With a candidate filing deadline of 5:00 PM Central Time, speculation abounded as to what might happen leading up to the final whistle. And if you love great theater, you weren't disappointed.
A chaotic situation for Democrats in Minnesota, an epicenter of the 2018 elections, just became a bigger headache with a pair of late entries into statewide races — including DNC vice chair Keith Ellison, who announced he planned to run for state attorney general.
"It's a shitshow," said one Democratic strategist in the state of Ellison's decision Tuesday.
Upon entering the AG race, Ellison was promptly endorsed by Gov. Mark Dayton.
With Ellison not seeking reelection in the Fifth Congressional District, a total of eight DFLers filed on Tuesday to run in that party's primary. And there were a couple of names which really stood out. One in particular was MN House member Ilhan Omar (DFL-Minneapolis), who was the first Somali-American Muslim woman to become a legislator. Upon filing, Omar told a press gaggle that she looks forward "to carrying on the legacy of Congressman Keith Ellison." That seems like a pretty low bar given that Ellison himself has said “All there is to do is to vote ‘no'.”
Another familiar name which cropped up near the filing deadline was that of Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who was Speaker of the MN House from 2007 thru 2011. In 2010, she received the DFL endorsement for governor only to be defeated in the August primary by Dayton. Given that a wind-up set of chattering teeth could run in CD5 (which is about a D+22 district) and receive at least 50% of the vote, it would behoove any Republican voters in that district to work on behalf of the most palatable DFLer. If Anderson Kelliher is of the same moderate Democrat ilk as she was in the MN Legislature, the folks in the Fifth could do orders of magnitude worse than if she represented them in Washington.
Ideally I'd like to see Ellison defeated in the DFL primary for AG (he's one of six Dem candidates), thus effectively ending his career (for now) in electoral politics. But even if he manages to prevail in the primary, I'd pay good money to see him campaign outstate.
Some Democrats are skeptical that Ellison, despite his popularity in the ultra-liberal district he represents, can win a statewide race, said one party strategist. Ellison is further to the left of many in the state, which Hillary Clinton won only narrowly in 2016.
"Watching what’s going on in their party right now is like watching an episode of Survivor, with the tribal council where everything goes crazy, and everyone goes home," said Minnesota Republican Party chair Jennifer Carnahan. "Get out the popcorn and peanuts and decide what you’re going to eat first.”
I recently celebrated seven years of having my own political talk radio show. As you can probably ascertain, it's more fun now than it's ever been!