Lessard focuses on outdoors funding in bid for AG

Bob Lessard
Former State Senator Bob Lessard of International Falls in a 2012 photograph. Tom Robertson|MPR News

Former DFL state Sen. Bob Lessard says he is running for state attorney general as a Republican to protect the 2008 constitutional amendment that he campaigned for.

Lessard believes what's known as the Legacy Amendment and its constitutionally-dedicated funding for environment, outdoor recreation and arts projects is under attack by legislators and others who want the sales tax revenue for other purposes.

The state Republican party platform calls for the amendment's repeal.

“As attorney general, you’re supposed to support and defend our constitution and not use your personal political philosophy to eliminate an amendment for which a strong majority of Minnesotans overwhelmingly voted,” Lessard said.

Lessard is running for the constitutional office in the Aug. 14 primary against the Republican party’s endorsed candidate, Doug Wardlow. Frequent candidate Sharon Anderson is also on the GOP ballot.

Lessard, 87, served in the Minnesota Senate from 1977 to 2002. He also championed a constitutional amendment in 1998 guaranteeing Minnesotans the right to hunt, fish and trap.

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Lessard made his intentions known last month on the final day for candidate filing. He “formally announced” his campaign in a news release last week.

“I’ll let the people decide if they want me,” Lessard said. "If they do, they do. If they don’t, they don’t.”

As for the party switch, Lessard said there was more room on the Republican ballot than on the DFL ballot. He said running as an independent was not feasible. Lessard also contends that some attorney general candidates, whom he didn’t name, want to use the office as a “political platform.”

The state constitution does not require the attorney general to be a lawyer. Lessard has never been and lawyer, and he bristles when asked about it.

“If you think to be a lawyer you have a monopoly on common sense, you’re living in never-never land,” he said.