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Amid allegations, Ellison easily wins DFL primary for attorney general

Allegations of abuse against Rep. Keith Ellison did not appear to have much impact on his run in the DFL primary for attorney general, though his opponent this November, GOP nominee Doug Warlow, wasted no time bringing up the charges as an issue in the fall election. 

Keith Ellison speaking to supporters after his victory in the primary.
MinnPost photo by Mike Dvorak

Allegations against U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison that came to light the weekend before the primary election did not appear to have much impact on his run for attorney general.

Ellison easily won the DFL primary and will face GOP nominee Doug Wardlow in November. Ellison took nearly 50 percent of the DFL vote against four opponents and topped his closest rival, state Rep. Debra Hilstrom, by 30 points.

Those numbers are similar to the polling that was done on the primary matchup before a former girlfriend of Ellison’s, Karen Monahan, reported alleged emotional and physical abuse by the congressmen. The charges first came to the public attention Saturday night when Monahan’s son Austin posted them on Facebook. While Monahan said she hadn’t planned on naming Ellison, she supported her son’s decision. Ellison has denied the allegations and said he would speak in more detail about them soon, though nothing has yet been scheduled by the campaign.

At least one national women’s group, UltraViolet, called on Ellison to both end his campaign and resign from Congress.

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Ellison made a quick appearance Tuesday at the Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan election night party in St. Paul. He was greeted with applause and cheers as well as handshakes and hugs.

Wardlow wasted no time in bringing up the allegations against Ellison as an issue for the general election campaign. “I think there are very troubling allegations of domestic abuse, very troubling,” he said from Duluth, where he had stopped by Pete Stauber’s congressional campaign headquarters. “I think it makes it very difficult for Mr. Ellison to make the case that he should be the state’s top law enforcement official.”  

“His [law] license is on voluntary inactive status so he can’t currently practice law in Minnesota,” he added.  “I think the person running for attorney general should be an attorney in the state where he’s running.”

Ellison’s campaign said that he went on inactive status after joining Congress and that members are not permitted to practice while in office. He is expecting to activate his license once he completes an additional eight hours of continuing legal education credits.

Cyndy Brucato contributed to this report.