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After Keith Ellison won the primary for the nomination for Minnesota's heavily-Democratic Fifth Congressional district, one would have expected a hail of congratulatory statements from fellow party members. However, Minnesota Democrats appeared very cautious about associating with the former Nation of Islam officer as only a handful of his peers endorsed his candidacy in the election's aftermath:
Usually, everybody loves a winner.
But some Democrats had little to say Wednesday about DFL primary winner Keith Ellison, who seems to have a good chance to become Minnesota's first black congressman, and the first Muslim in Congress.
Among those who maintained their silence: Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., who has had a 28-year hold on the seat Ellison is seeking. Sabo was backing his chief of staff, Mike Erlandson, who finished second. ...
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., like Sabo, declined to comment on Ellison's victory in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, which is anchored by the city of Minneapolis.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi did not respond to requests for comment, although the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put out a statement calling Ellison a "strong voice" to continue Sabo's work in Congress.
Mel Watt attempted to run some interference for Ellison and cast Ellison's connections to Louis Farrakhan as innuendo. He told the press that Ellison is Muslim, he's Presbyterian, and none of it makes any difference. However, if Ellison has ties to Farrakhan's group, and it appears he does, then that history becomes very apposite indeed. Racial and religious bigotry should disqualify candidates for high political office among voters who want to endorse tolerance, regardless of the politician's party affiliation. Being an organizer for Farrakhan's Million Man March and then trying to disclaim any connection to the notorious anti-Semite and segregationist is simply not credible. In fact, as NPR points out, Ellison himself spent time arguing for separatist policies, writing a column for the University of Minnesota's newspaper while attending law school favoring Farrakhan's approach to race relations.
The Republicans will have a field day with Ellison's background. Power Line wrote a series of posts about Ellison and continue to add to that archive. The Star Tribune has Senator Norm Coleman, Minnesota's leading Jewish politician and a former Democrat, aghast at the spectacle of Ellison's primary win in MN-05:
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who is Jewish, said Ellison "clearly brings a troubled background" to the race and that "voters will have to judge that."It's not old stuff -- - it is who Mr. Ellison has been," said Coleman. "And I think folks in the Jewish community are going to have to look closely at that, with his associations with Farrakhan. The DFL is going to choose their candidate. But the people of Minneapolis, I hope in the end that they simply don't pull a lever because they're born and raised in a single-party."
National efforts to build a Democratic majority in the House will, in all likelihood, pass over MN-05. Nancy Pelosi has wisely remained silent on Ellison's candidacy, because it's a no-win situation for her. The district itself will probably not need national help to remain in Democratic hands, not unless Ellison's past politics and his penchant for ignoring parking tickets and tax bills start to take a toll in this normally secure district. The party will want to keep Ellison at arm's length while they count on him to hold the seat. It's duplicitous and it's hypocritical, but it will almost certainly succeed.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Minnesota Dems select former Nation of Islam organizer from Morning Coffee
We have all heard the hate filled rhetoric of Louis Farrakhan, now we may get to hear it on the floor of the US House of Representatives. Keith Ellison, won his party’s nomination for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional district despite his ties... [Read More]
Tracked on September 14, 2006 8:45 AM
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