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Richard Painter tests the limits of the anti-Trump campaign

Painter for U.S. Senate
Richard Painter, once the chief ethics counsel in the George W. Bush White House, has emerged as a prominent critic of the Trump administration — and an eager one.

Minnesota might see the candidate most opposed to President Donald Trump running anywhere in the country this midterm election year.

That candidate is not a staunchly progressive Democrat, but someone who once worked in a Republican White House: Richard W. Painter, the University of Minnesota law professor and frequent cable news talking head who has made himself into an unlikely hero of the anti-Trump #Resistance.

After saying he was exploring a bid for U.S. Senate in March, Painter announced on April 30 that he’d officially be running as a Democrat against incumbent DFL Sen. Tina Smith, who was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to fill the seat vacated by Al Franken in January.

Painter, once the chief ethics counsel in the George W. Bush White House, has emerged as a prominent critic of the Trump administration — and an eager one. To his 460,000 Twitter followers, Painter supplies a constant feed of scathing tweets about Trump, covering everything from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his camp’s ties with Russia to the president’s business interests; the ethical lapses by cabinet members to Stormy Daniels’ legal maneuvering.

The 57-year old Harvard and Yale-educated lawyer, clad in his uniform blue blazer and maroon-and-yellow tie, is also a constant presence on MSNBC, delighting liberal audiences as he shouts down Trump surrogates and right-wing pundits.

Painter’s outspokenness, and his apocalyptic view of the Trump presidency, have earned him plenty of admirers who see him as a courageous voice criticizing Trump and his one-time party out of duty and conviction. Detractors, of whom Painter has plenty on both sides, are not as kind, and sense opportunism in his bid.

Though his is not a one-note candidacy, the more parochial aspects of Painter’s platform — such as his emphasis on trade and mining — ultimately rejoin the central thread of his political point of view: the debasing of the rule of law, government institutions, the economy, and the country itself at the hands of Trump and his minions.

Smith is still the heavy favorite to win the DFL’s endorsement, and its nomination in the August 14 primary that Painter has promised to compete in. No matter what happens, his candidacy will reveal something important: how successful a candidate can be in 2018 by making their main opponent Donald Trump.

‘A very, very dire situation‘

Before his Monday announcement at the Minnesota state capitol, Painter had a March press event in the same spot, declaring the creation of his Senate exploratory committee, leaving unanswered some key questions — particularly, whether he’d run as a DFL or third-party candidate. (Or even a Republican: as recently as December, Painter tweeted that he still identified as one.)

But Painter’s splash into the race left no doubt: he would file for office as a Democrat. “I’m running against Donald Trump and every one of his collaborators in the Republican Party,” he said in St. Paul.

In an interview with MinnPost, Painter said that he would not run a negative campaign against Smith, and that his priority is that the seat not fall into Republican hands in a crucial midterm election year, in which the GOP is fighting hard to maintain their congressional majorities.

“I’m going to strongly oppose in the general election any Republican candidate who supports President Trump and what he’s doing to our country,” Painter said. “I believe we are in a very, very dire situation, and we need to have as forceful a Congress as we possibly can to stand up to President Trump.”

Though he characterized Smith as an anti-Trump candidate, Painter believes that she is not sufficiently anti-Trump. (In March, Painter tweeted that it was “hard to tell” if Smith was tougher on Trump than her likely GOP opponent, Trump-supporting state Sen. Karin Housley.) More broadly, he believes that members of Congress from both parties have not been tough enough on this administration. He’s reportedly chastised in person Republican members of Congress, Reps. Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer, for not providing an adequate check on the administration.

“I think every single U.S. Senator, every single one of them, ought to be calling for immediate hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate obstruction of justice and abuse of power,” he said. “I’m not going to single [Smith] out… There are very few senators who are aggressively insisting that there be hearings.”

On MSNBC on Monday, Painter said Smith needed to be a “lot stronger” against Trump. “She should have come out against his trade war, which is going to destroy agriculture in our state,” he argued. “She should call for his removal from office, quite frankly.”

Painter’s platform is heavily focused on Trump: his campaign website declares that Trump is a “threat to our republic.” The landing page features a photo of a stern-looking Painter sitting in his study, with the words “ZERO TOLERANCE FOR CORRUPTION,” imposed on top. Below that is a link to donate to Painter’s campaign — “no PACs, no dark money, no Russian agents.”

