Star Tribune endorses neither candidate in Minnesota Attorney General race

The newspaper says Doug Wardlow and Keith Ellison are too partisan for the office.
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Keith Ellison Doug Wardlow

The Star Tribune has taken the unusual step of not endorsing either candidate in this year's race for Minnesota Attorney General.

In an editorial published on Thursday, the newspaper says both DFLer Keith Ellison and GOPer Doug Wardlow would be too partisan with the AG's office, while both are struggling with troubling pasts.

"The 'least-bad' choice facing voters, along with the Editorial Board’s lack of endorsement, should spur introspection by both political parties as a major transition looms in the Attorney General’s Office," the newspaper's editorial board wrote.

Ellison has already stated that he sees the AG's office as providing a check on the policies of President Donald Trump, while an audio recording obtained by the Democratic Party revealed that Wardlow intends to "fire 42 DFL attorneys" if he's elected, despite his claims he would be "apolitical" in office.

On the personal side, while he continues to deny it, Ellison's campaign remains dogged by an allegation of domestic abuse by ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan, who says she has video of Ellison swearing at her and pulling her off a bed by her feet.

Ellison's past links with the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan have remained a talking point among opponents, and while the Strib notes that he has long since renounced those ties, his past affiliations with Farrakhan, with whom he was in the same room as recently as 2016, call into question his "personal judgement."

Other attack ads against Ellison have highlighted links with former gang leader Sharif Willis and domestic terrorist Sara Olson.

If you want to read more on these claims against Ellison, the Pioneer Press has done a good job breaking them down here.

As for Wardlow, the Republican was in the headlines recently because a former classmate, Ryan Durant, said he was bullied by Wardlow when they were at high school for being gay.

The bullying, which has been corroborated by several classmates who spoke to the Pioneer Press, led to Durant attempting suicide, and was allegedly mocked by Wardlow on his return to class.

Wardlow denies all of this took place, but nonetheless the Star Tribune says it casts doubt on his ability to provide "justice for all," particularly considering his past work for Alliance Defending Freedom, which opposes gay marriage. 

Wardlow's campaign has also been challenged for issuing Islamaphobic mailers against his opponent, while this week he has been challenged in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting over his campaign's previous invoking of Jewish businessman and left-wing activist George Soros.

It's a close race

The AG race is shaping up to be one of the closest in the state on Tuesday.

A Star Tribune/MPR News poll a few weeks back had Wardlow ahead of Ellison by seven points, but a KSTP/Survey USA poll released on Thursday has Ellison ahead by four. The margin of error is 5.3 percent, however and 12 percent of respondents were undecided.

In any case, anyone undecided about how to vote should do their due diligence into each candidate.

Wardlow's campaign site is low on detail but makes some promises about how he intends to run the AG's office, cracking down on welfare fraud, saying he will "stand with law enforcement" and will pursue a "Minnesota First" agenda.

Ellison meanwhile says he intends to uphold the Affordable Care Act and hold insurance and pharmaceutical companies accountable, protect Medicaid from potential federal cuts and champion workers' rights.

You can find all of BMTN's Elections 2018 coverage on Flipboard.

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