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Rep. Ellison pitches voters as Bernie Sanders campaign hones in on MN

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Presidential campaign ads are sweeping through Minnesota TV sets ahead of next week's caucuses – including a new one that features one of the state's U.S. representatives.

Keith Ellison is the main focus of a new ad from the Bernie Sanders campaign, which you can watch right here:

In it, he urges voters to "get out and caucus" for the Democratic presidential candidate, while going over one of the Sanders campaign's main themes, namely higher wages for workers.

The ad was posted on YouTube four days ago, and it has also started airing on Twin Cities television stations.

Ellison, the Democrat representative for Minnesota's 5th Congressional District (which includes Minneapolis and the areas just to the north, west and south), threw his support behind Sanders back in October.

He said the Vermont senator "has demonstrated a willingness to push for progressive ideas that will help American families and restore balance to our economy."

Ellison, as CNN noted recently, is the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus supporting Sanders. Last week, Ellison pushed back against claims from fellow Rep. John Lewis that he never saw Sanders at key Civil Rights incidents in the 1960s.

"He didn't see Bernie Sanders because Bernie Sanders was doing fair and open housing in Chicago – that's why he didn't see him," Ellison told CNN. "No matter how good your eyesight is – if you are standing in Alabama, you can't see people in Chicago."

Sanders has been portrayed as struggling to connect with black voters in the U.S. Vox just wrote about it, as did Fortune.

One recent poll from Gallup found nationally, 82 percent of black Democrats had a favorable view of Hillary Clinton, Sanders' opponent for the party nomination. That same poll found just 53 percent of black Democrats have a favorable view of Sanders.

Meanwhile the Star Tribune has an in-depth look at Sanders' and Clinton's focus to try to win over black Democrats in Minnesota.

New focus on Minnesota

Political Ad Sleuth – a joint venture of Free Press and the Sunlight Foundation – keeps a running tally of ad campaigns purchased by presidential candidates.

Broken down to Minnesota only, there have been dozens of ad buys from both Sanders and Clinton in the past week. Most are focused in the Twin Cities, though the Mankato, Duluth-Superior and Rochester markets are also represented.

Earlier this month, Politico detailed how Sanders has put a lot of muscle into wooing Minnesota voters ahead of the caucuses – a state "long accustomed to being a presidential primary season also-ran," the story says.

There are a couple of reasons:

One, the Sanders campaign sees the state's voter demographics (namely, progressive and predominantly white) as "perfect" for his message. They also believe winning Minnesota (and other northern states) can counter expected wins for Clinton in the south, Politico says.

Minnesota's caucuses will be on March 1, also known as Super Tuesday – that's when more than a dozen states will hold primaries or caucuses for one or both parties. The goal for candidates is to win the support of their party's voters, which help them earn delegates and can lead to becoming the official nominee.

Real Clear Politics has a running tally of how many delegates each candidate has won as a result of caucuses and primaries – Clinton is ahead 502-70, mainly due to super delegates (of which she has 451 to Sanders' 19 right now). A candidate needs 2,382 total delegates to get the nomination.

Clinton and Sanders will be vying for 77 delegates in Minnesota. You can find where to vote in the Minnesota caucuses by going here, to the Secretary of State website.

A Star Tribune poll released last month asked Democrats in the state who they would prefer to see win the nomination. Former Secretary of State Clinton was ahead of the Vermont Sen. Sanders, 59 percent to 25 percent (with a margin of error of 5.7 percent).

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