A Burnsville DFLer's campaign for the state House abruptly ended Sunday morning within hours of him posting on social media that ISIS "isn't necessarily evil" and is "made up of people doing what they think is best for their community."
The Twitter posting Saturday by Dan Kimmel, coming as the world's emotions remain raw from Friday's terror attacks in Paris, brought swift rebuke from others on Twitter. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, called for Kimmel to give up his campaign.
"I'm folding up the campaign tent," Kimmel told the Star Tribune. He later issued a written apology and called his tweet "stupid," adding that it's probably best for him to "shut up" for the time being.
Kimmel said in the interview that the posting "was not interpreted as I intended. It was so badly misinterpreted." He added that he was dropping out of the race "to remove the ick" from his party.
On Saturday, Kimmel wrote on Twitter: "ISIS isn't necessarily evil. It is made up of people doing what they think is best for their community. Violence is not the answer, though."
The response on Twitter included rebukes and puzzlement: "What in the world are you talking about??!" and "Kind of like the Nazis, Stalin or Pol Pot," read two replies.
Kimmel, 63, tried to explain himself, posting in a follow-up, "I deplore evil acts of ISIS. I do not defend their acts." Kimmel's tweets also were posted on his campaign's Facebook page.
In further elaboration on Sunday, Kimmel wrote on his campaign's website, "My tweet last evening was in response to a statement made during the candidate debates, not in response to the activities in Paris. It was poorly worded and did not convey my intent.
"I do think the attacks in Paris … along with other ISIS terrorist actions are cowardly and despicable. My heart breaks for the people of France, of Paris, the families of those wounded or killed and the casualties themselves. … I condemn the attacks, as I condemn all violence."
Kimmel added that he wants to "apologize to the volunteers and contributors who have put so much time, effort and money into my campaign. … I will do everything I can to help resolve the issue: most likely the best thing for me to do is shut up. The tweet was stupid. I'm sorry."
DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said in a statement that Kimmel's "views … have no place in our party. On behalf of the Minnesota DFL, I strongly condemn his comments. I ask Dan Kimmel to apologize to all the families who have been torn apart by the terrorist organization and their senseless violence."
The statement did not explicitly call on Kimmel to quit the campaign. That came later, when the question was posed to Thissen on Twitter: "Will the MN DFL urge @KimmelDan to drop out of the race?"
Thissen replied: "Yes" and also said the same in a statement issued through the House DFL Caucus' communications director.
Before dropping out Sunday, Kimmel was challenging 22-year-old Republican incumbent Drew Christensen of Burnsville in the 2016 election. Kimmel lost to Christensen for the open seat in 2014, by roughly 12 percentage points.
Kimmel works for U.S. Bank in its technology and operations section. Before moving to Burnsville with his family in 1997, he was elected to and served two four-year terms on the Lockport (Ill.) Township High school board of Education.
The native Oklahoman received appointments to West Point and the Air Force Academy, as well as a full Naval ROTC scholarship to the University of Oklahoma. He entered the Air Force Academy in June 1970. In 1972, he transferred to the University of Oklahoma and graduated in 1974 with a major in economics, then received a master's in computer science from North Central (Ill.) College in 1991.