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Another day of dueling AG press conferences

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Skip Humphrey, left, Walter Mondale, Keith Ellison and Paul Anderson talk after a press conference on Ellison's campaign for state attorney general. Tim Pugmire MPR|News

Supporters of the two major party candidates for Minnesota attorney general held competing news conferences Friday to boost their favorite in the tight race and slam the opponent.

DFL candidate Keith Ellison held a news conference in Minneapolis with Walter Mondale and Skip Humphrey, two former attorneys general who are backing his candidacy.

Retired Minnesota Supreme Court associate justice Paul Anderson, who was appointed to the court by a Republican governor, was also on hand. Anderson said he’s known Ellison’s Republican opponent, Doug Wardlow, for years. But he finds him “unsuited” for the job of attorney general.

“There are a lot of things that concern me,” Anderson said. “One is his position on the issues: women’s rights, human rights and inclusiveness.”

Wardlow’s campaign manager, Billy Grant, rejected Anderson’s critique.

"No matter how many times Democrats try to level these attacks, they are not true,” Grant said. “Doug Wardlow is committed to defending and protecting the rights of all Minnesotans.  Anyone saying anything to the contrary is clearly pushing a false narrative for political gain."

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, offered an even harsher critique of Ellison during a separate pro-Wardlow news conference in St. Paul. Wardlow was not there.

Kroll accused Ellison of having anti-law enforcement views and cited his past legal representation of known gang leader Sharif Willis.

“Ellison’s past conduct is disqualifying,” Kroll said. “Minnesota should be concerned about the prospect of him as our top law enforcement official.”

Ellison declined to respond to Kroll. But earlier in the week Ellison told reporters that he represented Willis as a defense attorney for the Legal Rights Center.

“That was our job,” Elllison said. “The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that everybody gets a right to be defended.”