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First Muslim in Congress?

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    ISLAMIC CONVERT WINS HOUSE NOMINATION He Would Be First Muslim in Congress Martiga Lohn, Associated Press, 9/14/06
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 5, 2006
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      ISLAMIC CONVERT WINS HOUSE NOMINATION
      He Would Be First Muslim in Congress
      Martiga Lohn, Associated Press, 9/14/06
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/13/AR2006091302297.html


      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.


      Democratic congressional nominee Keith Ellison greets residents of the
      Cedar-Riverside high-rise in Minneapolis. Ellison is favored to win
      office.
      Democratic congressional nominee Keith Ellison greets residents of the
      Cedar-Riverside high-rise in Minneapolis. Ellison is favored to win
      office. ( - By David Joles -- Associated Press)
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      "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.

      Somali voters -- many voting for the first time -- appeared energized
      by Ellison's candidacy. Election official Hashi Abdi said he had to
      tell several people to leave their Ellison signs outside the polling area.

      "A lot of the Muslim community have a lot of sympathy for this guy,"
      Abdi said.

      Though Ellison was the party's endorsed candidate, the lure of the
      safely Democratic seat drew plenty of challengers willing to test him.
      In the end, though, he handily beat his closest rival, Mike Erlandson,
      by about 10 percentage points. Erlandson is a former chief of staff to
      the incumbent, retiring Rep. Martin O. Sabo (D-Minn.), and had Sabo's
      support.

      Ellison will be a heavy favorite in the November election, when he
      will face Republican Alan Fine and the Independence Party's Tammy Lee.
      In the 2004 election, about seven in 10 voters backed Sabo and voted
      for Democratic Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry for president.

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