Election 2022: Minnesota Attorney General

This is one of the races that’s so stark for me it almost doesn’t feel like I should need to write this. Keith Ellison is one of the DFLers who is not only better than the alternative, I’m actually extremely happy with the job he’s done, plus he’s up against a radical right-wing Republican who is smart enough to say the quiet part quietly but is nonetheless going to do anything and everything in his power to screw over LGBT people and anyone who needs an abortion while also defanging Minnesota’s consumer protections. tl;dr VOTE FOR KEITH ELLISON.

On the ballot:

Keith Ellison
Jim Schultz

At the top of my list of reasons I appreciate Keith Ellison’s work: his prosecution of Derek Chauvin. The AG’s office does not do a lot of criminal work (mostly that’s handled by the County Attorneys, more on this in a minute) but in a situation where a police officer is being prosecuted for a crime, there are significant advantages to letting a state official take the lead. (County Attorneys depend on police officers to testify in all their other criminal prosecutions; this creates a significant conflict when prosecuting police for crimes committed while on duty.) More importantly: Ellison’s office did an extremely good job prosecuting Chauvin. It is hard to get a conviction of a police officer, even when he commits cold-blooded murder in front of multiple cameras. They took nothing for granted, brought in top-notch experts, built the case, and won it.

Normally, the Attorney General is more focused on consumer and worker protection, and Ellison has also done a lot of excellent work there. He’s taken slumlords to court. He’s created a wage theft unit. He’s won debt relief for people who were conned into enrolling in fraudulent diploma-mill schools and a settlement from Navient over allegations they steered people away from the repayment plans that would have benefited the borrower. He defended the Alex Smith Insulin Affordability Act and joined a lawsuit against generic drug makers for colluding to keep costs high. He’s done a lot of really good work and I am genuinely really happy with him as AG.

Jim Schultz seems to be running on the platform of, “not Keith Ellison.” If you look at his website, it’s sort of shocking just how little information is on it. I counted, and on his issues page, he uses fewer than 100 words total. (It’s 71, to be exact.) The icons shift slightly when you mouse over them, suggesting that maybe they’re links that would go to a more detailed policy discussion, but nope. No links. Here’s one of his “issues”:

Defend the Constitution
Safeguard the constitutional rights of every Minnesotan.

He does not say which constitutional rights and we sure as hell know he doesn’t mean the right to an abortion! (I assume, after a bit of digging, that he means “the right to own guns and take them wherever the hell you want with no repercussions or inconveniences or requirements or training or whatever, at least if you’re white.”)

He’s tried repeatedly while running to claim that abortion is “settled law,” which — weirdly — is almost word-for-word what several of the Republican-nominated justices said in confirmation hearings and they went on to overturn Roe vs. Wade. His phrasing here is absolutely not a coincidence; it’s intended to reassure the right wing that he’s definitely going to do whatever’s in his power to stop people from getting abortions.

And what is in his power? Well, in the debate, he pointed out that AGs can wade in to criminal cases uninvited if they involve “racketeering.” The NLRC has been urging the passage of legislation that massively expands racketeering laws to prosecute people who provide abortions. Abortion in Minnesota is legal and protected, but that does not mean that Schultz would not be able to find loopholes to harass and prosecute people seeking or providing abortions. He served on the board of the “Human Life Alliance,” a nonprofit that says it seeks to make abortion “not only illegal, but unthinkable.”

This morning, I listened to a radio show (also a podcast) about “pill fairies,” women who provide abortion pills on demand in states where abortion is not legal. (There’s also a transcript — you can find it here.) The legal status of people who buy abortion pills over the counter and send them by mail is deeply unclear, but I am really confident that a Republican could dig up a law they could prosecute that under, whether it’s practicing medicine without a license or misuse of encryption. Racketeering laws are intended to prosecute people involved in criminal enterprise. So let’s say someone in Minnesota acts as an intermediary — buys the abortion pills via telemedicine for a friend, sends them along, and gets reimbursed the cost over Venmo. Do we really think Jim Schultz won’t try a racketeering charge for that, if it happens in Hennepin or Ramsey County and the County Attorney declines to treat this as a criminal matter?

