Calliope, Part Three — Minnesota CD5

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When incumbent Keith Ellison jumped into the race for attorney general, that meant there would be a free-for-all for his seat in Congress. In my mind, this race becomes the most interesting race of this cycle, because it will tell us a lot about where the metro DFL really is these days.

If the DFL is still sane, Margaret Anderson Kelliher will be the obvious choice. The former speaker of the Minnesota House and 2010 endorsed DFL candidate for governor, Kelliher is a reliable liberal but. . . how do I put this? She's a recognizable political type, the earnest liberal who is willing to talk with conservatives. She would represent CD5 much in the way Ellison's predecessor, Martin Olav Sabo, once did. Kelliher is about the best one could expect out of the district. But she has plenty of competitors. Patricia Torres Ray has been in the state Senate for a dozen years now and hasn't done a lot to make a difference there, but she'd not embarrass anyone. Then there are two candidates who represent the two sides of Ellison. Ilhan Omar, a Somali immigrant with an, ahem, interesting past, was just elected to the House in the last cycle. She seems to have a lot of push behind her candidacy, as she carries Gov. Mark Dayton's endorsement. Then there's state Senator Bobby Joe Champion, an Ellison protege with a trail of ethics investigations in his past, along with two other minor candidates. On the Republican side, there are candidates, including the endorsed candidate Jennifer Zielinski, but Republicans aren't going to win CD5.

So what happens? The motivated group wins. Kelliher would be the smart choice for the district and for Minnesota, but I would not be surprised if Omar wins. Advantage -- Margaret Anderson Kelliher.