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Keith Ellison confirms he'll resign from Congress if he wins DNC chair

A successful Keith Ellison bid to become DNC chair would trigger a special election in the 5th Congressional District.
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Keith Ellison has confirmed he will resign from Congress if he wins the race to become chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Ellison, who represents Minnesota's 5th Congressional House District, is among the prominent names bidding to head up the DNC, and announced on Wednesday he will step down as a representative if he's successful.

"In order to further their commitment and maximize my effectiveness, I have decided to resign as a member of Congress if I win the election for DNC chair," he said in a news release.

"Whoever wins the DNC chair race faces a lot of work, travel, planning and resource raising. I will be 'all-in' to meet the challenge. I want to thank everyone who shared their views on this issue, and I want to thank Democrats everywhere for allowing me to move through my decision-making process."

"Democrats are ready for a massive comeback."

Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, initially suggested he could carry out both his DNC and House duties when he entered the race for the chair position last month.

If successful, his resignation would trigger a special election in Minnesota's 5th district, which covers an area including Minneapolis and several suburbs.

Ellison retained his district comfortably in last month's election. He received 69.2 percent of the vote – getting almost 250,000 votes – ahead of Republican contender Frank Drake (22.3 percent) and Independent/Legalize Marijuana Now candidate Dennis Schuller (8.5 percent), according to the Secretary of State's website.

In his announcement, Ellison says that since Donald Trump's election win and throwing his hat in the ring for the DNC chair position, he believes "Democrats are ready for a massive come back."

He has the support of fellow progressive Democrats including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

But his involvement in the race has seen him come under attack from opponents, who have dug up opinion pieces he wrote in 1989 and 1990 while studying law at the University of Minnesota, in which he defended the anti-semitic leaders of the Nation of Islam, Khalid Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan.

Ellison repudiated his support 10 years ago and has apologized on several occasions since. In a column he wrote for the Washington Post he says he "glossed over" the hurtful and divisive language Farrakhan used and admits he "neglected to scrutinize" their words.

"These men organize by sowing hatred and division, including anti-Semitism, homophobia and a chauvinistic model of manhood. I disavowed them long ago, condemned their views and apologized," he wrote.

The DNC chair will be decided the weekend of Feb. 24, 2017. For details on the election works, check out this Vox article.

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