Skip to main content

Former Bush lawyer calls on Franken to run for governor, slams 'blue dog Dems'

Richard Painter has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

A former White House lawyer turned University of Minnesota professor has called on Al Franken to run for Minnesota Governor, and slammed "blue dog" Democrats who accepted NRA money early in their career.

Richard W. Painter was the ethics lawyer for George W. Bush between 2005-07 and is now professor of corporate law at the U of M. He has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration on Twitter, on which he has 376,000 followers.

In a series of tweets over the past day, Painter has been slamming Democrats who have taken money or endorsements from the National Rifle Association earlier in their career, only to pivot to anti-gun positions as they seek political advancement.

Among those in his sights is Democratic New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who was famously pro-gun, earning an A-rating from the NRA, before shifting nine years ago to an anti-gun stance.


– Al Franken's goodbye speech to supporters.

Gillibrand was one of the leading voices in the Senate to call for former Minnesota senator Al Franken's resignation after allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, something that Painter also disagrees with.

He says that with the predicted "blue wave" of Democratic wins in November, he doesn't want to see voters "rewarding" these "blue dog" Democrats for evolving their position on guns despite accepting previous NRA support, especially in the wake of the Florida school massacre.

"Blue dog" is a term often applied to Democratic politicians in southern states that have conservative voting records.

He wants Franken to run again

Among the "blue dogs" he calls out – if not by name – on Twitter is gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz, who has previously accepted NRA donations during his time as representative for Minnesota's 1st District, but gave them away after the Las Vegas shooting in October.

"One of those candidates conveniently distanced himself from the NRA and gave the NRA money back as soon as he declared for governor," Painter tweeted. "Right .... That kind of stunt may get a pol a NY senate seat but it won’t go over well in MN."

Believing Franken was not afforded the due process required to investigate the allegations against him, Painter thinks the former senator should either reclaim his Senate seat or run for Minnesota governor this year.

In a tweet responding to Franken's daughter Thomasin – who herself was criticizing Gillibrand for her involvement in her father's resignation – Painter said Franken should run so Minnesota does not face a choice of two pro-gun candidates come November.

Al Franken has given no indication at any stage he would run for governor, and has given his support to Sen. Tina Smith, who took his place in the Senate and will run to retain the seat in November.

Next Up

Anthony Edwards

Ant ejected, Wolves blow huge lead and lose to slumping Hawks

The Timberwolves missed another opportunity to get over .500.

Xcel Energy Center

NHL announces make-up dates for Wild postponements

The Wild will play 40 games in the final 77 days of the regular season.

the mayo clinic - edit

Group says Mayo should be 'severely punished' over research puppy's death

The puppy died two days after undergoing a procedure at a Mayo research facility.

FLickr - minneapolis police - Tony Webster - Feb 2020 - crop

Charges: Man kidnapped woman, sexually assaulted her at gunpoint

The suspect faces three separate felony charges.

mn state capitol january 17 2021

St. Cloud 'Boogaloo Boi' who discussed attack on MN Capitol gets 2 years

He was charged with illegally possessing a machine gun.

Chris Smith

Gophers add All-Ivy League D-tackle from Harvard

Chris Smith will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer.

school bus

High school basketball team returns from game to find bus driver dead

Members of the girls team returned to the bus to find the driver unresponsive.

covid-19 testing site sign

Minnesota AG sues COVID testing site, alleging it sent false results

Sometimes the company didn't send people their results at all, the lawsuit alleges.

optum headquarters chad davis wikimedia commons

UnitedHealth Group says it made $287B last year, $24B of it profit

The corporation's Optum business represented a significant chunk of that total.


Omicron may have already peaked in Minnesota

Reported cases lag what's happening in real time, so the newly reported cases over the next week or so will still be very high.

MnDot snow plow cam I-35 12-10-21

MnDOT reveals 50 snowplow name finalists

Voting is open through Wednesday, Jan. 26.


Franken makes tentative return to public limelight with healthcare podcast

The former senator has been quiet since stepping down amid inappropriate conduct allegations.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand defends role in Al Franken's resignation

She was the first Democratic senator to call on Franken to resign.

Al Franken announces his resignation as Minnesota senator

It follows allegations of inappropriate conduct from multiple women.

Sarah Silverman says Al Franken was 'bullied' into resigning

The comedian is a long-time friend of Minnesota's former senator.

Al Franken says he won't be running for president in 2020

The Minnesota senator has been touted recently as a possible Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2020.

Democratic donor considers pulling support from senators over treatment of Al Franken

Susie Tompkins Buell is unhappy with the way his exit came about.