State Rep. Keith Ellison won the 5th District Democratic primary Tuesday. His victory could bring the first black representative from Minnesota to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Muslim to Congress.
Jim Leinfelder, communications director for Ellison, said “buoyant euphoria” lofted through the room after announcement of the win.
“I’ve been to a lot of events like this and it’s hard to remember anything like this since (Sen. Paul) Wellstone’s first victory,” he said.
University professor Larry Jacobs, director of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs’ Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, said that in the 5th Congressional District, winning the primary is everything.
“The winner of the primary for the Democrats will almost certainly go to Congress,” Jacobs said.
Republican Alan Fine, the Green Party’s Jay Pond, and Independence Party endorsee Tammy Lee will face Ellison come November.
Democrat Martin Sabo left his office after 28 years, opening a spot for a new candidate to fill his shoes.
Ellison will continue to run a positive campaign of inclusion and peace, Leinfelder said.
“His success (Tuesday) is a testament to that,” he said. “The turnout was reflective of this guy’s ability to reach across any barrier you mention. There’s no other way to explain what happened (Tuesday).”
Ellison said he had received congratulatory phone calls from Mike Erlandson and Ember Reichgott Junge, two of his main opponents.
As Ellison accepted his victory, he said, “Peace must be the guiding principle of our nation.”
“We knew that you can win an election by going positive and staying positive,” Ellison said.
He said a caring nation provides for all its people.
“We don’t let nobody break us apart, we accept you as you are,” he said.
Political science senior Shez Cassim voted in the primaries because he became a U.S. citizen this year.
Cassim said he voted for Ellison because, “(Ellison) is a progressive black Muslim, which is different than the average white Protestant that usually runs.”
Cassim also said he respected the foresight Ellison had in opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.
Justin Henry, a political science senior, said he voted for Ellison because he strongly agrees with Ellison’s stances on the issues.
Ellison is against the war in Iraq, he has been clear about being pro-universal health care and he cares for the environment, Henry said.
Candidates react to Ellison’s victory
>> “We ran a very good campaign and we came in very strongly (especially in the) suburbs,” said Peter Brickwedde, campaign spokesman for Democrat Mike Erlandson. “I think this puts Rep. Ellison in very good shape for November.”
>> “We remain proud of our campaign and the young people that canvassed the neighborhoods in the 5th District,” said Paul Ostrow, City Council member and 5th District Democratic candidate. “I will certainly be supporting Rep. Ellison.”
>> “We’re done,” said Lori Jacobwith, campaign manager for Democrat Ember Reichgott Junge. “We’ve had a hard working campaign … (and) a pretty incredible candidate.”
Jacobwith said she was pleased that issues that matter to the 5th District, such as health care, were discussed over the past few months.
>> “We’re going to put the same effort in the general (election) that we did in the primaries, but we’ll do it even more now,” said Dave Colling, Ellison’s campaign manager.