Sunday, November 3, 2013

Anyone For Congress, 2014

The 2013 Minneapolis Mayor’s race, with its 35 candidates, has been a circus, which makes it all the more surprising that Keith Ellison has been totally absent from the fray.

Six candidates sought the DFL endorsement, which ended up going to no one. A few candidates dropped out, some more jumped in, and more than a handful of “top-tier” DFL candidates remain.

After Tuesday, most (or all!) of these candidates will not be the next mayor of Minneapolis. I would like to encourage each and every one of these candidates to seek the DFL endorsement for US Congress in 2014.

Minneapolis is in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District. The Congressional seat is currently being warmed by Keith Ellison, who is nearly universally recognized as a joke.

Ellison is utterly ineffective at his job. Every one of the DFL candidates for Mayor would be a better Congressperson than Keith Ellison. Yes, even Mark Andrew.

In 2012 I was a volunteer staffer on the campaign of Chris Fields, Ellison’s Republican challenger.

During that campaign we heard from a number of prominent Democrats, including several elected officials, that Ellison is deeply disliked within the DFL community, because he is more interested in building his own celebrity than serving his district. They are constantly frustrated by Ellison doing nothing to represent them, then taking credit for other people’s hard work when the cameras are present.

However each of these stories was quickly followed up with a “don’t tell anyone I said anything and if you say we met I’ll deny it” type disclaimer.

Because the other thing that is universally known about Ellison is that he is vindictive.

As Fields liked to put it- “I get it, it’s like trying to stab Caesar. Great if it works, but If you miss, you’re done.”

After Tuesday’s election there will be a half-dozen or so Minneapolis Democrats who have a campaign organization, a volunteer and donor database, and name recognition built up that can easily be transitioned into a Congressional run.

It’s telling that Ellison has been a non-factor in the race for Minneapolis Mayor. He famously (infamously?) offered an unsolicited endorsement of Anthony Weiner for New York City mayor earlier this year, but has been silent on his preferred candidate in the city he pretends is his home. It’s not clear if any of the campaigns even asked for his endorsement.

I’m a Republican, but I’m also a realist. I’d love to have a Republican representing the Fifth, but the odds (and district lines) aren’t in our favor. That doesn’t mean that we’ll stop trying.

But until then, Minneapolis and its suburbs deserve representation in Washington DC, something that they don’t have today.

So, Minneapolis Mayor runners up: Anyone for Congress, 2014.