In the piece about pill fairies, the journalist cites a Mexican activist in saying, “the bigger the movement becomes, the harder it’ll be to crack down on.” Overall, this is true. However, what I predict will happen is that right-wing prosecutors will try to make an example of anyone they happen to catch. There’s a saying popular among cops that goes, “You may beat the rap, but not the ride” — even if a jury refuses to convict, this sort of criminal prosecution can really fuck up someone’s life. And that would be the goal.

In the meantime, Jim Schultz has explicitly promised to protect the rights of people who take pharmacy jobs in order to act as the personal moralistic gatekeeper against anyone who needs medication they “disagree” with (rather than the rights of individuals who need medication) and I sure as hell don’t see him protecting the rights of same-sex married couples, never mind the rights of trans kids or their families.

He’s also a literal hedge fund lawyer and has made it thoroughly clear that his priority is not citizens that get ripped off, but businesses and their right to make as much money as possible. He wants to cut the number of consumer protection advocates in the AG’s office. He says he would hold businesses accountable for serious wrongdoing, which is a heck of a caveat. Just how serious does it have to be before he’d get involved? Does it matter if a company only stole $100 from you, rather than thousands? The Strib article also included this really classically Republican quote:

He would focus on protecting seniors in assisted living facilities from neglect and abuse, noting his late father who had dementia did not receive adequate care at one nursing home and had to be moved to another.

Seniors in assisted living facilities absolutely need protection from neglect and abuse. (This is in fact something Ellison’s office has worked on!) But it’s sure telling that the one area of consumer protection Schultz wants to talk about is the one where a family member has suffered unnecessarily. This is such a chronic Republican thing (where they suddenly recognize that something is a problem when it happens to them, their spouse, one of their parents, or one of their kids — because this is the set of people on whom they’re disinclined to blame the victim) that I thought surely there was a term for it but I’m not finding it. Maybe there isn’t! Maybe we should come up with one! Because it’s sure a thing.

Jim Schultz is not a moderate. He’s a right-wing extremist who believes all the same crap as Doug Wardlow, but said with a smile and couched in polite words. I am voting for Keith Ellison and I really hope everyone reading my blog will vote for him as well.

ETA 10/31 to add: Jim Schultz also committed massive campaign finance violations, coordinating with a Super PAC on $800,000 worth of ads. Totally fucking racist ads.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded (or, in the case of the Movement Voter fundraiser, continuing to raise money past their goal). I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and that fundraiser is still active.

I also went looking for some DonorsChoose fundraisers. In Minneapolis, I found a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got. In St. Paul, I found an English teacher at Harding Senior High who would like snacks for her students. In her project intro, she notes, “With a new schedule this year, some students have to wait a very long time to eat lunch everyday. When students are hungry, they cannot focus and most students can’t afford to buy their own snacks.” This made me curious about their schedule. Some students at Harding don’t get to eat lunch until 1 p.m. School starts at 8:30. When I eat breakfast at 7:30 I’m ravenous by noon, never mind 1 p.m. Feeding kids is an absolute no-brainer, seriously.


Primary Elections 2022: Minnesota Attorney General

I actually got an e-mail from someone asking about this one this morning so I’m going to do it quickly (it’s another very straightforward race.)

DFL Attorney General Primary

Keith Ellison (incumbent, DFL-endorsed)
Bill Dahn

I am really pretty happy with the job Keith Ellison has done in the last four years, and I will talk more about this when I write about this race in the general election. In the primary, though, your options here are Keith, and … uh, this other guy. Bill Dahn’s website that he linked from his affidavit doesn’t work. I found another website here but it actually seems to be maintained by Sharon Anderson (also running for AG but on the Republican ticket, see below) and that may explain why so many of the documents on there seem to have literally nothing to do with him? Or possibly not. He has a Twitter on which he airs his two primary grievances, police officers with ‘roid rage and Jesse Ventura having paid the filing fee for him so he could re-register in the GOP primary race for governor instead of the Reform primary race for governor in 1998. (You can find area weirdo Leslie Davis explaining that controversy at great and extensive length here.) To sum up: Bill Dahn is a guy with a list of extremely niche grievances and he doesn’t belong anywhere near the AG’s office. Vote for Keith Ellison.

