U of M professor, former Bush lawyer considers run for Senate in Minnesota

Richard Painter made the announcement on Wednesday.

A former White House ethics lawyer turned University of Minnesota professor has is considering a run for Al Franken's former Senate seat.

Richard Painter told media at the State Capitol he will create an "exploratory committee" to look into the possibility of running to challenge Democrat Sen. Tina Smith, who was appointed to the seat following Franken's resignation.

He hasn't decided yet who he'll run for, saying the committee will explore options including entering primary races for the Republican and Democratic parties in Minnesota, as well as running as an independent.


– Former Bush ethics lawyer calls on Franken to run for governor.

He is considering entering politics on an anti-corruption message, saying he thinks U.S. politics particularly at the federal level has been corrupted by money.

"It's been corrupted by PACs, Super PACs and dark money organizations. If I do to pursue a race for this seat I will make sure I don't have Super PAC or dark money to support my campaign," he said.

Painter has long links to the Republican Party but says the party has changed, saying in recent years he has voted Democrat on occasion when he wasn't happy with the options presented to him by the GOP.

Who is Richard Painter?

Painter, the ethics lawyer at the White House under former President George W. Bush between 2005-07, is now professor of corporate law at the U of M.

He has amassed a major Twitter following of 401,000 and, despite previously serving a Republican president, has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration, both on Twitter and as a talking head on major TV networks.

We wrote about him last month when he called for Franken to run for governor in Minnesota, saying he was a victim of "blue dog" Democrats who pushed for his resignation following allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.

He has also previously been complimentary of Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, both for eschewing donations from the NRA and big tobacco as well as sticking to her principles while in office.

The 56 year old is a former Harvard and Yale Law graduate, taking jobs in corporate law and later education before joining the White House.

He joined the U of M in 2007 when his wife became professor of music history there, according to this City Pages, which notes that he's a lifelong "moderate Republican" who supported Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and John Kasich in the 2016 primaries, and Hillary Clinton in the general election.

The race is heating up

His possible entrance to the race would add intrigue to what is expected to be a intense election season in Minnesota, with both Senate seats up for grabs.

His moderate point of view and legal experience could win him supporters not just from right-of-center Republicans and swing voters, but also moderate Democrats who judging by social media responses see him as a conservative voice of reason.

Painter's criticism of Trump could make the Democratic primaries particularly now it's being highlighted by Politico that Sen. Smith, while being critical of White House policy, has steered clear of denouncing the president since taking office.

And if he went for the Republican ticket he could face state Sen. Karin Housley, who has apparently blocked Painter on Twitter.

Next Up

closed sign

What's open and closed in Minnesota on Thanksgiving Day 2020?

Most services will not be running on Thursday and unlike most years, many stores will be closed, too.


How a turkey's brush with celebrity in Bloomington came to a tragic end

DNR: if you care about wild animals, stop feeding them

TCF Bank Stadium

Saturday's Gophers/Badgers football game canceled due to COVID-19 issues

The Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe will not take place for the first time since 1906.

coronavirus, Iowa

MN health officials don't think downside of COVID-19 peak has arrived

We could be in a trough between a series of waves, Jan Malcolm said.

covid-19, coronavirus

Wisconsin reports record 104 deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday

That's roughly 10% of the total in the nation in a 24-hour period.


Husband and wife sentenced for fraud scheme through their drywall firm

The Annandale pair bilked an insurance company out of more than $300,000.


4 pedestrians suffer life-threatening injuries after being struck by vehicle

Two vehicles crashed into a car that was on the side of the road after striking a deer.

Marcus Carr

Gophers season preview: New lineup, deeper bench, more questions

Mathew Goldstein takes a deep dive into the murky waters of the college hoops season.


Photos: ViV!R, Minneapolis' new Mexican cafe and shop, is now open

The team behind the acclaimed Popol Vuh have opened the cafe in the same space.


At Wiscoy Township's sole precinct, election judges ditched masks

Voter and Wiscoy resident Kaitlyn O'Connor took a photo of the judges after asking them to wear masks, she said


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.

Richard Painter takes aim at Trump as he confirms DFL Senate run

The former Bush ethics lawyer also had words for Sen. Tina Smith.

Dayton will name Al Franken's Senate replacement on Wednesday

Sen. Franken announced his resignation last week.

Which Democrats might run to replace Al Franken?

The DFL Party will have to pick a candidate for a 2018 special election.

Late night hosts have their say on Al Franken's resignation from the U.S. Senate

Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon mentioned the Minnesota senator's resignation.

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

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

4 senators want Al Franken to reverse resignation, Politico reports

The Minnesota senator plans to step down next month.