WASHINGTON -- If Rep. Keith Ellison steps down from his Congressional seat to run the Democratic National Committee full-time, a primary and a special election will take place in 2017, Secretary of State officials said Monday.
Since next year is an off-year, the office would have to organize both a special primary and a special election for voters to choose another person to serve in the post. Gov. Mark Dayton would ultimately pick the dates, but the special election would have to be between 20 and 24 weeks from the day Ellison vacates his seat. A special primary must be held 11 weeks before the special election, according to state rules.
Ellison, a popular member of Congress who was just re-elected to his sixth term by more than 70 percent, left open the possibility over the weekend that he would vacate the seat to take the top job at the DNC -- a concession to voting DNC members who worry that a full-time member of Congress won't have the time or energy to devote enough resources to the job.
The previous chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was also a member of Congress from Florida.
If Ellison did leave his post, it would set off spectacular jockeying among DFLers in Minneapolis who would vie for the job -- a nationally known DFL stronghold. Already, people are throwing their names out as possible contenders.
Ellison said he was going to continue to talk to voting DNC members about the decision and he hadn't made any further comments through the weekend or Monday.
His spokesman Brett Morrow said: "Keith believes wholeheartedly he has the energy and ability to serve in Congress and as the chair of the DNC at the same time. He wants to continue having conversations with DNC members about different leadership models."