Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is being proposed by leftists and progressivists as a replacement for fellow Democrat Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, who announced his resignation Thursday following multiple allegations of sexual harassment. According to CNN, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is considering Ellison, as well as Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Rep. Tim Waltz (D).
Among Muslims and progressives, Ellison is a favorite. Ellison, a convert to Islam, was the first Muslim elected to Congress. Among those endorsing him for elevation to the Senate is Linda Sarsour. Sarsour is a Muslim who is a leading figure among leftists, and an organizer of the Womens March on Washington that brought together thousands of feminists and leftists to the nation’s capital on the weekend that President Donald Trump was inaugurated. She tweeted on Wednesday, Keith Ellison would also be a great choice to replace Franken.” Journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted: “Keith Ellison for Senate: makes sense on so many levels.” Rose Ann DeMoro, leader of the National Nurses United, tweeted: It's time to draft Keith! Keith Ellison authored legislation to tax Wall Street, he's an ardent supporter of Medicare, and he fights for workers! Sign the petition for working-class hero Keith Ellison to fill the empty Senate seat left by Al Franken.
Also Ziad Ahmad, a Muslim activist at Princeton University, tweeted, “Al Franken has finally resigned. Who else is ready for @keithellison to be Minnesota's next senator?”
Ellison has been a frequent and vocal opponent of President Trump and Republican initiatives. He is the co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, a belongs to the Black Caucus and the Pro-Choice Caucus, among others. He has maintained a 100 percent rating from the pro-abortion NARAL Pro-Choice America, while in 2014 he old show host Bill Maher that he wished that the Democratic Party would oppose the Second Amendment. Ellison is also the co-chair of the Democratic Party, having received endorsements from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as the AFL-CIO.
Keith X Ellison
Ellison was raised in the Catholic faith by his parents, but converted to Islam while studying at Wayne State University in Detroit. He had an early affiliation with the Nation of Islam - a Muslim sect that is led by the controversial Louis Farrakhan. Ellison has claimed that he was never a member of the Nation of Islam, but admitted to an 18-month relationship with the organization’s Twin Cities chapter. He said that at the time he was “an angry young black man” who thought that Farrakhan was an ally but overlooked Farrakhan’s most incendiary statements because “when you’re African American, there’s literally no leader who is not beat up by the press.”
In 1995, under the byline Keith X Ellison, he wrote an op-ed in the Twin Cities black weekly Insight News that refused charges of anti-Semitism directed at Farrakhan. The use of X in his buyline is an apparent referral to Malcolm X (a.k.a. Malcolm Little, el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) -- a black political and religious leader of the 1960s whose detractors claim was an advocate of radicalism and violence.
In 1997, Ellison endorsed a statement again defending Farrakhan. When Ellison ran an unsuccessful campaign for the state house in 1998, Insight News described him as an affiliate of the Nation of Islam. Two organizers told Mother Jones magazine that they believed Ellison had been a member of the Nation. According to the magazine, Ellison was known to wear a bow tie in the company of dark-suited members of the Fruit of Islam, the Nation’s security wing. Male members of the Nation of Islam are known to emulate Farrakhan’s habit of wearing tailored suits and bow ties. The title of the Mother Jones article read: "Keith Ellison Is Everything Republicans Thought Obama Was. Maybe He’s Just What Democrats Need. To see how he might remake the Democratic Party, look at what he’s done in Minneapolis."
Leaders of the Nation of Islam contend that Ellison was a trusted member of their inner circle, regularly attending meetings and sometimes spoke in the stead of the study group’s leader, James Muhammad. It was not until 2006 that Ellison repudiated Farrakhan during his successful congressional campaign. He now considers the issue closed.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Ellison broadcast various theories about the incidents. Later, during the 2014 war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization, he wrote an article in the Washington Post calling on Israel to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip, which his critics claimed would give the terrorists easier access to weapons and aid. He has also been linked to the Council on American Islamic Relations, which in turn has been tied to Muslim terror organizations.
Ellison recently called President Trump a “racist” and voted with over 50 Democrats to impeach him.
Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.