My Number Seven Wish for the 2006 Elections
This post is part of a series listing my ten wishes for the upcoming election. Each day I will post one wish starting with number 10 and working my way up to the wish I desire most. Because we should think globally and act locally, you’ll notice a Minnesota slant to my wishes. If you’re a progressive or a liberal or a left-wing nut job from another state, I hope your wishes come true too. And now, without further delay, here’s today’s wish…
7. Keith Ellison wins the Minnesota Fifth District Congressional Race
Wishing for Keith Ellison to win the Fifth District Congressional race is about like wishing that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. It’s a forgone conclusion. But I wish for it anyway.
In March, one of Minnesota’s finest elected officials, Martin Sabo, announced his retirement. It came as a surprise to many. Soon thereafter, Democrats endorsed Keith Ellison to represent the party in its effort to keep the seat. Nearly every candidate who lost the party endorsement stayed in the race and ran again during the primary. Some pretty powerful party people turned their full attention toward knocking Ellison off during the primary. Mike Erlandson was the former Chair of the State DFL party (our name for the Democratic Party, it stands for Democrat Farm Labor) and had Martin Sabo’s support - he was his former Chief of Staff (In one of my favorite moments of this campaign season, The Minneapolis Star Tribune endorsed Erlandson. Later, after Ellison won the primary, a conservative letter writer argued that the paper is doing everything it can to elect Ellison!). He also beat out former State Senator Ember Reichgott Junge and City Council Member Paul Ostrow. Reichgott Junge was backed by tons of money from Emily’s List (I gave to Emily's List in the past, I’ll never give again). Ellison has been criticized for parking tickets, for delays in paying taxes, for articles he wrote as a student, for attending the million man march (Ellison is an African-American) and for his faith (Ellison is a Muslim). First it was by folks in his own party, and now is it by the second most disgusting candidate on the ballot in Minnesota this November, Alan Fine. Ellison’s issues: withdrawal from Iraq, single-payer health care, economic and environmental justice, etc., are hard to hear for all the negativity.
As an African-American male myself, much of the criticism pointed at Ellison felt like a subtle expression of how our society feels about African-American men in general. His opposition is far too sophisticated to state it directly, but something in the approach suggested a reservation not directed at the man himself, but at black men in general.
Nevermind, Ellison will laugh last. He’s going to win by a country mile. Very few people see Fine as anything other than a gadfly. Minnesota will have a wonderful Congressman, who happens to be African-American and Muslim, a man in the tradition of Paul Wellstone, for its Fifth District representative.