Keith Ellison for District 5

Ellison deserves a chance to prove himself in Congress.

When outgoing 26-year House veteran Martin Sabo announced his retirement earlier this year, many expected that the DFL-endorsed candidate would glide easily to victory in his seat, which has long been a Democratic stronghold in the state delegation. Instead, we’ve seen the race shape up to be one of the most controversial of the season.

The direction this campaign has taken is a sad reminder of the state of politics in America, where a salacious sound bite is often considered a substitute or even improvement on a serious debate about the issues.

We are endorsing Keith Ellison because his track record in the state Legislature shows that he is dedicated to fighting for the well-being of all Minnesotans. While in the state House of Representatives, Ellison fought for homeless outreach, increasing support for our schools, raising the minimum wage for the first time in eight years and fighting cuts to local government aid, including the police forces that we need to keep our streets safe.

Meanwhile, Ellison’s opponent, Republican Alan Fine, has been more interested in slandering him than talking about the issues, howling about terrorist ties that anyone can see are patently false and attacking Ellison not on his record as a legislator, but as a person, calling him unfit for office, an extremist and an anti-Semite. This kind of character assassination in political campaigning is unwelcome in our state.

While Tammy Lee of the Independence Party has run a quality campaign, we feel that Ellison’s leadership qualities and dedication to social justice, which have reminded more than a few people of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, make him a better choice.

Representative Ellison has given his critics some of the fodder for their attacks, with messy campaign finances, unpaid parking tickets and filing taxes late. These are serious issues, and, if Ellison wants to stay in Washington, they cannot happen in the future. But Ellison offers far more promise than either of his opponents and we believe he will do well there.