“We’re well beyond the point where we were when the Senate Watergate hearings began in 1973,” Painter said, referring to Mueller’s investigation. On Twitter, Painter has suggested that Vice President Mike Pence might pardon Trump in the event of his resignation or impeachment, as Gerald Ford did for Richard Nixon after Watergate. “Jimmy [Carter] can tell us all about it,” he quipped.

A household name?

Painter’s jump into politics was not accompanied by the kind of soft campaigning and coalition-building that preceded, for example, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s official entry into this year’s open-seat governor’s contest.

DFL operatives and political observers said that Painter has done little in the way of outreach to his newly-adopted party, and his plan to compete in the August primary has meant that he is not actively courting grassroots activists the way a more traditional candidate might. (Painter has lived in Minnesota since 2007, when he joined the University of Minnesota Law School faculty after departing the Bush White House. He and his family live in Mendota Heights.)

Painter told MinnPost that he’s talked to some people in the party but declared he wouldn’t go “begging for votes” at the DFL’s statewide nominating convention in June. “I’d be thrilled to go to convention if they want me to come and speak. I’d be thrilled to endorse at the state convention if they choose to do that,” he said. “Ultimately, I want to be endorsed by the people of the state of Minnesota. It’s an open primary.”

A Painter spokesman said that “Richard has openly supported Democratic candidates in congressional races in Minnesota. He has had conversations with a host of local Democrats at all levels and in the next few days will meet with state DFL leadership.”

Smith, the former lieutenant governor, has a wealth of institutional party support: she boasts the endorsement of Minnesota’s five DFL members of Congress, the mayors of the state’s two largest cities, former Vice President Walter Mondale, and key outside groups like the AFL-CIO.

But Painter’s one advantage — and the engine of his candidacy — is that he has something close to a national profile. His Twitter account has more followers than any active Minnesota politician, and more than most of his would-be colleagues in the U.S. Senate. (It’s an audience comparable to the one Franken had at the height of his Trump-era popularity.)

From that perch, Painter tosses out anti-Trump red meat that the Resistance crowd just can’t resist. Over a few weeks in April, Painter tweeted that the revelations that White House staff doc Ronny Jackson was a “candyman” explained “some of what we’ve been witnessing,” quipped that Russian translations of the Constitution would be available at the Minnesota GOP’s state convention, and insinuated that “inbreeding” had happened at the White House.

Painter has also been a defender of Franken in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations levied at the former senator, and tweeted out a now-retracted Newsweek story that claimed Franken’s ouster from office was hastened by Russian hackers who didn’t like how hard Franken was going after Trump’s connections with Russia.

Retweets and likes — of which Painter’s tweets and clips routinely get thousands — don’t necessarily make for a successful campaign. But his online profile gives him a national reach that could provide him a fundraising source for his campaign, for which he has pledged to not take any PAC contributions.

When he announced his candidacy, the comedian Rosie O’Donnell tweeted her support to Painter — and her 1.1 million followers — asking, “how can i max out to you richard – send a link out to us all.” She added, “i cheer u every day when u r on – truth teller #painter.” (It appears O’Donnell had already donated to Smith, too.)

Larry Jacobs, professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, says Painter’s social media and cable news following is unlikely to translate into popular support in a DFL primary.

“He’s got name recognition for you and me and nine or 10 of our friends, but he’s not a household name,” Jacobs said. “He’s got no real cash, and doesn’t have an organization behind him, unlike Tina Smith, who’s going to be supported by an army, by money, by elements of the DFL. Painter is kind of a lonely person in political terms.”

All politics isn’t local

Though Smith is considered the strong favorite to earn the DFL’s nomination, the unconventional style of Painter’s campaign has left operatives and observers privately speculating about how much support he could attract in a primary.

Jacobs predicted that Painter’s hard-line anti-Trump bona fides would not be enough for the DFL base, and that his past as a Republican and a George W. Bush official will turn off the vast majority of primary voters.

Though Painter has declared he’s pro-choice, he holds classically conservative views on the federal budget (it should be balanced) and trade (it should be free), not exactly Democratic orthodoxy. Beyond that, his top choice for president in 2016 was Jeb Bush, and his back-up choice was Ohio Gov. John Kasich, before he settled on Hillary Clinton when Trump won the nomination.

“Let’s face it, he’s a striped animal from a different tribe. Unfortunately, that’s the way politics are today,” Jacobs said. “My hunch is, by the end of the day, the support is going to be in the five to 10 percent range.”

