Lawyer Who Rejected Trump Seeks GOP Attorney General Nod

Harry Niska is the second Republican who intends to run for the position his party hasn’t held since 1971.

RAMSEY, Minn. – Harry Niska, an active member of Republican Party politics in Minnesota, rejected his party’s nomination of Donald Trump for the presidency last year. Now he is seeking to win the GOP nomination for attorney general in Minnesota.

Campaign finance reports show Niska filed to run for attorney general on Monday. Republicans have not won an election for the office since Doug Head did so in 1966.

“In the past, I think Republican candidates have ceded to the DFL the role of consumer protection,” Niska told MPR. “Consumer protection is an important part of the job, and I’m running because I believe I can protect Minnesota consumers better than other candidates for this office. It’s what I’ve been doing in the private sector.”

Niska has been practicing law privately for a decade, after earning his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School. He and his wife Jen have been heavily involved in GOP party politics. He served as the Republican Party’s 2012 platform committee chair and also on the City of Ramsey’s Charter Commission, reports the Pioneer Press.

Niska is the second Republican to announce his bid for attorney general. Former Rep. Doug Wardlow announced his intention to run for the seat earlier this month. Niska already picked up an important nod from Sen. Michelle Benson (R – Ham Lake) on Twitter.

On the DFL side, incumbent Attorney General Lori Swanson is considering whether not to run for a fourth term. If she were to finish that term, she would join Hubert H. Humphrey III (DFL) who served from 1983 to 1999, and Joseph A. A. Burnquist (R) who served from 1939 to 1955 as the longest tenured Minnesota attorney generals. Swanson was first elected in 2007 and is also considering a run for governor in 2018.

Rep. Jon Lesch (DFL – St. Paul) and former Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL – Golden Valley) have filed campaign papers to run if Swanson decides not to pursue a fourth term.

The Republican side of the fight thus far appears to be fairly straightforward, as Niska told MPR he plans to stand by the party’s endorsement process.

“The job of the attorney general is to uphold and enforce the law on behalf of all Minnesotans and in every courtroom,” Niska told the Pioneer Press. “It is not about defending one political party or another and the job is not to make the law.”

Anders Koskinen