Minnesota Democrat quits run for house after tweeting that ISIS isn’t evil

Flowers are seen placed in holes from bullet impacts on the facade of one of the attack sites in Paris, November 15, 2015. © Jacky Naegelen
A Democrat candidate for the Minnesota House abruptly ended his campaign shortly after tweeting what many took as defending the terrorist group Islamic State. The group is believed to be responsible for last week’s massacre in Paris, France.

“ISIS isn't necessarily evil. It is made up of people doing what they think is best for their community. Violence is not the answer, though,” Dan Kimmel, 63, wrote on Saturday in the now-deleted post.

Hours later amid a storm of online and offline fury over the tweet and after strongly-worded criticism from his Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), Kimmel announced he would no longer run for the office.

"The tweet was stupid. I'm sorry," he said in his statement.

Kimmel said the tweet was meant as a response to a statement made during a candidate debate and not a comment on the attacks in Paris, which claimed 129 lives and left more than 350 people injured.

The Democrat said the Paris attacks were "cowardly and despicable" and condemned them. He also expressed his condolences to the people of France and the families of all the victims.

He also apologized to his supporters and to other members of the DFL party.

"I will do everything I can to help resolve the issue: most likely the best thing for me to do is shut up," he said.

Before dropping out of the race, Kimmel had been challenging 22-year-old Republican incumbent Drew Christensen of Burnsville. Kimmel lost the seat to Christensen in 2014, by 12 percentage points. He had previously served two four-year terms on the Lockport Township High school board of Education in Illinois.