The selection of Keith Ellison as the Democratic candidate in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District is being treated as something of a curiosity around the country. Ellison defeated former Democrat State Party Chair Mike Erlandson, former State Senator Ember Reichgott Junge, and current Minneapolis City Councilman Paul Ostrow in the September 12th primary election.
Ellison, a two-term DFL (the Democrat Party in Minnesota is known as the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party) State Representative from Minneapolis, is catching notice because if elected he would be the first black Congressman from Minnesota, and the first Muslim elected to Congress.
On the left in Minnesota, Ellison is being lauded as the new Paul Wellstone, a fiery speaker unafraid to speak truth to power. But in more mainstream circles, Ellison's victory is seen as a troubling indicator that the DFL here has lost touch with its mainstream roots.
Rep. Ellison first caught notice in Minnesota as a defender of gang leaders in Minneapolis and a local organizer for Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March. He was a defender of Kathleen Soliah, recently convicted for her involvement in the assassination of a police officer while she was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army. He is also a supporter of Mumia Abu Jamal and Assata Shakur, both convicted of killing police officers. Over the years, he has advocated racial separatism, reparations for slavery, and led chants at rallies proclaiming “no justice, no peace.”
In short, Ellison is nothing if not a radical.
Unfortunately, Ellison’s victory in the primary was no anomaly here in Minnesota. While Democrats might be comforting themselves with the idea that Ellison’s victory in one of the Bluest of the Blue districts in the country means little, a quick look at the state of the DFL shows otherwise.
Consider these facts:
1. In just the past year, Senator Dean Johnson, the Majority Leader of the State Senate, was taped lying to a group of ministers about improper conversations he claimed to have had with members of the Minnesota Supreme Court — conversations that never occurred. Ethics charges were filed; an investigation of the Supreme Court Justices ensued exonerating them. Johnson was forced to admit that he “sanded off the truth.” Yet the DFL members of the State Senate unanimously reaffirmed their faith in Johnson as their leader.
2. State Representative Matt Entenza, former Minority Leader in the State House and the DFL-endorsed candidate for Attorney General, was forced out of the race when it was revealed that he had spent tens of thousands of dollars secretly conducting opposition research on the DFL candidate for Governor (and current Attorney General) Mike Hatch. After denying the allegation for months, the Star-Tribune newspaper uncovered the truth. Entenza had repeatedly lied about the issue to reporters over a period of months, dooming his candidacy.
3. DFL Candidate for Congress Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent who was named one of Time’s Women of the Year in 2002, has become something of a bizarre gadfly. She joined Cindy Sheehan in protesting President Bush last summer and is pushing for the establishment of a new “Department of Peace” at the Federal level.
4. DFL Candidate for Congress Wendy Wilde (Wendy Pareene, in reality) is a former Air America radio host who made a name for herself by suggesting that the reason Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was so conservative was because he didn’t get enough oral sex from his wife.
5. DFL candidate for Secretary of State Mark Ritchie helped lead the protests in Seattle against the World Trade Organization. Ritchie’s candidacy is being pushed by the Political Action Committee of the Communist Party of the USA.
6. Attorney General Mike Hatch, the DFL Candidate for Governor, is currently under a cloud of controversy generated by his improperly calling a judge in a case and threatening him. This is not the first case of Hatch using intimidation to get his way. Earlier this year Hatch was chided by a judge, noting that defendants in a case were “good people [who] were unfairly accused” by Hatch.
In short, the case of Farrakhan Muslim Keith Ellison running for Congress is not an aberration, but part of a larger pattern of a Party that has lost its way. It is exhibiting both an ideological drift toward radicalism, and a pattern of ethical lapses that threaten to undermine its chances of victory in an otherwise promising year for electoral gains.
DFL candidates have shown a willingness to lie and intimidate in order to gain victory at any cost, coupled with increasingly radical goals to remake society in the image of a leftist utopia.
It would be surprising indeed if Minnesotans decided that this party is ready for power.