Why I’m running as a write-in candidate for the 5th Congressional District

There are some things that are too important to sweep under the rug. That’s why when I saw U.S. Representative Keith Ellison on the final day of filing for election switch to run for Attorney General, rather than his current seat, I was at once taken aback and intrigued.

I admit it looked like a backroom deal between him and Ilhan Omar—one Muslim saving the seat for another Muslim. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Somali community. And, Ellison once spoke when I was director of the Youth Development League to the participants, at no charge. I appreciated that. And his politics mirror mine. But, the way he handled the filing on June 5th—on the last day of filing—was unfair to the people of the 5th Congressional District.

The 5th District deserves the best candidate possible for the job and, right now, I don’t see where Omar, Jamal Abdulahi, Margaret Kelliher, or Patricia Torres Ray are the best options. Omar, for one, has been invisible as a State Representative. Let her first show her mettle in the job she was elected to in 2016.

The “first Muslim” deal played well in the mass media, but now Minnesotans have already shown they’re fair in that respect. Now, we can move on to other concerns. Notwithstanding that, news reporters can get lazy and write the easy, feel-good stories. I’ve been a news reporter. I know the business.

The other candidates, meanwhile, haven’t shown any groundbreaking initiatives in their political careers. They’ve basically done business as usual in this state.

Let me tell you about myself. I worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily Defender newspaper and in radio news before accepting a MacArthur Fellowship in international studies at the University of Minnesota in 1997. Although I worked for a short time for Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH in Chicago, I feel a strong kindred spirit to the Martin L. King movement and realize there’s some unfinished business our elected officials have overlooked in this new era.

To say Black kids, in 2018, are being shortchanged in the education system is an understatement. And I’ve dug up some primary source investigative reporting information that genuine reporters can have a field day with. There’s been a cover-up of epic proportions concerning Black history that needs to be addressed by the Department of Education and I feel I’m the man to go to Washington and address this encompassing issue and its implications. It’s a much bigger deal than people realize.

I’ve worked on this issue for some time. And, believe me, the quality of life for everyone in Minnesota will be enhanced more rapidly when the unfinished business of merging the full history of Black people with world history is accomplished. What will emerge is a more sophisticated and confident Black populace, as the lampooning of the 20th century is put to rest.

In 2011, when the Egyptian Pharaoh King Tut exhibit came to the Science Museum of Minnesota, I was the communication chair of the local NAACP. I spearheaded a campaign to get the museum to depict the Black boy king in his likeness on its billboard displays. Instead, they continued with sterile displays of ancient Egyptian jewelry and the mainstream press also failed to follow up on the salient story. Black media did address the issue, but now’s the time for it to go mainstream. And I’m the candidate who can make it happen.

Telling the truth about Black history will step on the toes of the status quo, but when it’s all said and done, we can move forward on a firm foundation, as a leader in democracy and freedom.

Last week, I sought the endorsement of the Green Party and officials welcomed me with open arms. I’m a longtime advocate for a green 21st century for planet Earth. And, like Jesse Ventura’s Reform Party win, I believe the good people of Minnesotans, when they see the substance of my campaign, will rally behind us and “shock the world.”


Les Lester is a journalist and author of the novel The Awakening of Khufu. He welcomes reader responses at 612-978-7559.