Politics and Government

Keith Ellison to seek 2nd term as Minnesota attorney general

A person speaks at a podium.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison speaks at the site of the Clayton-Jackson-McGhie Memorial on the 100th anniversary of the 1920 Duluth lynchings. Ellison announced Monday he will seek a second term.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News 2020

Updated: 4:38 p.m.

Democratic Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Monday that he’s running for reelection next year.

Ellison said he wants another four-year term to continue fighting for fairness in wages, drug prices, housing costs and other areas of the economy. During a remote campaign announcement, Ellison said his goal remains to help people afford their lives.

“We’ve done a lot. We’ve done all we can, and we’re going to do more,” Ellison said. “But that’s why I’m running for re-election, to continue this fight for people all over the state of Minnesota.”

Ellison is the first Black Attorney General and the first Muslim elected to statewide office in Minnesota. He previously served a dozen years in Congress representing Minneapolis and the rest of Minnesota’s 5th District. 

Ellison noted the big, unplanned challenges that he faced in his first term as attorney general. One of those challenges was the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My team worked very closely with Gov. Walz to help him craft executive orders designed to keep Minnesotans safe, and then we successfully defended those orders against court challenges,” Ellison said. “And we won 25 times out of 25 attempts.”  

Another unplanned challenge for Ellison was his successful prosecution of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd.

Rev. Alfred Babington Johnson, one of several Ellison supporters to speak during the announcement event, praised the attorney general for his handling of that criminal case.

“Sometimes the events that swirl around us require the emergence of special respondents to meet the unique challenges,” Johnson said

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar said the Chauvin case showed the world that Ellison is a fighter for justice.

“It was an act of courage to take on that case the way he did, and I want every Minnesotan to understand that,” Klobuchar said.

Unlike Klobuchar, Ellison supported the public safety question on this year's ballot that was rejected by Minneapolis voters. 

Ellison defeated Republican Doug Wardlow in 2018. Wardlow is running again next year, and predicted voters will not give Ellison a second term. 

“Keith Ellison's tenure as attorney general has been a disaster for all Minnesotans,” Warlow said in a written statement. “He has fostered a climate of lawlessness that has led to skyrocketing crime across our state.”

At least two other Republicans — Dennis Smith and Lynne Torgerson — are announced candidates for attorney general, and more could yet join the race. 

Minnesota last elected a Republican attorney general in the 1960s.

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