MN: ISLAMIC CONVERT WINS HOUSE NOMINATION
MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 13 -- State lawmaker Keith Ellison didn't let questions about his past slow down his campaign to become the first Muslim in Congress.
On Tuesday, voters responded to his liberal message calling for peace, withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and universal health care. He beat three contenders in the Democratic primary in a Minneapolis-area district long dominated by his party.
"You're not on your own," Ellison told supporters at an African restaurant in a speech that had the call-and-response of a revival meeting. "We are with you. We do these things together, y'all, and we don't let nobody break us apart."
Ellison, a 43-year-old criminal defense lawyer who converted to Islam as a college student, overcame questions about late parking tickets, overdue taxes and his past ties to the Nation of Islam. He has since denounced black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan and was endorsed by a Minneapolis Jewish newspaper. He has also pledged to improve his personal recordkeeping.
Ellison courted the liberal wing of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party by comparing himself to the late senator Paul D. Wellstone -- and many voters responded. Others clearly relished the chance to elect a minority to Congress from Minnesota for the first time; Ellison is black.