MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Just hours before the Tuesday deadline, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison filed to run for attorney general.
The Democrat has been in Congress since 2007 and serves as deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee.
His surprise filing has produced political avalanche, as candidates scrambled Tuesday to jump into the race for his soon-to-be open 5th District seat.
Known for his progressive views and fighting style, Ellison joined the race for Minnesota Attorney General just hours before the filing deadline.
"I'm running for Attorney General to fight for fairness, liberty and to make sure our economy and our society works for everybody," he said.
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Democrats are swarming to the attorney general's race after current Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson abruptly decided to run for governor.
The party already has endorsed a candidate, Matt Pelikan. But now Democrats are stampeding to run against him.
State Rep. Debra Hilstrom, former Attorney General Mike Hatch and former Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman have all filed to run for the office.
Ellison's departure from Congress opened the floodgates for a rare open Congressional seat in a solidly Democratic district.
Joining the race Tuesday were former House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray and state Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Even Ellison's ex-wife, Minneapolis School Board member Kim Ellison, filed to run for the seat.
Mpls School Board member Kim Ellison running for MN-5 Congressional seat vacated by her former husband Keith Ellison. pic.twitter.com/XgwM6ySA0o
— Patrick Kessler (@PatKessler) June 5, 2018
As for Omar, she is a rising star among Democrats and the nation's first Somali-American legislator.
"I have proven myself to be someone who shows up, takes on the hard fight and delivers," she told reporters minutes after filing for the 5th District race.
Ellison's political profile is causing concern for some Democrats, who say he might be too liberal to win statewide.
But Ellison said he will be sharply focused on Minnesota.
"Everywhere across Minnesota, from Ely or Zumbrota or Minneapolis or St. Paul...You deserve to be fought for," he said. "You deserve to have somebody on your side."
Ellison is deputy director of the National Democratic Party. He says he will not step down or step back from that post.
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