Ellison wins 5th District seat

The Democrat defeated Alan Fine – a University professor – and Tammy Lee.

by Courtney Blanchard

When Martin Sabo retires after representing the 5th Congressional District for 28 years, Democrat Keith Ellison will take his place.

Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress and the first black representative from Minnesota, led Republican Alan Fine with about 55 percent of the vote as of 11:39 p.m. This was the first run for Congress for Fine, a lecturer at the Carlson School of Management, who received about 21 percent of votes.

Fine ran a sometimes-controversial campaign against Ellison, accusing him of past ties to leaders of the Nation of Islam and criticizing Ellison for accepting campaign contributions from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which allegedly supports terrorist organization Hamas.

Rabbi Chaim Goldberger is Fine’s rabbi and has known him for 10 years.

Though some criticized Fine for speaking out against Ellison, Goldberger said Fine believed it was necessary for people to make an intelligent decision.

U.S. Representative District 5
Results as of 11:39 p.m. Tuesday

Keith Ellison (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) …….. 55.48 percent
Alan Fine (Republican) …….. 21.49 percent
Tammy Lee (Independence) …….. 20.95 percent

“I think Alan went into this race to make an impact, and he did,” Goldberger said.

During Fine’s concession speech, his eyes glistened, but he spoke proudly of his experience.

“Just because we didn’t win doesn’t mean we can’t claim victory,” he said, with more than a dozen supporters behind him waving signs. His mother and 12-year-old son stood beside him.

Fine kept his speech positive and said the race was just a beginning, and after two years he will have a stronger, more united force to run again.

“I’m here to stay. I’ve found my home,” Fine said.

Fine congratulated Ellison on his win and also commended Independence party candidate Tammy Lee for making a “valiant effort.”

Ellison supporters, however, were jubilant to see him elected despite an intensely negative campaign against him.

Tammy Lee lost her bid to make history as the first female Independence Party representative in Congress.

Lee ran a strong campaign for a third-party candidate, and a KSTP-TV/SurveyUSA poll released Sunday showed Lee behind Fine 24 percent to 22 percent, within the 3.5 percent margin of error. The poll surveyed 806 “likely” voters.

As of 11:39 p.m. she had received about 21 percent of the vote.

Student reaction

Many University students devoted time to campaigning for the midterm elections and stayed up until the bitter (or sweet) end for the election results.

First-year student Connor Donegan expressed support for Lee and said he thought voters would regret their decision not to elect her.

“Four years of mediocrity,” Donegan said. “They’re going to realize they made a mistake.”

Ellison’s campaign roused many students, and some credit him for increasing turnout for the Sept. 12 primary in precincts around campus.

Jordan Deckenbach, a law student earning his master’s in public policy, hailed Ellison’s election.

“It’s an amazing day for sure,” he said. “He’s someone who’s committed to everyone in the 5th district. “The most exciting thing is he’s someone who brought one of the most diverse constituents together. He represents everyone.”

Brian Adamovich is a first-year law student at William Mitchell. Adamovich served as one of Fine’s deputy campaign managers, and said he’s kind of relieved the hectic election season is over, but that doesn’t mean he’ll get a break.

“I’ll take 12 hours off, and then someone else will be running for something,” he said.

– Elizabeth Cook and Katie Nelson contributed to this report.