Tim Lindberg, assistant professor of political science at the University of Minnesota at Morris, says that since the 2016 election, Democrats have refocused on state, local, and regional issues. Washington Democrats’ messaging has a dominant anti-Trump flair, which has rubbed many midwestern Democrats the wrong way. They argue that bread-and-butter issues will hand them congressional majorities, not a relentless focus on Trump, the Russia investigation, and other administration stories.

“Democrats can only ride anti-Trump rhetoric so far,” Lindberg said. “Republicans could only ride anti-Obama rhetoric so far… just having an anti-whoever’s in power message isn’t enough. Is it enough for [Painter] to win this year? Maybe.”

There’s one notable exception to the national, Trump-flavored focus of Painter’s candidacy: his vehement opposition to mining projects in Minnesota, particularly the copper-nickel mine being proposed for northeastern Minnesota’s Iron Range by the mining company PolyMet.

Painter believes that Smith, and DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, have been too friendly toward mining interests in favor of their political ambitions and at the expense of Minnesota’s economy and environment. “I think it’s very, very short-sighted to support the PolyMet mine,” he said. “The Minnesota senators aren’t willing to take a stand against it… I’m going to call [Smith] out on mining. There’s going to be some issues of disagreement to talk about in this campaign.”

But even on an issue as local as this one, Trump connections and questions of ethics and foreign influence feature as prominently as environmental degradation in Painter’s case against mining.

In interviews and connect-the-dots Twitter threads, Painter frequently mentions that a major backer of PolyMet, European mining conglomerate Glencore, was once tied to a Russian oligarch; he also is quick to remind that the chairman of Antofagasta, the Chilean mining conglomerate that owns Minnesota-based Twin Metals, rents a D.C. mansion to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Painter by the numbers

Some Minnesota Democrats are scratching their heads at Painter’s candidacy, and worry that he’ll hurt their chances of holding this seat even if he only gives Smith a primary fight.

Justin Perpich, a former chair of the 8th District DFL, said that Painter doesn’t stand much of a chance. “It seems like he’s out of touch with the state and the DFL voters,” he said. “It also looks like another man jumping into the race to challenge a more than qualified Tina Smith.”

In a statement to MinnPost, Smith said that her job is to be “the strongest advocate I can be for the people of Minnesota, which means standing up to the president and his administration and holding them accountable when they are doing things that are not in Minnesota’s best interest. But it also means looking for common ground on places where we can work together to get stuff done.”

A candidacy as stridently anti-Trump as Painter’s, even if it gets traction in a DFL primary, could run into problems in the general election. Minnesota is starkly divided: Trump nearly won the state in 2016, and he remains popular in areas outside the Twin Cities.

GOP candidates, such as Housley, are hugging Trump. Republicans are hoping for fireworks between the two candidates — and for Painter to push Smith toward taking a harsher line on Trump.

Jennifer Carnahan, the state GOP chair, said in a statement on Painter’s candidacy that he “appears motivated by a hatred towards President Trump. That’s not the kind of message Minnesotans are looking for — and that’s not the kind of platform that can win in this state.”

Painter disagrees, and believes that Trump’s rhetoric, policies, and conduct in office have alienated Minnesotans, even if many were friendly to Trump in 2016. He dismissed the idea that Minnesota’s political divide means that a statewide candidate has to compromise on the president and all that comes with him — and he vowed that he won’t be doing anything of the sort on the campaign trail this summer.

“We see a split in the electorate so we’ve gotta live with it? That’s not the way it works,” he said. “We’ve had abuse of power. Senators just sit on their hands because the electorate may be split, that’s not their job. Their job is to stand up for what’s right.”

“I believe that we need someone in that seat who is going to be a forceful voice for what’s going on with the Trump administration, and their obstruction of justice, and the threat to the Constitution posed by this presidency. I believe I can do that.”

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Comments (23)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 05/03/2018 - 10:57 am.

    A bit of a apples and oranges comparison…

    …but it will be interesting to see how Minnesota voters respond to two high-profile candidates who were both late to toss their hats into the ring — Painter and Pawlenty.

    As well as courting the “anti-Trump” vote, Painter seems to be reaching for DFLers who believe former Senator Franken was treated unfairly.

    Frankly, I don’t see that as a winning strategy, either, as Smith had nothing to do with Franken’s resignation.

    We’ll see, soon enough.

  2. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 05/03/2018 - 12:31 pm.

    A sense of ethics

    He is a man of ethics in a world of pragmatic politicians and self promoters. A throwback to the era of Eugene McCarthy, William Proxmire and Jimmy Carter. If we didn’t already have a Ms. Smith in Washington, a reference to that movie would be legitimate.