GOP Attorney General Primary

Jim Schultz (GOP endorsed)
Doug Wardlow
Sharon Anderson

Doug Wardlow is a far-right extremist who pals around with traitors, spreads Trump’s Big Lie about the election, and would one HUNDRED percent do anything he can think of to persecute anyone who comes to Minnesota to get a legal abortion. (Note that his website emphasizes creating a “human trafficking unit” and let’s just be clear about this: the right wing is already working on ways to use human trafficking laws to stop people from crossing state lines in order to get an abortion.)

Jim Schultz is a fellow far-right extremist who’s doing his best to keep his views under wraps by responding to questions about abortion by saying that no one cares about abortion and responding to questions about whether he thinks our elections are fair (n.b.: they are) by just not answering the questions at all (although he has a shout-out to the people who think there was fraud over on his website). Wardlow, of course, calls him a RINO. Schultz is running on crime, crime, and crime, with a website that as close to content-free as he could get it. I just want to note, though, that I really vehemently disagree with his theory that no one actually cares about abortion because we’re all more focused on crime. I care deeply about abortion, and while I think it’s unlikely to be made illegal in Minnesota in the next four years, I absolutely think that the rights of women to engage in interstate travel are going to be up for debate, and the prospect of an Attorney General who’d be tempted to side with the forced-birth legislators in Arkansas is completely unacceptable to me.

Sharon Anderson, okay. I’ve written about her before, a couple of times, but here’s a quick C&P from what’s currently at the top of her blog-slash-election-site. I’ve pasted as plain text to remove all the weird formatting and also the links, go on over to see the original if you want the full effect.

Sharon must because of Medical Malpractice must citre Keith Ellison as the Minnesota AntiChrist.
magner v. gallagher – Google Search
Affiant Widow,White Whistleblower state and alleges re penalty of perjury free speech that in her humnble, opinion Keith Ellison is the Anti Christ, further complicit with former Dnc Chair Tom Perez to Q
Minnesota Attorney General election, 2022 (August 9 Republican primary) – Ballotpediauid Pro Quo dismiss ussc 10-1032 titled Magner vs Gallagher
files Consumer Complaint vs. Facebook, Zuckerberg with her opponent for MN
Jim Schultz (Minnesota)AG Muslin Keith Ellison, who answers to Quran
and not the State and Federal Constitution.
FB exploiting Blindness You Zuckberg are conflictig, arbitrarily, discriminating vs Affiant Sharon Anderson with manulipating e address etc.
THEREFORE: Legal notice to opponent mUSLIN kEITH eLLISON MN AG RE http://sharon4mnag.blogspot.com

Ha ha ha yeah anyway. This lady? WON the Republican Primary back in 1994. She was the Republican candidate in the general election in 1994. (Minnesota politics in the 90s were wild.)

Absolutely any of these candidates would be a disaster as AG but in Sharon’s case the Republican party would be unlikely to rally behind her (they didn’t in 1994, they just pretended that race wasn’t happening) because there’s “saying the quiet part loud” and then there’s … whatever this is. So if I were going with the Chaos Option and voting for Bobagain at the top of the ticket, I’d be tempted to vote for Sharon next. But not because I think she should be AG, just to be clear. I am absolutely voting for Keith Ellison in the general election regardless of who his opponent is.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven. You will also be able to get them from Uncle Hugo’s when it reopens at 2716 E 31st St! (and maybe by mail order now? I’m not sure how much mail order Don is doing while getting ready to re-open.)

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded (or, in the case of the Movement Voter fundraiser, continuing to raise money past their goal). I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and that fundraiser is still active. (Also, I owe some embarrassing readings of my juvenalia to the Internet.)

I also went looking and found two DonorsChoose fundraisers for classrooms at Bethune Community School in North Minneapolis: math manipulatives for pre-K students (this is such a good idea) and a nice book organizer for a first-grade classroom where the shelving is coming apart.

Election 2018: Attorney General

I’m just going to leap into this one, although we’ve got a bit over a month before Election Day, and there might be further developments. This is going to be a very long post.

Also, I was almost done with this post and then lost most of it due to a WordPress glitch. I just want to share that because I AM STILL SUPER MAD ABOUT IT.

A picture of an adorable fuzzy duckling, swimming in the water.



