Republican Attorney General candidate Doug Wardlow is facing pressure over Islamaphobic fundraising mailers sent out by his campaign, as well as comments he has made about same-sex marriage comments in the past.
The campaign for Wardlow, who is bidding to become Minnesota's chief legal officer in November's elections, was denounced by clergy from four different faith groups on Thursday, in a press conference organized by the DFL.
It follows the distribution of fundraising mailers that links his Democratic opponent, Keith Ellison, to Islamist extremists, anti-Semites and terrorists, saying he "associates with known terrorists and radical Islamic groups dedicated to destroying America."
It describes him as a "friend" of The Muslim Brotherhood's noted anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, an association that Ellison has long-since disavowed.
It also falsely states that the Muslim American Society, which paid for a pilgrimage Ellison took to Mecca, is an "arm of the Muslim Brotherhood." The MAS is an independent organization.
On Thursday, KARE 11 reports that Pastor Laurie Eaton, of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, said: "It is unconscionable to tolerate or excuse such vicious language and falsehoods. I believe in a Minnesota where all are welcome."
"The recent mailers by Doug Wardlow are a significant departure from what America is all about," added Imam Asad Zaman, of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, added.
"It is because of rhetoric like this, people who were radicalized by rhetoric of this type, that a mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota was bombed."
In response to the criticism, Wardlow's campaign spokesman Billy Grant accused the DFL of trying to "change the subject after a member of their staff called for the beheading of Republicans."
"If they want to call anyone a bigot, they should look at their endorsed candidate, Keith Ellison," Grant told BMTN, once again referencing Ellison's former ties to Farrakhan.
"Doug Wardlow will protect and defend the rights of ALL Minnesotans regardless of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or creed."
Wardlow and the "Second Constitution"
The mailers will cause concern to Minnesota's minority populations, just like the release by the DFL of a recording of Wardlow speaking in 2013 will concern those in the LGBTQ community.
He says the U.S. Constitution is only designed for a "moral and religious people" and is "wholly inadequate for any other."
He then goes on to say that America and its institutions "have fallen ... because the second unwritten constitution has been all but destroyed."
He rails against the "radical left" for seeking to "redefine the marriage and undermine the family," adding: "But marriage is defined by a higher power than man."
In the same speech, the Star Tribune reports that Wardlow said: "You cannot have liberty without strong families. You cannot have liberty with marriage redefined to include homosexual marriage."
The release of the audio via the DFL-run Twitter account @TheRealDougWardlow has attracted attention from, among others, state Rep. Erin Maye Quade, who is married to a woman and posted the following tweet on Thursday.
During his campaign, Wardlow has been scrutinized for his previous work as an attorney for the organization Alliance Defending Freedom, which is noted for its anti-same-sex marriage views.
He has said that his work for the ADF was about fighting for free thought, free religion and free speech.
In his statement, Grant provided this explanation for the Wardlow 2nd Constitution comments.
"Doug was referring to a concept in jurisprudence called the ethic of legal obligation," he said.
"That is the basic concept that people should obey the law. Informed voters will see through this latest desperate attempt by Keith Ellison and the DFL to spread misinformation."
You can find the latest Minnesota Elections 2018 content in our Flipboard magazine.