    Effective politicians need to know how to promote themselves to win elections,, but also approach their job with a purpose beyond self promotion. We need more politicians with a sense of ethics, not to demean, but inspire others.

    Jimmy Carter assumed too much intelligence on the part of people to understand why we need to give up the Canal Zone and start conserving resources. When he lost, he found himself. He went on to teach us all through the deep respect he holds for all people, his not-just-for show religious beliefs, his clarity of focus on results. He walked the talk. Confronted by a brain tumor past age 90, he had faith in God and science to treat him well – and got his wish of more life. Miracles can happen with faith, hope and trust.

    Painter is none of these guys. Given the situation, he will probably just run his campaign, communicate his messages and return to normal life. But don’t we need men and women of strong ethics to counteract crass self promoting frauds like Donald Trump? Everyone who is a refuge from walked in exclusive judging village that is the Republican Party is welcome in the big tent three ring circus that is the DFL.

  3. Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/03/2018 - 12:39 pm.

    Nobody cares

    Who is this guy’s constituency? What an egomaniac.

  4. Submitted by John Ferman on 05/03/2018 - 01:49 pm.

    Painter’s Cojones

    What is Painter’s political history. What issues has he supported and deplored over his history. The purpose of endorsing conventions is to examine a candidate’s credentials and history to decide if the candidate is deserving of endorsement. To run on a ‘Trump Stinks’ campain tells nothing of how he would vote per Democratic principles. My advice: look deeply under the outer wrapping

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/03/2018 - 02:34 pm.

    Kind of obvious don’t ya think?

    Since Painter has zero credentials as a Democrat, being a former Republican, his campaign would HAVE to be centered around being anti-Trump. I just hope centrist Democrats who might be tempted to think he’s “electable” will remember the last election cycle. To the extent that Democrats lost votes they did so because the failed to give people something vote FOR, assuming that voting AGAINST Trump and his fellow Republicans would carry the day.

    Besides being against Trump, what possible liberal or progressive platform could this guy possibly offer? And even if he got elected, what kind of “victory” could that possibly be for liberals? Would another blue dog Democrat from MN really be helpful? Is that the best we can do?

  6. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 05/03/2018 - 03:52 pm.

    Based on these comments, 2018 will be ugly again.

    First, “Running Against Trump” embodies a lot of things, all of which are good. It’s not just Trump personally, but a lot of his failed policies as well.

    It’s clear from these comments that Liberals learned nothing from the last election and will continue to nominate failed candidates and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. You want to criticize Painter as being a lightweight and not standing for anything? And then you’re alternative is Tina Smith? Pull-eeze!!

    You’re going to mock him for not being dynamic when you have one of the most boring Senators winning election after election with 65% of the vote? Amy maintains a low profile, reaches across the aisle when needed and pushes progressive issues when she sees an opening. Exactly the type of candidate that can win in this state.

    What Trump did to win is to fool the middle class into believing he was Their Guy and cared about their issues. In doing so, he captured a lot of the undecideds. Yet the Liberals continue to drag the Progressive extremes to the front and center of their platform, get hammered in the election and are then lost trying to understand why!

    • Submitted by Elisa Wright on 05/04/2018 - 07:16 am.

      A choice

      Agree. In addition, we need Richard Painter. Minnesotans did not have any choice in the Al Franken matter. Tina Smith was Dayton’s choice. At the very least we have a choice, now. That is how this works.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/04/2018 - 10:53 am.

      Um no

      There is a continuum between dragging progressive extremes to the front and center and a guy who became a Democrat this week. This guy was the Bush ethics advisor. That alone makes him unfit to hold any public office.

  7. Submitted by jim hughes on 05/03/2018 - 03:59 pm.

    I’m a Democrat and I find myself agreeing with every word this guy says. So how is he “out of touch with the state and the DFL voters”? I’d be happy to get behind him, instead of the MeToo Gang that took out Sen. Franken.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/04/2018 - 11:48 am.

      I Agree With Him, Too, But . . .

      Yes, I agree with his anti-Trump arguments. He lays out the case that the current administration is morally bankrupt.

      The problem is, what then? Is that enough to sustain a Senate candidacy? He is known as the voice of reason on the administration’s manifold failings, largely because he self-identified as a Republican until very recently. Where is he on other issues? Minimum wage? Global warming? Labor rights? Is he really just the anti-Trump, reflexively opposing anything Trump stands for, just as Trump opposes anything Obama-related?

      Sorry but I need to see a little bit more before I can regard him as even remotely credible.

