At an event organized by the Somali American Community, a non-partisan organization in Minnesota, US Congressman Rep. Keith Ellison campaigned for fellow democrat, Al Franken, in his meeting to an electrified crowd of Somali-Americans.
Ellison declared that his “first two years in Congress were just to set a foundation” but that he is now experienced and can move things forward. “I need more friends in the Senate and Congress … honestly, we are in a good shape this time but I need you to help me get Al Franken elected to the Senate” he said.
Ellison talked to the crowd about his close relationship with the Somali community and their empirical role in his last election. Somalis are said to have helped Rep. Keith Ellison defeat his 2006 election rivals, Tammy Lee (IP), Alan Fine (R), and Jay Pond (G) by about 30%. “You have graciously given me your votes and trust and I am very grateful and proud to serve as your representative,” Ellison said.
In speaking against Franken’s opponent Republican Senator Norm Coleman, Ellison said, “He has voted with President Bush almost always and that he hasn’t done anything to advance peace in the Middle East or Somalia.”
A Rasmussen poll taken on Tuesday night has Coleman leading Franken 43% to 39% in the hotly contested seat for the US Senate. Independent candidate Dean Barkley has 14% of those surveyed, while 4% are undecided.
Regarding Somalia, Ellison told the attendees that he is concerned about the political situation in Somalia and has been studying and working to bring peace to Somalia and the region. He said “Aside from the other information available to me as a representative, I have been advised by the senior representative and the African Sub-committee chairman Rep. Donald Payne, officials from the region and many friends from the Somali community.
He continued, “I met the deputy speaker of the Kenyan Parliament, Farah Maalim and other officials in my short visit to Nairobi this year.”
“I want you be patient … as the power of dripping water could move a mountain, we will, Insha Allah, find peace for Somalia,” Rep. Keith Ellison assured the crowd.
In September, Ellison introduced H. RES. 1424, a bill supporting accountability for abuses in Somalia. This bill is currently pending as the country deals with elections and the ‘economic melt down’.
Among the many community leaders in attendance was Abdullahi Ugas Farah, a prominent Somali traditional leader. Farah is visiting the U.S. to inspire Somalis to help their native country and talk with American officials about the real intricacies of the Somali crisis. “I am here to encourage my people to help reconstitute their country and tell American leaders about the true nature of the situation in my country” he said.
Addressing Somali-Americans, Abdullahi said “because we know and trust his intentions, you must help Rep. Keith Ellison in order for Keith to be helpful to the situation in Somalia, you must also elect Al Franken to the senate.”
Engineer Hassan Mohamud “Hassanow” told Mshale that he was encouraged to see the Somali issue get traction. “I am not only going to vote for both Rep. Keith Ellison and Al Franken … Actually, I am going to vote for them tomorrow” said Mr. Hassanow.
An estimated sixty to eighty thousand Somalis have recently, beginning in 1991, have immigrated to Minnesota and quickly became an important part of the voting block.