ST. PAUL — Three candidates are running for the position of attorney general of Minnesota, a race that is anticipated to be one of the most hotly contested in the state this election cycle.
Incumbent Lori Swanson, who made an unsuccessful bid for governor in August, is not seeking re-election. Swanson, a Democrat, served as attorney general since 2007.
The candidates include Democrat Keith Ellison, Republican Doug Wardlow, and Grassroots Party candidate Noah Johnson. The person elected will serve a four-year term and will be given an annual salary of $121,250.
Wardlow, 40, is seeking to become only the second Republican attorney general of Minnesota since 1955. The state’s last Republican attorney general was Douglas M. Head, who served only one term from 1967-1971.
Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Wardlow attended high school in Eagan. Following high school, Wardlow attended Georgetown University, graduating magna cum laude, eventually going on to earn a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
Wardlow has formerly served as a litigation attorney for a Minneapolis law firm, served as a law clerk for Justice G. Barry Anderson in the Minnesota Supreme Court, and a constitutional lawyer. He currently serves as legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal nonprofit based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Wardlow’s involvement with the nonprofit, which has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has been a talking point of Ellison’s campaign.
If elected, Wardlow said he will make standing up for the rule of law a top priority, as well as advocating for a safe, fair, prosperous and free Minnesota.
“As attorney general, I will protect consumers, fight financial scams, fight for lower health care prices, prosecute welfare fraud, fight sanctuary-city policies, crack down on opioid pushers, combat elder abuse, fight human trafficking, and stand with law enforcement to make Minnesota safe,” Wardlow said.
Democrat Keith Ellison, Wardlow’s primary opponent, brings with him a bevy of political experience.
A native of Detroit, Ellison, 55, was elected to his first public office in 2002, serving as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. In 2006, Ellison was elected to serve in the U.S. House, a position he is holding through 2018.
Ellison’s campaign has been mired in controversy since his ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, came forward in August with allegations of domestic violence against the congressman. In a prior incident, Monahan alleged that Ellison dragged her from a bed and shouted “(Expletive) you, bitch” and “I hate you.” Ellison has denied all domestic violence allegations.
If elected, Ellison said Minnesotans can expect a “people’s lawyer,” who will stand up for consumers, workers, farmers, seniors, students, and all Minnesotans over corporate special interests.
“As attorney general, I will fight for affordable health care, accountability for corporations that break the law, an economy that works for everyone, and equal rights and opportunities for everyone in our state,” Ellison said.
Johnson, 29, is a political newcomer running on the platform of marijuana legalization for the Grassroots — Legalize Cannabis Party.
As a third party candidate, Johnson, a criminal defense attorney, said he won’t be afraid to fight for what is right and reject big business and big politics.
“My campaign’s primary focus is marijuana legalization, an issue ripe to be addressed and would notably increase the proportion of justice and liberty in society, as well as foster public safety and decrease wasteful spending,” said Johnson.
On Monday, Oct. 15, Johnson announced that he was endorsing Ellison in his bid for attorney general because of his support of marijuana legalization.
Keith Ellison (Dem)
Family: Keith is the proud father of four children – Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Amirah.
Doug Wardlow (R)
Occupation: Constitutional lawyer
Family: Wife, Jenny; three children, ages 8, 6, and 2
Noah Johnson (Other)