform the Democratic Party from a top down party to a bottom-up party,” Sanders said. “Clearly, whatever the leadership of the Democratic Party has been doing over the last many years has failed and we need fundamental change.”

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