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St. Paul DFLer Andy Dawkins announces Green Party bid for Minnesota attorney general

The former legislator wants to lead the Green Party to at least minor party status in the state by getting 2 percent of the statewide vote.

Dawkins said he will aim his campaign at disaffected DFLers, “good-hearted” Republicans, progressives who are concerned about the environment, and libertarians, who are concerned about such issues as invasion of privacy.
MinnPost photo by Doug Grow

Former legislator and St. Paul mayoral candidate Andy Dawkins is expected to announce on Tuesday that he will run as a Green Party candidate for attorney general.

Dawkins, a longtime DFLer and longtime spouse of former DFL state senator and Public Utilities Commission chair Ellen Anderson, said the decision to get back into campaign mode has been influenced by several factors:

1. Anderson has left the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton, taking a position at the University of Minnesota Law School. Her decision means Dawkins feels free to run against a DFLer, in this case incumbent AG Lori Swanson. (Recall, that Anderson was appointed by Dayton to be the PUC chair in 2011, but when they took over control of the Senate in 2012, Republicans refused to confirm her appointment.)

2. Dawkins says he’s hit a time in life when he feels free to run again. His two sons are in high school and, at 63, he’s retired from private law practice.

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3. Dawkins wants to lead the Green Party to at least minor party status in the state by getting 2 percent of the statewide vote. A higher target would be winning 5 percent of the vote, which would give the Green Party major party status in the state. Deep down, Dawkins has an even higher target. “We can win this thing,’’ he says. 

The AG field now shapes up like this: The incumbent, Swanson; the GOP’s Scott Newman, a state senator who won endorsement over the weekend; the Independence Party’s Brandan Borgas; and now, Dawkins. 

Dawkins was first elected to the Minnesota House in 1986 and decided not to seek re-election in 2002.

But, to his chagrin, he may be best remembered for being honest in his mayoral campaign in 1993.

In a TV debate, hosted by media personality Barbara Carlson, the mayoral candidates were given two placards, one reading “yes” the other “no.’’

Carlson asked whether the candidates had smoked pot in the last five years. All of the candidates, except Dawkins, answered “no.” Dawkins showed the “yes” placard.

“It was a big news deal for the next 48 hours,’’ Dawkins said. 

Norm Coleman, a newcomer to St. Paul politics, went on to defeat Dawkins in the primary and the general election. To this day, Dawkins believes the difference in the race was his “yes’’ answer. 

How should he have responded?

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“Dumb question, move on,’’ he said.

Dawkins, who has been busily collecting the 2,000 signatures necessary to be win a spot on the ballot, said he will aim his campaign at disaffected DFLers, “good-hearted” Republicans, progressives who are concerned about the environment, and libertarians, who are concerned about such issues as invasion of privacy.

Much of his campaign, Dawkins said, will be aimed at younger voters.

“I really fear that young people have lost any hope for politics,’’ Dawkins said. “I want to show them there’s a place for them.’’

By November, Dawkins even envisions a “united third party effort,’’ with either he or Borgas dropping out of the race depending who is running stronger.

The Greens, it should be noted, do not plan to put up a candidate for governor, concerned that a Green candidate might take away votes from Dayton.