Running Man

Keith Ellison, the DFL's endorsee for Congress in the Fifth District, has spent the summer countering attacks from Republicans—and Democrats. What made him everyone's favorite target?

Ellison doesn't either. But that doesn't mean he isn't ready for it. "The most valuable lesson I have learned in this campaign is that it is better to have a painful conversation than to avoid conflict. I've met with people disappointed in my approach to Palestine and people disappointed in my approach to Israel. But I look them in the eye and tell them what I believe and what I think is possible. Once we put horns on somebody, we can't deal with them. James Baldwin once said, 'Whatever can be faced, can be fixed.' And so I haven't turned down any meetings. And I have unhooked my emotional self from the outcome of this campaign.

"If I lose, I want it said it was because I wasn't willing to reach out a little further, or because I put myself in situations that allowed people to criticize me. It doesn't help folks in north Minneapolis to fold their arms and say, 'See—Keith tried it but it don't work.' Let me tell you, up or down, I am absolutely strong enough for this," he says defiantly. "If I become a civilian, I will go back to practicing law, getting people engaged, working with people around common problems. If I win—and I absolutely think I will win—same thing."

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