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GOP attorney general candidate Doug Wardlow wants to uphold the laws, not play politics

From the ELECTION 2018: Our stories on Minnesota candidates who came to Winona series
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Doug Wardlow wants to take the politics out of the Minnesota attorney general’s office.

That’s why the 40-year-old Eagan attorney is trying to become the first Republican since 1971 — that’s seven years before he was born — to hold the office.

Wardlow shared his message with supporters from Fillmore, Winona and Houston counties at meet-and-greet at Loken’s Rushford Inn on Tuesday night in Rushford in advance of the Aug. 14 primaries.

“I think it’s important that we bring balance to the office,” Wardlow said in a phone interview earlier in the day Tuesday. “I want to take the politics out of the office. Too often, the current attorney general has used the office to sue President Trump. It’s too political, and it’s ignoring the duties of the office.”

Instead, Wardlow said, he wants to use the office to its resources toward fighting crime, both at the state and local level.

“The criminal law division of the attorney general’s office has been eviscerated,” Wardlow said. “We need to keep our communities safe, we need to put more resources toward helping out our county attorneys, because they are our front-line prosecutors.”

Wardlow is one of three Republicans running in the Aug. 14 primary, but he’s considered the runaway favorite.

Sharon Anderson has been a regular candidate for local and statewide office over the past 15 years, including two failed bids to win the Republican attorney general nomination. And Robert Lessard is an 87-year-old former DFL state senator.

On social media, Wardlow has used the lack of a strong primary challenge to start taking shots at Keith Ellison, the U.S. representative from Minneapolis and one of the faces of the national progressive movement within the Democratic Party.

Ellison is one of five DFLers seeking the nomination, along with former Ramsey County attorney and Wabasha native Tom Foley, state Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-endorsed attorney Matt Pelikan and former state commerce commissioner Mike Rothman.

Wardlow didn’t mention Ellison by name in the phone interview — although several times he did re-state his desire to take the politics out of the office, no doubt a wink and a nod to those who think Ellison will use the post to fight Trump in the courtroom. Rather, he spent time talking about his priorities.

Aside from focusing on crime, Wardlow wanted to roll back “unconstitutional regulations,” such as the buffer law.

“We’re going to take a look at all the different agencies, different regulations and make sure they are applied in a way that’s legal,” Wardlow said. “It’s important for the attorney general to fight for our constitution.”

While he didn’t know the specifics of the frac sand ban in Winona County, he said that Minnesota needs to “lift the burden of regulation.”

“We have a regulatory state that’s overgrown and it’s hurting job creating, hurting the economy,” he said.

He’d also focus on welfare fraud and election integrity. He would use the power of the office to stop sanctuary cities and make sure local governments are enforcing immigration law.

He agrees with his DFL counterparts that the office needs to do something about the opioid crisis, but he would go after more than just the drug manufacturers.

“We need to look at all different aspects of the problem,” Wardlow said. “We need to make sure to have the resources to prosecute the opioid pushers and those who sell them on the black market as well. We need to do all those different things.”

Everyone running for the attorney general’s office wants to brand themselves as the people’s lawyer. Wardlow said he will accomplish that by enforcing laws and the constitution.

“I have a background in constitutional law,” he said. “It’s important that the attorney general fight for our constitution.”

“The criminal law division of the attorney general’s office has been eviscerated. We need to keep our communities safe, we need to put more resources toward helping out our county attorneys, because they are our front-line prosecutors.”

Doug Wardlow, GOP candidate

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