Keith Ellison is counting on every vote.
As the U.S. House representative of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District for the past 10 years, Ellison’s district was known for pulling higher than average voter turnouts, even when going in far ahead in the polls and when outcomes were foregone conclusions. In his bid to become Minnesota’s next attorney general Ellison is again trying to personally engage every voter, which is obviously a greater geographical task.
Since announcing his candidacy in June and winning the DFL primary in August, Ellison has been crisscrossing the state, traveling to places such as Duluth, St. Cloud, Rochester, Albert Lea, Mankato, Faribault, and Northfield, Morgan, Moorhead, Grand Marais and other locales. He has been talking to voters about issues that resonate with rural voters such as farming. He has also been talking about the environment, workers’ right, fair housing, healthcare and prison reform. And though he has been touring the state delivering his message, he recently made it clear he has not forgotten the birthplace of his political career – North Minneapolis.
Ellison met on Sept. 25 with several community members in the church basement of New Salem Baptist Church in North Minneapolis. The afternoon meeting was a discussion of wide-ranging topics, but the foremost message was Ellison will fight for the residents of North Minneapolis the same as he will for Minnesotans in the aforementioned communities.
“We’re going to respond where called upon (in the office of attorney general if elected),” said Ellison. “We’re going to have a strong outreach to keep communities engaged.”
While speaking with the group at New Salem, Ellison said he would offer a different approach to addressing issues of possible police misconduct.
“I don’t think local prosecutors should handle these cases,” said Ellison. “Local prosecutors have to rely heavily on local police so that’s a complicated ask when talking about going after an officer accused of crime. Local prosecutors should be removed from such matters.”
Ellison also called for an across-the-board retraining of Minnesota law enforcement.
“You can train somebody to be a guardian or how to be a warrior. Right now, officers have a warrior mentality,” said Ellison.
A fight Ellison said he’ll be at the front of is insuring patients’ rights to receive adequate and affordable healthcare.
“When I talk about healthcare the first people you should be thinking about is Black people,” said the candidate and co-chair of the Democratic National Committee. “When we talk disparities in care, Blacks are at the front of the line. When I talk about the environment I’m talking about Black people. Look at the lead problem in North Minneapolis. Lead in homes is one of the most dangerous environmental concerns to Black children and as attorney general I’ll be going after polluters and landlords who put our children in harm’s way.”
Addressing the opioid crisis gripping many Minnesotans, Ellison said he will go after companies who he believes are not doing their corporate, civic and legal duties to address the issues of addiction.
“(As attorney general) I’m going to sue Purdue Pharma,” said Ellison, speaking about the manufacturer of opioid, OxyContin. “And this issue of opioids is universal. It’s hitting all of Minnesota. There are no issues that are not Black issues.”
Ellison will face off against Republican Doug Wardlow in the Nov. 6 General Election.