Senate hopeful Painter’s party ties cause flare-up

U.S. Senate candidate Richard Painter feuded Friday with the DFL Party, whose line he hopes to occupy on the November ballot in his bid to head to Washington.

The reason? Painter declined to call himself a Democrat in an MPR News story that aired Thursday about his primary race with Sen. Tina Smith, a DFLer who was appointed to the job in January. The party flap cropped up because Painter, until recently, was a self-professed Republican who gained attention for his sharp criticism of President Donald Trump.

DFL officials have accused Painter of political opportunism. Party spokesperson Ellen Perrault emailed reporters Thursday night, charging that Painter was running in a DFL primary “not because he believes in the DFL Party or the values DFLers fight for, but because he viewed it as an easier path than running as a Republican.”

Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor and former White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, shot back Friday with a statement professing that his stances on key issues in the race align with “the vast majority of Democratic voters.” Painter has run to the left of Smith on some environmental issues.

His campaign said in a statement that he would caucus with Democrats in Washington if he wins but said that forcing candidates to declare allegiance is “a dangerous litmus test.”

“Richard Painter WILL NOT swear an oath of allegiance to any person or party, his allegiance is to the people of the United States of America,” the statement concludes.

The winner of the Aug. 14 primary will face a Republican in November for a two-year stint. State Sen. Karin Housley is the heavy favorite for the GOP nod. Independent Jerry Trooien and Legal Marijuana Now candidate Sarah Wellington will also be on the fall ballot.

  • gus

    The DFL supports hundreds of years of copper-nickel mining pollution in the watersheds of our only wilderness and pristine Lake Superior. Painter does not. Why would he want to be beholden to such destructive policies?

  • T&C haug

    A candidate who opposes and would procecute Trump, not kowtow to the Dick and Nancy comedy Dem team, be able to talk and work with members outside of his caucus…..what’s not to like? As a mid-stream Republican, this guy will get my primary vote, in the hopes of a better tomorrow.

  • It’s overdue to look at CANDIDATES positions–NOT the “D” or “R” by their name. I KNOW what the Republican Party (& most of its candidates) stand for: increasing wealth & power in the hands of a FEW; rolling back ANY protections of civil rights, workers rights, women’s rights & “DE=regulation”–meaning DROPPING PROTECTIONS for public health & our environment. What I NO LONGER know is WHAT DOES THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY STAND FOR? The Democratic Leadership Council (1985 to 2013)–most obviously led by Bill & Hillary Clinton–had the goal (in Bill’s words) to “make the Democratic Party more business friendly”. Result? A Democratic Party that represents CORPPRATIONS & their “privatization” project putting BUSINESSES in charge of prisons, public schools, social services and more–and doing so while still TALKING like “liberals”. In other words, much of the SAME agenda as the Republican Party, only LESS BRAZEN about it and more invested in people of color, women and lesbian & gay people being VISIBLE (in other words TOKENISM).

    The Democratic Party USED to be pro-LABOR: for 25+ years the party USES unions as an ATM for campaign contributions & GOTV drives—but, FAILS to DEFEND working people’s union-organizing rights or even BASICS like raising the minimum-wage to $15 an hour(if min.wage had just KEPT UP WITH INFLATION since 1968, it would now be $22 an hour!!!). While taking Black people’s votes FOR GRANTED, the Democratic Party has gone along with HORRIBLE polices like the “war on drugs”, mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. hat have objectively HARMED that community Democrats also FAILED to ENFORCE Civil Rights laws from job discrimination to housing discrimination

    FIND OUT MORE ABOUT RICHARD PAINTER: FRI. AUG. 3, 1pm KFAI RADIO 90.3 FM Twin Cities. Listen after broadcast on CATALYST at kfai (dot) org

    Appointed Tina Smith OPPOSES Medicare For All (EVERY other Western democracy ahs some sort of single payer health care EXCEPT the U.S>). Smith SUPPORTS REPEAL of Medical Device taxes that are part of what pays for the ACA—and can it be a “coincidence” that Smith has MILLIONS OF DOLLARS invested in Medical Device Companies? RICHARD PAINTER SUPPORTS Medicare For ALL, in part because it will be GOOD FOR SMALL BUSINESSES.

    Finally, the Dems are SUPPOSED to be ENVIRONMENTALISTS: so, WHY did MN’s U.S. Senators TINA SMITH & AMY KLOBUCHAR with N.Mn REP, RICK NOLAN–ALL Democrats—SUPPORT POLYMET’S dangerous sulfide mine on Lake Superior? That’s supposed to be a REPUBLICAN position to favor POLLUTORS over the environment.

    RICHARD PAINTER has integrity & independence & MORE GUTS than most Democrats who are as BOGHT OFF. Yo NEVER know HOW a Democrat will vote on an issue—today a representative or senator can vote “liberal” but, next year it’s their turn to “take a bullet” for the team and vote AGAINST a liberal proposal. I’ve concluded RICHARD PAINTER has CHARACTER & CONSCIENCE–and that’s worth one’s vote—especially in the age of Trump and mushy, fearful Democratic politicians who quake & quiver & DO NOTHING to protect our democracy.