Rep. Keith Ellison leaving Congress to run for Minnesota attorney general

Rep. Keith Ellison is withdrawing his bid for re-election to Congress and will run for attorney general of Minnesota,...

Posted: Jun 5, 2018 7:13 PM
Updated: Jun 5, 2018 7:13 PM

Rep. Keith Ellison is withdrawing his bid for re-election to Congress and will run for attorney general of Minnesota, he announced on Tuesday.

He will stay on as deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic sources tell CNN, putting to rest rumors he might also leave that post.

"Today I am announcing my candidacy to be the People's Lawyer," Ellison said in the first of a series of tweets, "and to protect and defend all Minnesotans as your next Attorney General."

The decision follows discussions with his top advisers on Monday night, which come amid the congressman's frustrations with Congress as well as being DNC chair Tom Perez's understudy, sources say.

Perez on Tuesday afternoon issued a statement commending Ellison's DNC work and calling him "a friend" and a "born leader."

"I have come to know Keith as someone who is passionate about finding every possible way to help the greatest number of Americans achieve a better quality of life," Perez said. "And I have witnessed that passion in every single decision he has made, including whether to continue the fight in Congress or to run and serve as Minnesota's chief law enforcement official.

Ellison declined to confirm that he was considering a run for attorney general as early as Tuesday morning. Politico first reported the news on Monday night. The filing deadline is Tuesday.

Ellison, who has been in Congress since 2007, ran for DNC chair in 2017, hoping to represent the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He lost that race to Perez but was brought into the DNC to work as the former labor secretary's deputy.

Though that endeavor has included outreach to liberal grassroots organizations and building connections between groups that once felt excluded by the DNC, Ellison has bristled at some of Perez's decisions, most recently his decision to endorse New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over actress and activist Cynthia Nixon.

Ellison, sources say, has also grown tired of Congress, feeling that the legislative body gets little done. Meanwhile, Democratic attorneys general around the country have become political stars in the Trump era, leading court challenges to some of the administration's most controversial policies.

"No one -- not even a President -- is above the law," Ellison said, turning his attention to President Trump in a statement. "From immigration reform to protecting our air and water, it has never been more important to have a leader as attorney general who can stand up against threats to our neighbors' health or freedoms."

The Minnesota Attorney General's race is already a crowded affair, but Ellison's entry would likely make him the frontrunner due to his ties to the liberal grassroots and name recognition.

Democrats in Minnesota days ago voted to endorse activist Matt Pelikan for attorney general over incumbent Attorney General Lori Swanson.

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