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Bernie Sanders gets endorsement from Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison

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On the eve of the first debate among Democratic contenders for the 2016 presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders picked up the endorsement of a Minnesotan on Capitol Hill.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents Minneapolis in the House, said in a statement Monday that Sanders "... has demonstrated a willingness to push for progressive ideas that will help American families and restore balance to our economy...."

Ellison becomes the second member of Congress to endorse the Senator from Vermont. The other is Ellison's co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona. Sanders is the only Senate member of that caucus.

Ellison says he's worked with Sanders on causes including a higher minimum wage and a ban on private prisons. He tells MinnPost he plans to campaign on behalf of Sanders.

As the Pioneer Press notes, Ellison is the first prominent Minnesotan to back Sanders. Other high-profile Democrats – including both of the state's U.S. Senators – have endorsed Hillary Clinton.

While Joe Biden has made no announcement, CBS News reports sources close to the Vice-President say he is leaning toward entering the 2016 presidential race.

The network says recent polling shows a Democratic field including Biden breaking down this way: Clinton 33 percent, Biden 25 percent, Sanders 24 percent.

The Associated Press says Tuesday's debate will provide a chance for three lower-profile Democrats who are also in the race to make an impression that could help them catch up to the front-runners.

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