DFL House leader Winkler says he’ll run for Hennepin County attorney

lawmaker stands at podium
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, says he will run for Hennepin County attorney.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News file

DFL House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said he will run for Hennepin County Attorney next year and will not seek reelection to the House.

The seven-term legislator from Golden Valley said he can offer progressive change in the office, which will be open for next year's election, after longtime incumbent Mike Freeman announced he won't seek another term. 

Winkler has championed legalizing marijuana and other changes to the criminal justice system at the Capitol. He said he thinks he can do more to help as the county's top prosecutor and attorney. 

“Right now what we need is leadership in Minneapolis and in the Hennepin County area on public safety,” Winkler said in an interview with MPR News. “We just have not had leaders able to bring people together, make progressive change and actually deliver on the ground.” 

Winkler said he also wanted to make sure victims of violence get accountability.

“We need to make sure the next step happens, that families and communities are given space and given resources to help heal trauma and help to move forward rather than just see more people end up in jail,” Winkler said. 

He intends to seek the DFL endorsement for the office, but said he will run in the nonpartisan August primary regardless. Winkler will forgo reelection to his House seat to run for the county post. 

Former chief Hennepin County public defender Mary Moriarty announced last week she would run for county attorney, and at least two other prominent local attorneys have said they are weighing the race. 

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