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Our View / Endorsement: Remove politics from AG's office with Wardlow

With a cloud of concern and controversy still lingering over his opponent, Doug Wardlow, although lesser known, is an impressively qualified candidate for state attorney general and one Minnesotans can support with confidence on Election Day on Nov. 6.

Doug WardlowWardlow has been practicing law for 14 years after going to law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He clerked for Justice Barry Anderson of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and he worked for the largest law firm in the U.S., that work including combating steel dumping and other illegal trade practices of China. He has done every kind of civil litigation, he said, including employer, employment, business, and contracts. And he has extensive experience with constitutional law.

Most important to Minnesota voters, Wardlow has a clear, spot-on vision for the lead roles the Minnesota attorney general's office should be playing.

"The office has become very politicized, so I'm running to take the politics out of the office and just get back to doing good legal work in the state for the people of Minnesota," Wardlow said this fall in an interview with the News Tribune Editorial Board. "This office can be doing so much good for our state and is supposed to be doing so much good for our state. It's supposed to be a check on the rest of government, an independent office within the executive branch. It's supposed to be there to stand up for the people's rights and to protect consumers."

Under Wardlow, public safety once again would be a priority in the attorney general's office.

"When Skip Humphrey was attorney general, he had a robust criminal-law division and the office was known for doing good work, regardless of party, for the whole state," the Republican candidate said. "There's not much of a criminal law division left, which is really unfortunate."

A strong criminal-law division could help combat human-trafficking, opioids, and other crises that are only worsening in Minnesota. Duluth city leaders could have used an attorney general like Wardlow when they were struggling to eliminate our downtown's synthetic-drug scourge.

Under Wardlow — who was raised in Eagan, Minn., both his parents schoolteachers, and who lives now in Prior Lake, Minn. — the attorney general's office will be a strong advocate for consumer protection, for seniors targeted by financial scams, and for other little guys. The victims of domestic abuse will have the resources they need while their abusers are brought to justice, he vowed.

"The attorney general, I think, should be taking the lead and coordinating with state and local law enforcement, and federal authorities as well, to deal with the problems, to tackle them from all angles. That's just not happening right now," Wardlow said. "We need leadership at the state level and we need to coordinate with state and local law enforcement and our frontline prosecutors and county attorneys to handle all aspects."

Current Attorney General Lori Swanson ran this year for governor instead.

Wardlow's DFL opponent is U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, whose campaign has been hampered by abuse allegations he denies. The matter is far from settled, however, creating uncertainty and concern in the minds of voters.

"These allegations are important. I have not rushed past them," Ellison said in a separate interview. "I believe most people will believe me. Some may not. At the end of the day I'm trying to convince people that this is a matter of who will be the best attorney general. ... I think I can help more people faster as AG than I can in Congress. One of the biggest problems that any family is facing is just affording their lives. The AG can help with that quite a lot."

In a competitive race with qualified candidates, Wardlow's vision for the office sets him apart.

"The office is about standing up for the rule of law, and that shouldn't be political at all," Wardlow said.

Voters on Nov. 6 can agree.

About this endorsement

This News Tribune endorsement editorial was determined entirely by the newspaper's Editorial Board. The board's members are Publisher Neal Ronquist, Editorial Page Editor Chuck Frederick, employee representative Kris Vereecken, citizen representative Julene Boe and citizen representative Denise Wise.