Crime, police prosecutions bring new urgency to attorney general’s race

On Thursday night, Alpha News reporters Liz Collin and Pafoua Yang will co-moderate a debate between the leading conservative candidates for attorney general. 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (Lorie Shaull/Flickr)

The rise in crime in Minnesota and the high-profile prosecutions of Derek Chauvin and Kim Potter have brought new significance to the once-sleepy race for attorney general, analysts told Alpha News.

David Schultz, professor of political science at Hamline University, joined Liz Collin to shed light on the top issues in the attorney general’s race in 2022.

Schultz said that while the AG election is not at the top of most voters’ minds, it does have a “higher profile this year than it normally would get.”

He explained that the AG’s office is “traditionally not a criminal law enforcement agency,” but it has been involved the past few years in prosecuting police officers.

“That is actually an interesting question to be thinking about here. Whether or not the state of Minnesota would like to transform the attorney general’s office into a statewide prosecutorial office … I think that’s one of the issues that’s going to be put out there in 2022,” Schultz said.

He stressed the need for Republicans to get past their own internal divisions if they want a shot at beating Ellison.

“I think they need to settle on one or two candidates relatively rapidly, so they can then turn their attention on Keith Ellison as opposed to the fighting amongst themselves,” he said.

Ellison won a close race four years ago, Schultz explained, and now the question is whether he has “helped himself” since then or not.

“Is he an incumbent who has strengthened his position as AG and therefore will be a more difficult candidate, or is he a candidate running as an incumbent who has hurt himself in four years?” Schultz asked. While Ellison may have boosted his position with urban constituencies by prosecuting cops, he also may have “alienated” himself from Greater Minnesota with the same move, Schultz said.

Moses Bratrud with the Minnesota Family Council argued that while not everything the AG oversees may “make the papers” weekly, these matters are still “really important to get right.”

One of the issues voters should be concerned with is a pro-abortion lawsuit from Gender Justice that is currently challenging Minnesota state laws restricting abortion. Voters should ask AG candidates how they would handle this lawsuit, Bratrud explained.

“[Ellison] swears up and down that he’s there to defend [state] laws, but he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth, because then he will go and say that a woman’s right to an abortion is guaranteed under the Minnesota Constitution, in his view,” Bratrud said.

Other important issues for voters to consider include school choice, mask mandates, and vaccine mandates, in addition to crime levels.

On Thursday night, Alpha News reporters Liz Collin and Pafoua Yang will co-moderate a debate between the leading conservative candidates for attorney general.

Visit mnforum.org for more information or to buy tickets to the event, which will also be livestreamed by Alpha News.