Meet the Lawmaker: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), 5th District

What’s the best thing about Washington?
The chance to help your neighbors and improve the quality of their lives.
 
What’s the worst thing about Washington?
Being away from family.
 
What do you consider to be your biggest political achievement?
I think I’ve more or less established a base on which I can pursue an agenda that’s going to help working-class people and promote peace. So, for example, I got some provisions to pass into law to protect kids from lead and that supports my agenda on environmental sustainability. I was part of the group that helped increase the minimum wage, which I’m proud of. And that helps working-class people.
 
If you were stuck on a deserted island, which of your colleagues would you want to be stuck with?
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.). I think she’s fantastic.
 
How many autographs do you sign a year?
Way too many. More than I ever have in my life. I’m surprised anybody wants my signature for anything other than a check, but there you go, that’s the job.
 
What’s the craziest constituent request you’ve received?
Somebody asked me if I could be there for the birth of their child. I told them I didn’t think that would be appropriate.
 
What’s your favorite hobby?
Probably reading. I’ve been reading a lot of books on economic justice, like Elizabeth Warren’s book, The Two-Income Trap; Jeff Faux, who wrote a book called The Global Class War; and I just got done reading a book on philosophy called On Time and Being, by Heidegger. So I read a lot.
 
The one thing I cannot tolerate is …
Cynicism. Can’t happen. Can’t work. Won’t work.
 
My favorite place in the whole world is …
At home, with family.
 
After a long night of votes, how do you unwind?
Read and go to sleep. I don’t hang out and party. Sometimes I’ll exercise, so I can keep up energy and fight fat. Usually I’ll run around the Capitol because these hills are great. The hills are killer. I love them. And Minnesota’s pretty flat.