- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Rep. Keith Ellison announced Tuesday that he is running for attorney general of Minnesota, vowing to be the “People’s Lawyer” and signaling an interest in using the courts to thwart President Trump’s agenda.

Mr. Ellison announced his decision hours before Tuesday’s filing deadline for candidates in Minnesota and opened up a battle to replace him in the U.S. House five months out from the midterm elections.

“No one — not even a president — is above the law,” Mr. Ellison said in his announcement.

“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 and freedoms,” he said.

Mr. Ellison, 54, who in 2006 became the first Muslim elected to Congress, previously flirted with running for the U.S. Senate and more recently attorney general, but he backed off, believing incumbent Lori Swanson would run again.

But things changed dramatically after Mrs. Swanson failed to secure the endorsement of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL) over the weekend and she announced Monday she was running for governor.

Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance in the Hubert H. Humphrey School and the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, said Mr. Ellison had been looking for another challenge after becoming frustrated with serving in the Republican-controlled House and as deputy vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

“It is not fun being in the minority in the House, which is basically a dictatorship of leadership,” Mr. Jacobs said. “His position at the Democratic Party sounds more impressive than it actually has turned out to be, and he has been pretty open in expressing his frustration with how little influence and control he has had in the Democratic Party in his position.”

Mr. Jacobs said Mr. Ellison, if he wins, could join a cadre of Democrats serving as state attorneys general who have fought Mr. Trump and his policies, including on the environment, immigration and health care.

“If you kind of look around the country there have been a handful of state attorney generals who have been leading the fight against Trump,” Mr. Jacobs said. “I think he will be part of that.”

Scott Will, executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association, said Mr. Ellison cannot be trusted as the state’s chief legal officer.

Keith Ellison will not defend the rule of law; he will not protect you,” Mr. Will said. “Ellison the Extremist is completely unfit to serve as attorney general of Minnesota.”

Mr. Ellison’s seat in the 5th Congressional District includes Minneapolis, and political handicappers say Democrats should be able to defend the seat. The state’s primary is slated for Aug. 14.

The field of candidates running for the party’s nomination for attorney general includes Matt Pelikan, a lawyer and activist who surprised political observers by winning the backing of the DFL on Saturday.

“I am running to be the People’s Lawyer to hold those in power accountable and to protect and defend all Minnesotans,” Mr. Ellison said Tuesday. “When Minnesotans are ripped off, they need a fighter on their side.”

Mr. Ellison is a liberal rock star. He has served as co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was an early supporter of Sen. Bernard Sanders’ insurgent presidential bid in 2016.

After the presidential election, Mr. Ellison placed second behind Tom Perez in the race to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee, drawing on strong support from grass-roots activists.

In a sign of party unity, Mr. Perez carved out a deputy chair position for Mr. Ellison.

On Tuesday, Mr. Perez said the DNC has been “lucky to have” Mr. Ellison, but stopped short of endorsing him in the Minnesota race.

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