Three candidates are running:

Doug Wardlow (GOP)
Keith Ellison (DFL)
Noah M. Johnson (Grassroots/Legalize Cannabis)

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Elections 2018: Attorney General

EDITED TO ADD: Looking for an alternative to Keith Ellison in light of the domestic abuse allegations? My recommendation would be Mike Rothman: he seems solid and competent, and the lawyers who’ve worked with him all seem to like him. Debra Hilstrom has close ties to Lori Swanson, which is even less appealing now than it was when I wrote this post last month; Matt Pelikan still has a resume I’d consider thin even for a seat in the legislature; and Tom Foley’s defamation lawsuit against WCCO really ticks me off. Mike Rothman looks fine to me, and I’m probably going to vote for him on Tuesday.

Here’s the post I originally wrote about this race:

This is a statewide race. Thanks in part to our ongoing national nightmare, I think people are more aware now than they were for a while that this is an extremely important job.

I’ve never been a fan of Lori Swanson. She was a Mike Hatch protege, and I really didn’t like Mike Hatch. When I saw Pelikan was challenging Swanson for the endorsement, at my SD convention, I grabbed one of his stickers and slapped it on, although there was no “uncommitted for governor, Pelikan for AG” walking subcaucus to join so I thought this was probably pretty quixotic. At the state convention, Pelikan got enough votes to prevent a first-ballot endorsement of Swanson — it was 52% Swanson, 48% (I assume) Pelikan — at which point Swanson dropped out of the race entirely and announced she was running for governor, instead. The convention endorsed Pelikan, and then a bunch of other people, starting with Keith Ellison, jumped into the AG race.

What a year. Anyway, here’s who’s on the ballot:

Mike Rothman
Debra Hilstrom
Matt Pelikan
Tom Foley
Keith Ellison

All five of these people are qualified, legitimate candidates. All of them are lawyers, all of them have relevant experience, none of them are actually Republicans and none of them are loons. (Sharon Anderson is running in the Republican primary, and don’t count her out, she beat Charlie Weaver in the GOP primary back in 1994 and was the Republican AG candidate on the general election ballot.)

Continue reading

Election 2014: U.S. House in District 4 and District 5

Both District 4 (St. Paul and some suburbs) and District 5 (Minneapolis and some suburbs) are rather solidly DFL districts. The 4th District was last represented by a Republican in the late 1940s; the 5th in the 1960s. We do have Republicans running in both these districts this time around and strange things do happen, but these are not generally considered to be competitive races.

In District 4, here’s who’s on the ballot:


Dave Thomas

So whereas the Independence candidate in the Senate race was running somewhere to the right of the Republican, the Independence candidate here (who is actually endorsed by the Independence party, unlike the guy in the Senate race) is running to the left of the Democrat. Whereas the Independence guy in the Senate race is your embarrassing bigoted uncle, the Independence guy in the Congressional race is your extremely liberal and overly enthusiastic very young cousin whose Facebook feed has more than its share dubiously sourced re-shares about the dangers of plastic water bottles or whatever it is this week. When you talk to him at family parties, he wants to buttonhole you about some ISSUE that he is currently passionate about. One Thanksgiving it was the paleo diet; another it was marijuana legalization. You don’t actually disagree with him about much of this stuff, mind you, but his passionate declarations of fervent belief make you realize that you’ve gotten old.

Dave Thomas doesn’t give a bio on his campaign website, which had me wondering if he was still in college. His Facebook page, however, says that he is “an Iraq War veteran, volunteer firefighter and works in the special education department at Brimhall Elementary in Roseville, MN. He is happily married with two beautiful children.”

Anyway! He wants a system of state-funded tuition-free public higher education, and in the meantime we should forgive all loan debt. He wants universal paid maternity leave. He wants a manned mission to Mars and a 5% increase in our National Park lands. He wants energy self-sufficiency in eleven years, he wants marijuana legalization, he wants the NSA to be defunded.

To pay for the stuff like tuition-free college, he wants a new tax code: “A sliding scale, percentage-based flat tax on all income generated (from the federal level) would rectify most of the problematic situations that our current code perpetuates.” I’m not sure what a sliding-scale flat tax is, other than contradictory sounding.

Under Veteran’s Affairs, he suggests that when members of the Armed Service go through extensive training equivalent to a technical degree, we call it an Associate’s Degree. This strikes me as possibly really reasonable (and wouldn’t cost anything extra — essentially it’s a way of upgrading the credentials soldiers are already coming home with into something employers recognize). I wonder why this isn’t what they do now?

