MINNEAPOLIS — (AP) — Keith Ellison gave up a safe seat in Congress to run for Minnesota attorney general, calling it his counterattack against Donald Trump best chance for policy. Now caught up in a tough re-election campaign, he sees him as far less of a partisan fighter than critics claim.
Ellison took office in 2018 in a position that Democrats have traditionally won comfortably. But in the eyes of some voters, he is a polarizing figure. The outspoken progressive comes from the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, and Republicans have sought to draw attention to his past links to Islamic State leader Louis Farrakhan, Although Ellison publicly dropped Faracan when he first ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006.
He is running for re-election as attorney general after a tumultuous four years that brought Minnesota into the spotlight for the police killing of George Floyd and other black men. His Republican opponent, hedge fund lawyer Jim Schultz, said Ellison should bear most of the blame for the ensuing surge in violent crime.
To fight back, Ellison used this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to remove abortion rights to unite Democrats and swing voters in the suburbs. He also urged those voters to focus on his work on more day-to-day issues, such as affordable health care and prescription drugs, consumer and business fraud protection, and worker protection from wage theft — all of which are in line with his image not, he said.
“They think I’m going to be a demagogue, and I’m going to end up being a pretty pragmatic guy,” Ellison said in an interview. “That’s true of my entire service.”
When Floyd died in 2020 under the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Ellison was already leading a major effort to increase police accountability. Ellison continued to lead the prosecution team, convicting Chauvin of murder the following year, a verdict that could have avoided another outbreak of violence.
Ellison also took a step his Republican critics are now trying to use against him. He strongly supports a Minneapolis charter amendment stemming from the “defund the police” movement. It will replace the city’s police department with a loosely defined public safety department, details to be worked out at a later date. Voters rejected it.
On the campaign trail, Schultz described Ellison as “at the forefront of the movement to defund police” and blamed the movement for the departure of hundreds of disaffected police officers in Minneapolis and elsewhere. He blamed the losses on a surge in gun violence, carjackings and other crimes since the pandemic.
“On the far left, extreme politicians like Keith Ellison have endorsed really reckless policies like defunding the police,” Schultz said in an interview. “This is a big mistake. This It’s immoral.”
Violent crime has been on the rise in Minnesota since the pandemic began, with Minneapolis accounting for most of the increase, while its police force has shed about 300 officers, short of its authorized numbers. Compared to 2020, Minnesota saw a 21.6 percent increase in violent crime statewide in 2021, a 16 percent increase in Greater Minnesota, and a 23.9 percent increase in Minneapolis-St. Louis. Paul Metropolitan Area.
Ellison said he did not regret supporting the charter amendment, but said he never supported “defunding the police” and said it did not accurately describe the amendment.
He also dismissed Schultz’s claim that he was hostile to the police, saying he believed the police were a noble profession and that Chauvin was more prone to contempt and demoralization than anything he had done.
“I’m the one indicting him for killing George Floyd,” Ellison said. “So I’m the one trying to restore police honor and dignity.”
Ellison also led the prosecution of former Brooklyn Center official Kim Porter, who said she confused her gun with her Taser when she killed Daunte Wright at a traffic stop last year. In December, she was convicted of manslaughter. Schultz has said he would support reducing her sentence by two years.
Crime isn’t the only issue that has Schultz, a 36-year-old political freshman, hoping to be a Republican in the attorney general’s office since 1971. He also accused Ellison of being “incredibly incompetent” in failing to stop a massive fraud scheme in its early stages, with 49 people so far accused of stealing at least $250 million from the state-run federal program to end the fraud Nutritious meals for low-income children during a pandemic. Ellison countered that his office helped expose the fraud.
If Ellison is to survive the attack and police criticism to win a second term, abortion rights are likely to be the issue to do just that.
Schultz vowed this spring to use his powers as attorney general to vigorously defend the unborn. After Roe was overthrown, he joined many other Republicans trying to get rid of abortion and return to crime in a state where abortion rights are protected by the state constitution.
Meanwhile, Ellison brought New York Attorney General Letitia James to Minnesota in early September to raise money from abortion rights advocates in the legal profession. Soon after, he visited an abortion clinic in Moorhead, which crosses the border from Fargo, North Dakota, to escape a trigger ban on abortions. Ellison vowed early that his office would not cooperate if other states tried to prosecute women who came to Minnesota for abortions.
Ellison said the election was not just about abortion rights or crime. Trump’s rhetoric, Jan. He said the June 6 riots, the Supreme Court’s abortion decision and the rise of “MAGA Republicans” have called democracy into question.
“It’s something we can’t do,” Ellison said. “We can’t tell people we got this. Frankly, I’m glad people see my game close because it means they’ll show up.”
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