Tuesday August 7, 2018
By John Croman
The battle to replace Congressman Keith Ellison has drawn four strong Democrats and a candidate who ran for the same office last time as a Republican.
MINNEAPOLIS -- In Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, five
candidates are battling to replace Congressman Keith Ellison in one of
the most reliably Democratic districts in the nation.
is comprised of Minneapolis and some surrounding suburbs, has been a
liberal stronghold for the past five decades. So, in effect, the winner
of the DFL primary Tuesday is virtually assured to take a seat in the
U.S. House next January.
The scramble for Ellison's seat started on filing deadline day in
June, when the six-term congressman decided to run instead for the post
of attorney general. That was a day after Lori Swanson, the incumbent
AG, announced she was running for governor.
Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher is the biggest name in the race. The
Mankato native spent 12 years in the state legislature, and currently
heads the Minnesota High Tech Association.In 2008, she pushed
through the transportation funding bill over Governor Pawlenty's veto,
by enlisting the help of six suburban Republican members. Two years
later, Kelliher won the DFL party's endorsement for governor, but
eventually lost the nomination to Mark Dayton in the primary.
"This is a really important time in our country's history," Kelliher told KARE and MPR.
will be holding the Trump administration accountable for the things
that they are doing, everything from rollbacks in health care and the
dismantling of entitlements, which is next on the agenda for this
administration, I want to protect things like Medicare and Medicaid,"
Rep. Ilhan Omar
Rep. Ilhan Omar
of southeast Minneapolis has captured national attention since 2016,
when she unseated 44-year incumbent Phyllis Kahn to become the first
Somali refugee elected to any state legislature.
Omar arrived in
the United States at age 12, and worked in a variety of private and
public sector jobs before running for office. She asserts her story
uniquely positions her to take on the rhetoric and policies emanating
from the Trump White House.
"As someone who's lived in the absence of democracy and has lived in a
military dictatorship as a young kid, I know what happens when tyrants
are given the opportunity to grow their power," she said.
Sen. Patricia Torres Ray
Patricia Torres Ray is a native of Colombia who worked as a Guardian ad
litem, a state ombudsperson for families and a child services
administrator for the Minn. Dept. of Human Services before entering
She has spent the past 12 years in the Minnesota Senate, representing southeast Minneapolis.
"I have served predominantly low income populations, communities of color," Torres Ray explained.
"I feel like those are the most affected families today under this administration."
an immigrant who arrived in the U.S. in 1987 speaking no English, she
has also focused on immigrant rights issues, such as the driving-only
driver's license for undocumented immigrants.
"I really have
lived the American dream, now I'm fighting for the American dream for
others," she said. "This is my life and I want it to continue to be my
life. I'm very thankful to Minnesota."
Voters cast their ballots at the Brian Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis on Nov. 8, 2016. Caroline Yang for MPR 2016
Abdulahi has played a key role as a political organizer in the Somali
community. But as an electrical engineer by profession, he worked on
fighter jet computer systems for defense contractors such as Lockheed
That's why he felt especially wronged when then-candidate
Donald Trump appeared to demonize Somali immigrants in his only campaign
rally in Minnesota in 2016.
"With large numbers of Somali
refugees coming into your state, without your knowledge! Without your
support or approval," Trump told a cheering crowd at MSP International
Airport, days before the election.
Abdulahi fled his war-torn, drought-stricken homeland of Somalia in 1992.
where I worked at Lockheed for eight years, and built mission computers
for F-35 and F-22 and F-62, giving American men and women the best
equipment possible, he stood about four miles from there and said,
listen Minnesota, the Somalis are your problem. And I'm like, 'You've
gotta be kidding me'!"
All four Democrats in the race support abolishing ICE and replacing
it with another agency. They also back universal background checks for
firearms, and would take part in attempts to impeach President Trump.
They also envision widening access to health care by moving away from the current private insurance model.
of those ideas sound good to Frank Drake, an Edina real estate agent
who's in the DFL primary this year, after running as a Republican in
"I'm going to be the first inner city congressman that will
allow -- that will work with this president, you don't have to like him
but you can just be neutral with the federal government," he said.
believes the United States should stop sending troops to conflicts in
the Middle East, and he's not a big fan of President Trump's proposed
border wall with Mexico. But he said Minnesota could benefit from it.
think if he wants that stupid wall, we should use Minnesota taconite!
Ship it down the Mississippi, there's a huge window of opportunity for
So why would a lifelong Republican run in the DFL primary? It may be his best chance.
The last Republican CD5 in Congress, Rep. Walter Judd, left office back in 1963.
The Minnesota Primary is Tuesday, August 14.
Reporter Tim Nelson of KARE 11's news gathering partner Minnesota
Public Radio (MPR) has created a complete list of candidate profiles and
interviews. You can find them on the MPR website.