      “I’d be happy to get behind him, instead of the MeToo Gang that took out Sen. Franken.” I think Senator Franken had some agency in his own downfall.

  8. Submitted by Bruce Pomerantz on 05/03/2018 - 07:14 pm.

    Paint By the Numbers

    The number one question is what was his ethical advice to George W. Bush regarding the invasion of Iraq?

  9. Submitted by Aaron Albertson on 05/03/2018 - 08:43 pm.

    As a DFLer

    No to this guy. We need to do better in Greater MN and running against Trump won’t be successful out there

  10. Submitted by Joe Musich on 05/03/2018 - 09:06 pm.

    Hearing this guy speak …

    is exciting. I have never heard Smith speak although I have not searched for a discussion or presentation. I am still distraught over the Franken resignation. At least I got a glimpse of Franken using his voice to take positions. Maybe it is the coverage with everything being all Trump all the time. I have always voted Dem but I am moving away fast. The images of what we can be are clearly not in focus out the Dems. There are some who speak the speak but then a closer look at voting or accomplishments tell another tale. I am fed up with polices bringing played around the edges. Social Democracy makes sense. Although death is coming slowly market capitalism is killing us and the world. Whole populations are expendable. And nothing in our politics seems to be stopping it. Painter seems to at least going after some of the perpetrators. The trade issue is troublesome. Somehow we need to evolve to a better mangement system for this world. One geographic location is pitted against another. The winner takes all and the loser dies. Somebody please talk about this.

  11. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/03/2018 - 09:06 pm.

    Sounds like a spoiler to me

    When a lifelong Republican suddenly decides to turn Democrat at run for the nomination for a seat held by a Democrat, it raises strong suspicions about the motivation (and money) behind his campaign.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/04/2018 - 08:25 am.

    Head still in the sand eh?

    We’ve been watching successful and much more nearly successful that would have been expected Democratic challenges over the last year in a number of special elections. So far the most successful campaigns have not been based on anti-Trump platforms. Where Democrats have succeeded they’ve done so by promoting liberal agendas and giving voters alternatives… something to vote for. Simply voting against Trump didn’t work in 2016, and it won’t work this year. Voters want to feel like their contributing to something constructive, not just tearing Trump down.

    If Painter ends up facing a credible Republican who runs as a “moderate”, he’ll likely loose because because he won’t get draw liberal enthusiasm, and he won’t draw Republican votes. If Painter ends up facing an obvious whackadoo, he’ll have a chance. But a strong liberal Democrat with a positive agenda that speaks effectively to voters can win in either scenario.

  13. Submitted by Elisa Wright on 05/04/2018 - 06:21 pm.

    Sam Brody wrote a wonderful article about Tim Pawlenty and what he’s been doing for the last five years. I learned a lot about the FSR and how they wrote the infamous tax plan by going to their website which I would never have done had I not read the Pawlenty article.

    I am disappointed with this article. People don’t really need to know the obvious -that Richard Painter would like to impeach Trump and that he worked for George W.

    Our job is to vote for who we think would be the best senator and clearly we need to know more about Richard Painter.

    There is plenty of information available. Richard has written books and given lectures many of which can be viewed on YouTube. He has been interviewed by other journalists. Perhaps someone at Minnpost could do some research and let us know something beyond tweets and sound bites.

    Thanks 🙂

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/05/2018 - 08:36 am.

      Thank you Ms. Wright

      This article is a great example of the old style procedural reporting that still tends to dominate “mainstream” American journalism and reporting. It covers the “procedures” pertaining to subjects rather than substance that characterizes the subjects. So we get “political” coverage that focuses on the nomination process rather than the nature of those who want be nominated.

      Part of this stems from the pseudo-“objective” style that so many journalists have been trained to practice. I call it pseudo-objectivity because the objective they claim to practice isn’t actually possible. The theory is that it’s up to Party members to decide who they want to vote for (or more generally for consumers to decide what to the think) and if a reporter starts critiquing candidates they may cross the line into advocacy rather than mere reporting. Of course since the function of the fourth estate is supposed to be all about enabling informed decisions, this practice of self censorship that essentially withholds information, or ignores it, can actually create an irrelevant journalism regime. The irony is that one of the OTHER reasons for the “objective” style is that it’s supposed promote an image of credibility. The quality of “balance” is supposed to convince us that the reporting we see is reliable and free from bias. The reality is that no matter what “style” journalists rely on, they’re always accused of being bias one way or the other anyways, and the failure to provide substance has degraded their credibility.

