Candidate's View: Minnesotans need attorney general to stand for families, not special interests

I recently had the opportunity to talk with a mother whose son is graduating from college soon with a degree in computer science. He has done everything we tell our kids to do. He studied hard, got into college, and is getting a degree in a promi...

2923762+Opinion 1.jpg
Denfeld’s 1947 boys basketball team is the only Denfeld basketball team to win a state title. The team’s head coach was Lloyd Holm. Team members were Rudy Monson, Larry Tessier, Paul Nace, Kenneth Sunnarborg, Eugene Norlander, Howard Tucker, Tony Skull, Jerry Walczak, Bruce Budge, Keith Stolen and student manager Bob Scott.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with a mother whose son is graduating from college soon with a degree in computer science. He has done everything we tell our kids to do. He studied hard, got into college, and is getting a degree in a promising field. He is exactly the kind of bright young mind we should be working hard to keep in Minnesota.

Keith Ellison

There's only one problem: he has Crohn's disease. Crohn's can be a tough fight even with good health care coverage. But his family isn't sure he's going to be able to get good health care that he can afford, especially as a new college graduate in an uncertain economy. So now his mother is telling him to look at jobs in Canada - because there at least he knows he'll have good health coverage that won't break the bank.

Unfortunately, their situation is not unique. Throughout Minnesota, families are working harder than ever and seeing less and less for it. Health care is getting more expensive for seniors and families. Students continue to take on high debt to get through college. Jobs are not paying enough to support a good life. And savings have evaporated for many families.

This didn't happen by accident. It used to be possible for hard-working families to live a good life, save for a comfortable retirement, and help put their kids through college. But the richest individuals and biggest corporations in our country have used their money, power, and influence to tilt the scales even further in their favor.


Minnesotans need an attorney general who will enforce the law to reduce health care costs, make our economy more fair, and defend the rights of all Minnesotans. I will be a "people's lawyer," who will hold those in power accountable when they step on your rights - whether that's health insurance and pharmaceutical companies raising prices, student-loan providers cheating borrowers, or the federal government infringing upon a woman's right to choose.

This is work I have been doing my whole life, starting with 16 years as a public-defense lawyer. That work included five years as executive director of the nonprofit Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis, where I managed a team of defense lawyers who stood up for the constitutional right of all Minnesotans to a fair trial. I took that experience to the state Legislature and Congress, where I fought for more than a decade for Minnesota consumers, workers, and families.

Unfortunately, my Republican opponent, Doug Wardlow, doesn't seem to share the same priorities for Minnesota families. He works for a special-interest group and could use the attorney general's office to put more power into the hands of big corporations. He said he would not have pursued a settlement, secured by current Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, that required a big corporation to pay to clean up water it polluted. He supports efforts to undermine collective bargaining, allowing companies to pay workers less and offer fewer benefits. He doesn't think pharmaceutical manufacturers should be sued for the millions they made in profits off the opioid crisis. And he supports efforts to repeal coverage for pre-existing conditions, giving health care companies the power to deny people coverage or charge them more.

Big corporations and the very wealthy already have high-powered attorneys on their side. Most Minnesota families don't. That is why I am asking for Minnesotans to vote for a "people's lawyer" by Nov. 6: Because I will always be a fighter on their side for affordable health care, an economy that works for working families, and equal rights and opportunities for all.


Keith Ellison of Minneapolis is the DFL candidate for Minnesota attorney general. He wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page. A "Candidate's View" column by the Republican candidate, Doug Wardlow, was published online on Sunday. Election Day is Nov. 6.

What To Read Next
Get Local