The number two at the Democratic National Committee says President Obama is partly to blame for his party's massive loss of state houses and House seats.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, says Obama put his legacy in jeopardy by not paying attention to party politics while he was in office.
"Given we lost a lot of statehouse seats, governorships, secretary of states, his true legacy is in danger. And I think he can't say that he wasn't part of those losses. Who else, right?" Ellison said Wednesday at an event at the University of Minnesota.
Ellison praised Obama for his work on healthcare, Wall Street reform and equal pay but argued he could have done a better job of leading the Democratic party.
"Wonderful achievements. But Barack Obama could have been a better party leader, and I think the fact that he wasn't put his legacy in jeopardy," he said.
The Minnesota Democrat added that Obama served himself well in ensuring he could get himself elected but failed to work more closely with party leaders in order to preserve his legacy. He pointed to record low turnout in the 2014 as evidence that the former president was not engaged enough as he should have been with congressional leaders.
"He's great at getting himself elected but should've worked much more closely with Congress, and I think in 2014 we had record low voter turnout ... and I think that too really was a time when he needed to be visible and present and very engaged ... he needed to raise money for state legislative races," Ellison said.
Ellison's assessment comes as the Democratic party finds itself at a crossroads following Hillary Clinton's stunning loss and its failed efforts to hold on to its Senate majority while cutting into the GOP's majority in the House. Under Obama, Republicans saw substantial gains at the state level as the GOP now hold the governorship and state houses in 24 states.
The party's leadership is looking to transform the party and tap into the support Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., received and address criticisms that it has largely ignored the Rustbelt by embarking on a unity tour of that will take them to states like Kentucky. Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez kicked off the 10-day tour with Sanders Monday in Portland, Maine.