Republicans hope that domestic abuse allegations against U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who is running for Minnesota attorney general, will bring down the rest of his fellow Democrats on the ticket.
Ellison has denied the allegations.
The D.C.-based outlet Politico reported last week on the Republican efforts underway to tie Ellison to Minnesota Democrats, with GOP operative Ben Golnik calling the allegations a "game changer."
We won't know until November, but it's unclear if Minnesotans will make decisions about whom to support for U.S. Senate, governor or other offices based on allegations against Ellison, especially if no new evidence against him emerges.
Recent history suggests voters are not inclined to punish a party for the wrongdoing of an individual candidate: Think of President Donald Trump's braggadocio about genital grabbing, for instance. It did not derail other GOP candidates. (Or Trump, for that matter.)
The DFL response to the Ellison situation — neither support nor opposition; wait and see; avoid appearing in public with him — has been informed by what happened to former Sen. Al Franken, DFLers told me last week. Senate Democrats threw Franken overboard after allegations of sexual harassment against him, and local DFLers fell in line. But in conversations I have had with the party's grass roots activists, some think Franken was treated unjustly and should have received stronger backing from his fellow Democrats.
Even if Ellison's not the veritable albatross that Republicans hope for and Democrats fear, there's no doubt DFL candidates would rather be talking about their message than about Ellison.
Meanwhile, Republican attorney general candidate Doug Wardlow tried to keep the pressure on last week, raising the issue of Ellison's law license, which is inactive.
An inactive law license would seem to be inconvenient for a sitting attorney general.
It's true Ellison has an inactive license, though he paid his dues in February. It's also true he has to do continuing legal education to get back to full status, but his campaign told me a couple of months ago he's been doing it this summer. Why inactive? The U.S. House ethics manual advises against practicing law while in Congress: "Under the Ethics Reform Act, Members and senior staff are prohibited from engaging in professions that provide services involving a fiduciary relationship, including the practice of law ..."
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If the DFL wins the Minnesota House majority, Rep. Melissa Hortman would become the new speaker of the House, and a race is on for majority leader. I heard three names recently: Ryan Winkler, who is seeking to return to the House this year after a hiatus; Rep. Dave Pinto, a prosecutor who represents St. Paul; and Jamie Long, who is a deputy chief of staff to Ellison but would be an unusual first-term majority leader.
J. Patrick Coolican 651-925-5042 Twitter: @jpcoolican email@example.com