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Hot Dish Politics

Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

Rep. Keith Ellison in tight race in today's vote to lead DNC

ATLANTA -- It was a day of pigeonholing and persuading here.

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison is in the final 18 hours of his bid to become chair of the Democratic National Committee. Ellison's chief competitor is Obama administration Labor Secretary Tom Perez, though another five people are vying for the position.

The hotel where the DNC winter meeting is being held is littered with campaign signs. The 400-some voting delegates wearing blue nametags that say "DNC Member" are moving in and out of conference rooms and caucus meetings. Even if they're wearing a button that proclaims who they are voting for -- green buttons that say "KEITH" or blue ones that say "TOM"  -- they will be collared by one of the candidates or one of the candidates' representatives to try and secure a vote or a change of heart before Saturday. 

By all accounts, the race has tightened between Ellison and Perez, both of whom have conference rooms on the 12th floor and both of whom are trying to convince as many voting delegates as possible they can win. DNC organizers predict multiple rounds of ballots in a contest that could stretch all day. There hasn't been a contested DNC race like this for chair since the 1980s.

To win, the victor must clinch the majority of the votes cast.

Ellison reportedly has New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio coming down here to help him this evening. And, possibly, Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon and Democratic House member from the Atlanta suburbs.

"It's a dead heat in a merry go around," deadpanned J.P. Barone, a voting member from White Bear Lake in Minnesota and an Ellison supporter.

Trump appears to accept invitation to visit Minnesota mine

President Donald Trump appears to have accepted an invitation by U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi to visit the company's mining operations in Minnesota, according to a video webcast of a meeting between Trump and several manufacturing executives.

As Longhi introduced himself and the company he represented, Trump quickly took credit for work he said his recent executive orders would bring U.S. Steel.

"You're going to be doing pipelines now, you know that," Trump said to Longhi. "We put you heavy into the pipeline business because we approved, as you know, the Keystone pipeline and Dakota, but they have to buy -- meaning steel, so I'll say US steel -- but steel made in this country and pipelines made in this country."

Longhi interjected at first, saying the company is already in the pipeline business. He dovetailed on an offer by Doug Oberhelman, former CEO and now executive chairman of Caterpillar, to drive one of the company's bulldozers. (To which Trump said, "I've been driving them a long time.")

Longhi told Trump that while he is driving one of the Caterpillar bulldozers, he should also "come up to Minnesota and our mines."

Trump accepted, though it's unclear if he was merely being polite. "Good. I'll do it. I'll be out there."

A White House spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment to confirm whether Trump would indeed travel to Minnesota's Iron Range.

Based in Pittsburgh, U.S. Steel has two mines in Minnesota. Minntac in Mountain Iron and Keetac in Keewatin.