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Hot Dish politics: DFL to meet Sunday to sort out endorsement for Ellison’s seat

The endorsement is functionally a symbolic gesture, since all five candidates will appear on the Aug. 14 primary ballot no matter what happens. But official party backing still confers some status in the heavily Democratic Fifth District, which includes all of Minneapolis as well as St. Louis Park, Edina, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and other nearby suburbs. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison has represented the district since 2003 but decided this month to run for state attorney general. That set off a scramble among would-be successors, including three with some experience at the State Capitol: former House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, state Rep. Ilhan Omar and state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, all of Minneapolis. The other two candidates filed to run as DFLers are Jamal Abdulahi of Minneapolis, president of a health care information startup and the founder of the DFL Somali-American Caucus, and Frank Nelson Drake of Edina, a Realtor who was the Republican candidate against Ellison in 2016. There are three candidates in the Republican primary: Jennifer Zielinski, an Allina Health employee who got the party endorsement; Christopher Chamberlin, a St. Anderson Kelliher, president and CEO of the Minnesota High Tech Association, served six terms in the state House from 1999 to 2010, including two as speaker. She was the DFL-endorsed candidate for governor in 2010 but lost the primary to Mark Dayton. Though a relative newcomer to state politics, she's had national media attention for her story of coming to the U.S. as a refugee and becoming the first Somali-American to serve in any state legislature. Torres Ray, the first Latina to serve in the Minnesota Senate, was first elected in 2006.