MINNEAPOLIS – A Democratic candidate for the Minnesota House ended his campaign Sunday, hours after he tweeted that the Islamic State group "isn't necessarily evil" and its members were doing what they thought was best for their community.
Dan Kimmel, 63, announced the end of his bid for office on his campaign website and Twitter account. He said Saturday evening's tweet was in response to a statement made during a candidate debate, not in response to Friday's violent attacks in Paris that left more than 120 people dead and more than 350 wounded.
He said his tweet was poorly worded and didn't convey his intent.
"The tweet was stupid. I'm sorry," he said in his statement. Kimmel did not return a message left Sunday by The Associated Press. His wife referred a reporter to the online statement.
Kimmel, of Burnsville, sent a tweet Saturday that said: "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." He was criticized on social media, and sent out another tweet later that said: "I deplore the evil acts of ISIS. I do not defend their acts."
The original tweet led House Minority Leader Paul Thissen to call for Kimmel to apologize and immediately end his campaign, saying Kimmel's comment doesn't reflect the views of the House DFL caucus.
"We all mourn the loss of innocent lives in the horrific attacks on Paris and in other atrocities committed by ISIS around the world," Thissen said Saturday in a statement. "They are the embodiment of evil, and to state otherwise is an affront to those who've lost loved ones at their hands."
DFL chairman Ken Martin also sent out a statement condemning Kimmel's comments and asking him to apologize.
Kimmel said Sunday that the attacks in Paris and elsewhere are "cowardly and despicable." He said he condemns the Paris attacks and all violence, and his heart is with the people of France and families of those affected.
He also apologized to those who have invested time and money in his campaign, and said he was sorry for "spreading ick" on other candidates and 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.
Kimmel, who works in the technology and operations section at U.S. Bank, was challenging incumbent Drew Christensen, a Republican from Burnsville. Kimmel had lost the seat to Christensen last year.