Keith Ellison, liberal stalwart in House, will run for attorney general of Minnesota


Rep. Keith Ellison, a leading figure among progressive Democrats in the House, filed Tuesday to run for attorney general of Minnesota and won’t stand for reelection to Congress.

Politico reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere tweeted out the news, adding that Ellison will keep his role as deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, where he has been a significant voice for liberals in the Democratic establishment.

An article in Politico earlier this year described Ellison, in his sixth term, as having “grown listless and bored in the House.” Ellison’s relationship with DNC head Thomas E. Perez has also been described as uneasy. An economic populist who speaks with candor on political and cultural issues, he sometimes deviated from the party’s carefully crafted line.

News of an attorney general run comes after a wild weekend for Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota, as the state’s Democratic organ is known. During a weekend convention, the DFL endorsed state representative Erin Murphy as its gubernatorial candidate, but only on the seventh vote. Sitting state attorney general Lori Swanson encountered tepid support from DFL delegates and chose not to seek re-election and enter the primary for the governorship instead.

 

The DFL-endorsed candidate for attorney general is Matt Pelikan, 36, who is openly gay. Ellison, 54, is a Muslim African-American. He is wildly popular in his Twin Cities district, which he won in 2016, he won re-election by 47 points. If he becomes attorney general he would be the first Muslim in such a post, at a time when President Trump’s ban on travelers from majority-Muslim countries is one of the most divisive political issues in the country.

More on Ellison:

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Rep. Keith Ellison announces DNC chairman candidacy
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Rep. Keith Ellison announces DNC chairman candidacy

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) speaks during the first session at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 25, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich)

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (C) stands on stage with his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders (R), and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) before speaking to supporters during a campaign rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, January 26, 2016.

(REUTERS/Eric Miller)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) is arrested by U.S. Capitol Police after blocking First Street NW in front of the U.S. Capitol with fellow supporters of immigration reform, on October 8, 2013 in Washington, DC. Last week, House Democrats introduced their own immigration reform bill.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., attends a rally with low wage federal contract workers on the steps the Department of Labor to call for the minimum wage be raised to $15 per hour, April 14, 2016.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., leaves a meeting with House Democrats in the Capitol Visitor Center, June 22, 2016. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at the meeting.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressman Keith Ellison speaks on stage during 'A More Perfect Union: Obama and The Racial Divide,' featuring Congressman Keith Ellison, Alicia Garza, Margo Jefferson, and Khalil Gibran Muhammad in conversation wiith Jelani Cobb during The New Yorker Festival 2016 at Acura at SIR Stage37 on October 9, 2016 in New York City.

(Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

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A sojourn in Minnesota could potentially strengthen Ellison for an eventual return to Washington. State attorneys general have risen to national prominence by challenging the Trump administration on immigration, environmental regulation and marijuana decriminalization. Virtually unknown until Trump’s election, California attorney general Xavier Becerra is now discussed as a potential presidential candidate. Until he was felled by sexual assault allegations, so was New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman.

Ellison would likely use the office’s broad prosecutorial powers to advance a populist agenda aimed at curbing the excesses of the banking industry, continuing his work on the House Financial Services Committee. He has also been a vociferous advocate for a lenient immigration policy, earning some criticism last year for comparing immigrants crossing into the United States illegally from Mexico to Jews fleeing Europe during the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany.

Ellison has also been a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a position he would cede if he returned to Minnesota. Told of Ellison’s decision on Monday afternoon, a senior aide on the Progressive Caucus was dismayed. “Kind of sucks for us at a federal level,” he said of Ellison’s likely departure. “He’s a real visionary and moral leader for progressive Democrats.”

Minnesota’s primary election is on August 14th.

More: Congressional lawmakers not seeking re-election in 2018

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Congressional lawmakers not seeking re-election come 2018
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Congressional lawmakers not seeking re-election come 2018
Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) 
Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
U.S. Republican Representative Darrell Issa
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-CA)
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA)

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas)

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) 

Rep. Dave Trott (R-Mich.)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)

Rep. John 'Jimmy' Duncan (R-Tenn.)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) 

(Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) 

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Washington)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico)

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio)

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Florida

Photo Credit: Getty 

Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Pa.

Photo Credit: Getty

Sen. William Larkin (R-NY)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) 

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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