Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) listens to testimony as Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) testifies to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary in Washington, Jan. 18, 2017. Reuters

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., has called on influential independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who nominated Ellison for the Democratic National Committee head, to rally his followers in support of the party in the wake of a Republican takeover.

Sanders is expected to take on a more visible role in the 115th U.S. Congress. After losing the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and with the victory by Republican Donald Trump in November, the Brooklyn-born Democratic Socialist has managed to remain a symbol of anti-establishment change for liberals and leftists. Sanders has been openly critical of the Democrats' outreach policies, and, despite not officially being a member of the party, was selected to lead its outreach efforts shortly after the election.

Ellison's appeal to Sanders and his supporters comes as more centrist figures such as former President Barack Obama and Sanders' Democratic presidential primary rival Hillary Clinton have looked toward Labor secretary Tom Perez as the next DNC leader. Sanders has censured the party for concentrating too much on wealthy and elite sectors of society and ignoring the rural population, which largely went for Trump in last year's election.

While Sanders has expressed support for Trump's efforts to tackle institutional problems in Washington and big business, he has also summoned his followers to large rallies in opposition to Trump's efforts to dismantle federal assistance programs such as Obamacare without providing any alternative. At Wednesday's confirmation hearing, Sanders grilled Trump's pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, on her wealth and connections, asking the billionaire if she thought she would be have secured Trump's nomination had it not been for her money and prestige. Sanders also interrogated Trump's choice for environmental secretary, Scott Pruitt, over his skepticism toward climate change and Trump's health secretary, Tom Price, for opposing universal healthcare.

Sanders, who will be 79 years old for the 2020 Election, has not officially ruled out another shot at the presidency. His influence in other areas of the party, however, has already begun to show. Sanders' backers reportedly flooded the usually quiet California Democratic caucuses earlier this month, seeking to influence the state's party leadership. With over 8 million on record, California has the most registered Democrats of any state in the U.S.