      You see the same thing with Tim Walz, all kinds of “coverage” but not a peep about his agenda or proposals.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/07/2018 - 09:44 am.

    And of course…

    The most obvious question, one that has been alluded to here already- given the fact that the Iraq war was an illegal act of aggression thereby making those who ordered it war criminals; what kind of lawyer could Painter have been for the Bush Administration? Unless he told them they were committing a war crime I don’t see anything I can possibly vote for here if does get the nomination.

    • Submitted by Elisa Wright on 05/10/2018 - 08:26 pm.

      I don’t think the White House ethics lawyer has much control over whether war is declared with or without proof of WMD. They are there to advise and provide legal support to the president and staff.

      So glad other people think that war was just wrong. The reasons for going to war didn’t make any sense at the time, but for some reason it was popular. Wellstone was worried his “no” vote would cost him the election, but voted no anyway.

  15. Submitted by Elisa Wright on 05/07/2018 - 12:27 pm.

    Thank you, Mr. Udstrand

    I see what you mean about procedural reporting. There is nothing wrong with the article itself.

    It seems from the comments and a general focus on his recent TV appearances, people don’t know much about him. I would like to know more about him and Tina Smith. I think they both look like good candidates, so this is going to be a tough decision.

    Also, the Pawlenty article was brilliant.

    • Submitted by richard owens on 05/08/2018 - 04:27 pm.

      Tina Smith should get your vote.

      She is not a white male. She is not now and never has been a Republican.

      She is female in a year in which this country has discovered the depths of social obstacles, including inequality of compensation, under-representation in all our major institutions, and the humiliation in great numbers of our grandmas, sisters, wives and girls as they are subject to extremely high levels of sexual harassment and outright attacks from men in power over them.

      In addition, we have states controlled by crazies (like Iowa legislators) now thinking they may take domain over her very right to determine whether or not she will carry an unwanted pregnancy to term (passed by MEN).

      These are the same white men who talk frequently about their freedom, as if they even know what loss of freedom means to a person forced to make a decision against their personal judgement.

      Need I go on? Well, yes.

      All the positive things about Tina Smith are apparent when you hear her speak or read her views. She is not an “Ambitious politician” (at least YET), and only reluctantly decided to take her turn in the front lines. She has long served and her head is clear, her goals are righteous and she’s a progressive candidate on every issue. No gun stuff, no religious extremism, no partisan grudges.

      Check her out. She’s one of our best.

      It is time for HER to take Franken’s seat for a full term.

  16. Submitted by David Moseman on 05/10/2018 - 10:26 am.

    Will the DFL really have a primary?

    Richard Painter’s declaration that he will run as a Democrat in the DFL Primary sets up a very interesting contest there. Primaries in MN are open. That means that Democrats can vote in the Republican Primary and vice versa.

    If the Republicans nominate a Pro Trump Candidate for the seat currently held by Tina Smith, many of them will want to see Painter run in the General. They might hold their noses and vote for a Republican in Democratic cloths. To set this up they would have to vote in the DFL Primary and give Painter the DFL nomination. Thus party insiders from both the DFL and Republican Party would do their traditional face off in the DFL Primary.

    Neither Painter nor Smith has a real legislative record to run on. Both are political insiders. Since Smith was appointed and not vetted by the party to get her nomination party activists have no innate allegiance to her. Neither is an experienced campaigner.

    This sets up a General election between Pro Trump and anti-Trump candidates for the General. A Strong Pro Trump Republican Candidate could take this seat from either Smith or Painter.

  17. Submitted by Elanne Palcich on 05/26/2018 - 12:14 pm.

    Voters finally get a choice

    Any of our current political leaders who are actively supporting PolyMet, if PolyMet gets permitted, will go down in history as the ones who sold out northeast Minnesota to foreign mining conglomerates, ruining our water and our environment.
    We finally have a choice–Richard Painter–who is willing to stand up and speak the truth about PolyMet–and other issues of corruption.

    By the way, PolyMet’s mine would not be located on the Iron Range. Copper-nickel mineralization is a separate geological formation. PolyMet’s pits would be located in what is now Superior National Forest, destroying valuable wetlands–in an area that the Partridge River flows through on its way to the St. Louis River, which flows into lake Superior.

    Tina Smith has no particular qualifications to make her the darling of the Democrats. Except that she will fall into line with the inner workings of the caucus system and the good ol’ boys behind the scenes.

    Voters, we have a choice. Let’s not lose our chance.

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