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

MinnPost photo by Doug Grow
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.

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.

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?

“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.

Comments (17)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/02/2014 - 08:15 am.

    A green party candidate

    astride a carbon-spewing internal combustion engine?

    • Submitted by Rich Broderick on 06/02/2014 - 11:20 am.


      The bike in the photo averages 55 miles per gallon of gas. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot better than the MPG of my car — and I drive what is considered a fuel-efficient automobile. I realize your goal here was probably just to deposit a little snark, but think about it if you will. Ideally, we’d be better off if all of us were to move away from fossil fuel based transportation to something powered by renewable energy. In the meantime, we’d still be better off than we are now vis-a-vis carbon emission if we all took up driving motorcycles.

  2. Submitted by Rich Broderick on 06/02/2014 - 09:40 am.

    Getting on the ballot

    It should be noted that as of today, Andy Dawkins has met and exceeded the state’s draconian requirements for non-major party candidates to get on the statewide ballot. In the intentionally narrow two-week time frame afforded such efforts, his campaign collected some 2,800 signatures — 2000 are required — and so he will, in fact, be on the official ballot come November. This success alone is a sign not only of the vigor and organization of his campaign but also that he is a viable third-party candidate for Attorney General. What this article should have emphasized is his goals because he has a real chance of becoming our next AG.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/02/2014 - 04:34 pm.


      How many of those signatures will translate into votes? I personally make a practice of signing every nominating petition presented to me even if I would not vote for that candidate if he or she were running against a dead dog in a ditch. The more names on the ballot, the better.

      • Submitted by Rich Broderick on 06/04/2014 - 03:38 pm.

        The more names the better.

        I agree. My point was, however, that Dawkins’ campaign collected almost 3,000 names in just two weeks — the time frame mandated by state law designed by the two major parties to keep third party candidates off the ballot. I don’t know how many of those 3,000 people who signed the petition will vote for him — but it’s a lot more than if he’d had to run as a write-in candidate, which is the status the Democrats and Republican Parties prefer for people like him.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/02/2014 - 02:18 pm.

    Riding into sunsets

    Maybe that AG’s office needs more than a retiree empty nester, who sees it as a hobby he would like to pursue in his golden years.

    Just a thought.

  4. Submitted by Tom Kelly on 06/02/2014 - 02:28 pm.

    Why elect Andy Dawkins?

    Why elect Andy to the office of Attorney General? All one has to do is examine the behavior of DFL leadership as they chose clinging to power over the health of Minnesota’s most treasured natural resource, the BWCA. Hamstrung by the power of a foreign mining corporation, DFL leaders did what they often do when they should be standing up for the people of Minnesota, they tap danced til the curtain fell. I say put an end to two party rule and let’s start with electing Andy Dawkins Attorney General.

  5. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/02/2014 - 07:19 pm.

    Am I the only one that has not forgotten that Andy Dawkins was a vocal supporter of convicted murderess Kathleen Soliah?

    I think Minnesota can do a bit better in choosing it’s top cop.

    • Submitted by Tom Kelly on 06/02/2014 - 10:19 pm.

      Yeah, I remember that well. I also remember he didn’t in any way voice support for her actions back then. Like many people in Minnesota, he was simply offering his witness to the kind of person he knew. It was a shock to everyone.

      • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 06/03/2014 - 07:13 am.


        I can’t believe I am agreeing with Swift, but he’s right and you are wrong. Dawkins’ statements went far beyond simply being a witness to her good. He attempted to justify her actions (murder and bank robbery) as a product of a difficult era. Google is your friend.

        Not that anyone cares about a guy running as a Green, but Dawkins is extremely unqualified to be Attorney General.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/03/2014 - 08:22 am.

          IMO he was extremely unqualified to continue as a state legislator, but many Saint Paul Democrats evidently agreed with him.

          Still, Andy is not without hope. To this day, there are enough Democrats that agree with Sandy Pappas’ assessment of the situation to return her to the Senate, year after year, without any trouble.

          “Sandy Pappas, a St. Paul mayoral candidate for whom Olson-Soliah had raised funds, attacked the FBI for tracking her down. “Don’t they have any real crimes to fight?”

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/03/2014 - 07:37 am.

        “In the context of 1974, 75, 1976 the legitimacy of our government was very much at question and that context need to be taken into consideration when looking at the act that Sara Olson is accused of committing.”

        ~Andy Dawkins

        It’s getting harder to rewrite history in the internet age.

  6. Submitted by Mike Finley on 06/04/2014 - 03:10 pm.

    Andy Dawkins

    I have owned a house in St. Paul since 1985. Lots of politicians came knocking for votes, but Andy is the one who sticks in my mind. He has an interesting way about him. He actually engages with you, about the issues you care about. He worked a lot in those days with Kiki Sonnen, my city council rep — certainly not anyone’s idea of a classic “leftist.” Andy is an old-style Minnesota populist, a la Hubert Humphrey, Paul Wellstone, and those guys. He actually likes people. In the years since I have been at picnics and such that Andy has attended — not sucking up for votes, but having a burger in the back yard with friends. I see there’s a lot of politics and label-flaring in these comments. I just want to say, I like Andy, and I trust him. I wish that was a fundamental virtue of all public figures, but you and I know that’s not true. I look at him, and I squint, and I see old Senator Paul Wellstone standing there, rubbing his hands together, on fire to do good for the people — and give hell to people standing in his way. I say, if you want to see things light up in the capitol, there’s a dynamite way to do wit. Get Andy D, in there. It will be more than amazing, it will be entertaining.

    Mike Finley, Merriam Park
    father of two
    fed up with the same-old, same-old

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