Keith Ellison Wins Minnesota Attorney General Primary While Facing Abuse Accusations

The Democratic congressman moves ones step closer to becoming the first Muslim statewide elected official in U.S. history.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) won the Democratic primary for Minnesota attorney general on Tuesday, days after he was publicly accused of domestic abuse.

The deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee bested Minnesota Rep. Deb Holstrom, former county prosecutor Tom Foley, Minneapolis attorney Matt Pelikan and former state Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman to clinch the party’s nomination.

Ellison has denied allegations that he physically and verbally abused ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan, as first publicly alleged by her son in a Facebook post published Saturday. Monahan has since accused Ellison, whom she dated for several years until 2016, of emotionally abusing her, as well as dragging her off a bed.

“I never behaved this way, and any characterization otherwise is false,” Ellison said Sunday in a statement.

Ellison’s victory Tuesday night brings him one step closer to becoming the first Muslim statewide elected official in U.S. history, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Ellison, 55, announced in June that he was giving up his congressional seat to run for attorney general. He was sworn into the House in 2006, making him the first Muslim to serve in the chamber. 

The Minnesota lawmaker received endorsements from several high-profile figures and organizations leading up to the race, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Vice President Walter Mondale, Democracy for America and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

“As your next attorney general, I will continue that work and fight to protect the rights and freedoms of all,” Ellison told The Star Tribune in July. “Minnesotans will know that they always have a fighter on their side.”

Ellison is one of the staunchest progressives in Congress and has been an outspoken advocate for affordable health care, reproductive rights and worker and consumer protections.

His congressional tenure wasn’t totally without controversy. He faced a backlash in recent years over his past support of the Nation of Islam and its anti-Semitic leader Louis Farrakhan, though he stated in 2016 that he “disavowed them long ago, condemned their views and apologized.”