Attorney General Swanson passes on gov bid

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson erased doubts Sunday about her political intentions, announcing her plan to run for a fourth term rather than try for an open governor's office.

"I am a candidate for re-election as Attorney General," she told supporters in an email obtained by MPR News. She said she appreciated the encouragement she was getting to run for higher office but said she has too much important work on her plate.

"I must focus all my energy and attention on that work," Swanson wrote, citing cases against pharmaceutical companies, for-profit colleges and President Donald Trump's restrictions on travelers from certain foreign countries.

The development is important for both races.

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Swanson was viewed as a candidate who could have vaulted instantly into the lead pack for governor.

Her decision not to run could reduce the prospects of a contested primary to determine the DFL nominee for governor, because the declared candidates are all vying hard for the party endorsement that will be decided in early June and aren't seen as likely as Swanson to take the race to an August primary. That said, any candidate could move ahead if there is no endorsement or if he or she doesn't believe the outcome is fair.

A number of Democrats were already angling for the chance to succeed Swanson as attorney general, with most saying they'd make way if she ran for her job again.

Swanson was first elected attorney general in 2006, and she cruised to new terms in 2010 and 2014. She had been sizing up a campaign for governor while not ruling out a re-election bid.

Former state Rep. Doug Wardlow is the sole Republican candidate for attorney general.

Among DFLers, the candidates for governor are: former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, State Auditor Rebecca Otto, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and state Reps. Tina Liebling, Erin Murphy and Paul Thissen.

Republicans also have a decent-sized field with former party chairman Keith Downey, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, Naval officer Phillip Parrish, Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens and less visible candidates Ole Savior and Jeffrey Wharton.