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Ellison Rules Out MN Senate Run
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has reportedly decided not to pursue the Senate seat in Minnesota that will soon be vacated by Al Franken.
The Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Commitee, Ellison has become a hot new name in the party but now it appears he will step aside and clear the way for Minnesota Lt. Gov Tina Smith to run for the seat. Smith will be appointed to fill out the rest of Franken’s term, but had originally not been keen on making a run of her own. That has apparently changed and the Democrats appear to be behind her candidacy.
Ellison congratulated Smith on being named to the Senate in a Facebook post:
“Congratulations to my friend Tina Smith on her upcoming appointment to the U.S. Senate. Tina is a progressive champion who will be an extraordinary senator for the people of Minnesota. She has my full support both now and when she runs in the 2018 special election.”
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the open seat may also draw out a Republican heavyweight.
It remains to be seen if Smith’s entry in the ‘18 race will clear the Democratic field in the race to replace Sen. Al Franken, who is resigning soon. The special election next year could also draw a big name on the Republican side, with former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s name in the mix.
Minnesota has drifted more toward being a solid blue state in recent years, so it’s not a presumption to believe Smith would be a favorite over most Republican contenders. Pawlenty would represent a formidable challenge though that could see the race come down to the wire. Either way, this is a seat Democrats can ill-afford to lose if they hope to wrestle away control of the Senate from Republicans in 2018–especially now that the Doug Jones victory has given them a clear path to doing just that.