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If Rep. Ellison steps down, a Minneapolis special election next year

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."

State Sen. Scott Dibble would run if Ellison steps down to serve as DNC chair

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison's offer to step down from his congressional seat if he's selected as the next chair of the national Democratic Party has already produced its first potential candidate to replace Ellison: state Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis.

Dibble confirmed Monday he would run if Ellison were elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, saying he would only do so if Ellison stepped down.

"If Keith decides to step away from Congress, I am prepared to and will run to fill his seat," Dibble said. "I am prepared to and will build on his outstanding work as a movement builder and generator of progressive ideas to improve people's lives. Until that times comes, I will continue to support Keith as my Congressman."

Ellison is vying for chair of the Democratic Party whose leadership is reeling from major electoral defeats last month. He is campaigning hard to convince enough voting members of the DNC to pick him as their next national leader. It's a time-consuming job as it means the public face for Democrats and leading fund-raising and strategy efforts for national elections.

Dibble praised Ellison's qualifications for the job, saying the national party "needs a new direction, with an emphasis on grassroots voter mobilization and expanding opportunities for everyone."

Just elected to a fifth term, Dibble is currently Senate Transportation Committee Chair, although he will join his DFL colleagues in the minority once the new Legislature starts next month. He also served one term in the Minnesota House.

He was legislative sponsor of several high profile bills that became law in recent years, including allowing same-sex marriage in Minnesota, an anti-bullying bill and the state's medical marijuana program.