Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) on Tuesday won his party’s nomination in his bid to be Minnesota’s next attorney general, days after the son of an ex-girlfriend accused Ellison of emotionally and physically abusing her.
Ellison, a six-term congressman who also serves as the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, defeated a crowded primary field for the position. Austin Monahan, the son of Ellison’s former girlfriend Karen Monahan, posted on Facebook on Saturday that he discovered a cache of messages and a video on his mother’s computer, which allegedly showed Ellison “dragging my mama off the bed by her feet, screaming and calling her” profane names.
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Ellison denied the allegations in a statement.
“Karen and I were in a long-term relationship which ended in 2016, and I still care deeply for her well-being,” Ellison said. “This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false.”
Monahan on Monday stood by her son’s account, tweeting “What my son said is true. Every statement he made was true.” She told CNN she would not release the alleged video.
Ellison had 53 percent of the vote with more than one-third of precincts reporting when the Associated Press called the attorney general primary. His closest opponent, state Rep. Debra Hilstrom, had 16 percent of the vote in the primary. Ellison jumped into the race late, after current Attorney General Lori Swanson lost the state party’s endorsement for reelection and decided to run for governor instead.
Before the abuse allegations came out and dominated the campaign, Ellison hoped to leverage his progressive bonafides and ran on a platform of using the attorney general’s office to challenge the policies of the Trump administration.
One of the defining issues of the primary, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, was whether the eventual winner should use the office of the attorney general to act as a backstop against contentious White House policies. Other candidates argued that the office should focus primarily on state and local issues.
Ellison was among a group of congressional Democrats who in March faced pressure from Republican officials and religious groups over ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and his anti-Semitic rhetoric.
At the time, Ellison told the Washington Post that the media’s concern with his ties to the controversial activist was not echoed by his colleagues. “I am telling you — no one cares,” he said. “I’ve been all over Minnesota, all over Alabama, all over Missouri, all over Pennsylvania and Connecticut, and nobody ever asked me about this.”
Ellison became deputy chairman of the DNC in February 2017 after narrowly missing out on the chairmanship, losing a contested race to former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Together, the two sought to present a unified front between the left-leaning and moderate wings of the Democratic Party.