Minnesota's first Eritrean GOP nominee: Now you Sium, now you don't

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"Help me say, 'Obi won,'" was the campaign slogan for Obi Sium. The 65-year-old, Eritrean-born, retired engineer staved off a primary challenge from a fugitive sex offender to secure the Republican endorsement. But he didn't fare quite as well in taking on three-term Rep. Betty McCollum in the overwhelmingly Democratic 4th Congressional District. Sium garnered just 30 percent of the vote.


Despite this overwhelming defeat, Sium seemed ebullient on election night. "I'm not disappointed," he insisted, grinning despite having just given his concession speech at the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel. "I did the best I can with no money. If I had the money to get name recognition I would win."

Sium expressed disappointment that he didn't receive any financing from the national Republican Party, but insisted that he's not angry. "It's not a right," he said. "They have the right to give it to whoever they want. They're free. That's what America is about."

Sium, who came to the U.S. in 1973, said that he started out as a Democrat, but eventually discovered that his beliefs were more closely aligned with the GOP. "I'm pro life," he noted. "I'm strong on defense. I'm strong on individual rights and personal rights. I found that in the Republican Party. I don't find that in the Democratic Party."

Sium sounded ambivalent about taking another stab at electoral politics. "I will advocate one way or another," he said. "I don't rule out anything."

His campaign manager, however, expressed no uncertainty about a future run for congress: "The campaign starts now-2008."


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