Possibly the funniest, from the National Security section “It should be illegal to sell any seed which is unable to produce viable offspring.” So just to be clear: he thinks it should be illegal to grow seedless watermelons. (Marijuana: legalize and tax. Seedless watermelons: BAN.) (I’m sure he’s actually thinking of some of the varieties of corn developed by Monsanto that are specifically designed to make it impossible for you to save seeds. But his proposed legislation basically bans hybrid garden vegetables.) Dammit, Dave Thomas, YOU CAN HAVE MY SEEDLESS WATERMELON WHEN YOU PRY IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS.

Sharna Wahlgren

Sharna is the Republican. She provides a fairly standard political bio (community service on non-profit boards, work ethic honed by high school labor at the State Fair) and states that her priorities are fiscal responsibility, local solutions, and job growth. She’s got a paragraph about each. I salute her willingness to run in a race she’s going to lose, and her pragmatism in accepting that this is not a campaign worth investing a lot of time in.

Betty McCollum

Betty is liberal and hardworking, and has so far avoided embarrassing us with any scandals or criminal behavior. I kind of preferred being represented by Keith Ellison just because he upsets so many Republicans just by existing, but I really have no complaints about Betty. I’m going to vote for her.

In District 5, here’s who’s on the ballot:


Lee Bauer

I clicked on Lee Bauer’s website with trepidation, eager to find out which variety of Independence nutbar I’d find.

I don’t really want to make fun of him, but I wouldn’t vote for him, either. Lee is a blue-collar, working class, gay single father. (Based on the age of his kid, I’m guessing he had a brief marriage to a woman.) He’s earnest and means well but is overly fond of exclamation points and doesn’t know much about most of the issues.

For example, here’s his comment on drug costs: “Prescription drugs, by bring down the price of will benefit the ones with chronic symptoms and the older folks. How about asthma for instance, There is a drug called Albuterol, it was put on the market 1968, the year I was born, Albuterol 5 years ago was $17.00 cash with no insurance, but today it’s $57.00, and if you were to buy in Mexico its less than five dollars for three bottles. One bottle would last a month for most and this is one drug of many that can be lowed.”

I had basically the same question last year — WTF is up with albuterol prices? This is not a new drug; why does it cost so goddamn much? It turns out that this is due to environmental regulations. The old inhalers contained CFCs. CFCs were banned by an international treaty in 1996 because they were causing ozone layer depletion; the albuterol inhalers that used CFCs were phased out in 2008. The new formulation is legally a new drug and so it’s under patent again (or maybe it’s the inhaler design that’s new? I am not 100% sure.) Anyway, that’s why albuterol suddenly costs so much. There were a lot of things that the government could have done differently to mitigate the situation; I would be a lot more interested in his ideas if he got into any of that, but he doesn’t.

Anyway, a lot of his website is like that.

Doug Daggett

Doug has another fairly standard political bio (his first job was delivering the morning paper). He’s 50, married, a tech sales person, and reasonably competent with Twitter. He presents himself as a fairly moderate Republican, suggesting changes to the Affordable Care Act rather than demanding it be immediately repealed. (He thinks people should have catastrophic coverage policies and HSAs.)

The bit that made me roll my eyes and think, “so very Republican” was this bit on education:

We all want our children to have a great education and great opportunities. Yet in Minneapolis, most likely 1/2 of our children (46%) will not graduate. This is an economic and social disaster for all of us in the 5th Congressional District! We need a leader who will get Washington DC out of our schools and allow teachers and parents to decide what’s best for our children. Doug Daggett is that leader.

Minneapolis is doing a crap job, therefore get Washington DC out because local control is the answer!

Keith Ellison

Keith is a solidly liberal, hard-working Representative who so far hasn’t embarrassed his constituents with scandals or criminal behavior.

But what I really adored about Keith Ellison back when I was living in Minneapolis was being able to tell my out-of-town friends that I was represented by a pro-Choice pro-marriage-equality Muslim black guy. Keith Ellison has been making right-wing heads explode since he took his Oath of Office on Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Koran.

Were I living in Minneapolis, I would definitely vote for Keith.