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'Darfur 5' in Little Jeopardy of Losing Congressional Seats

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The arrest of Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison and four other members of Congress Monday morning for crossing a police line at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. brought front-page attention to the humanitarian crisis and atrocities occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan, but is not likely to bring any damage to the political careers of those involved.

The five Democratic members of the U.S. House arrested by the Secret Service on misdemeanor charges represent five of the safest congressional Democratic districts in the country.

In fact, Ellison, who set a Gopher State record last November for the largest margin of victory for a 1-term incumbent (48.9 points), actually had one of the closest races of the five U.S. Representatives.

Twelve-term Georgia Congressman John Lewis ran unopposed in his 12th district, as did 7-term James McGovern, who represents the 3rd CD in Massachusetts.

Two-term Maryland Representative Donna Edwards won over 85 percent of the vote in Maryland's 4th District, defeating Republican Peter James by 73.0 points in a race that also included a Libertarian candidate who received a nominal 1.1 percent of the vote. The race was a rematch for James, who had lost to Edwards in a June 2008 special election to fill the seat left by retiring Democrat Al Wynn.

Nine-term California Representative Lynn Woolsey carried the 6th District of California by a 47.4-point margin, winning 71.6 percent of the vote in her race against Republican Mike Halliwell and Libertarian Joel R. Smolen. Dating back to 1992, Woolsey has won her 9 U.S. House races by an average of margin of 36.5 points, including more than 44 points in each of the last three election cycles. Her 2008 race was the most lopsided victory in her Congressional career.

Overall, these five members of Congress have averaged over a decade of service in D.C. and enjoyed an average margin of victory of 78.6 points in last November's election.

2008 Margin of Victory for the 'Darfur 5'

District
Representative
Term
2008 MoV
GA-05
John Lewis
12
100.0
MA-03
James McGovern
7
99.5
MD-04
Donna Edwards
2
73.0
MN-05
Keith Ellison
2
48.9
CA-06
Lynn Woolsey
9
47.4
Note: Data compiled by Smart Politics.

According to an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Ellison stated his arrest and those of his colleagues was designed to call attention to the "appalling decision of the Khartoum government in Sudan to expel 13 relief agencies that are serving over 1.1 million people in the Darfur region."

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