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Jim Schultz wins GOP attorney general primary

The Associated Press called the race for Schultz at around 10:35 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9. With 73% of precincts reporting, Schultz had 54% of the vote, with candidate Doug Wardlow at 35%. Perennial candidate Sharon Anderson had around 12% of the vote.

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Minnesota Republican attorney general candidate Jim Schultz at his primary election night party Tuesday , Aug. 9, at Burger Moe's on West Seventh Street near downtown St. Paul.
Alex Derosier / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — Political newcomer Jim Schultz won the Republican primary for attorney general.

The Associated Press called the race for Schultz at around 10:35 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9. With 73% of precincts reporting, Schultz had 54% of the vote, with candidate Doug Wardlow at 35%. Perennial candidate Sharon Anderson had around 12% of the vote.

Spirits were high at Schultz's election night party at a bar just west of downtown St. Paul Tuesday night as Schultz drew closer to statistical certainty he'd clinch the GOP nomination. He credited his success to a focus on a rise in violent crime over issues like abortion, which he said is best left to legislators.

"We're going to continue working hard because we're on a mission to restore public safety to our state, and I think people are responding to that," the first-time candidate said in an interview with Forum News Service at his campaign party. "We focused ... the vast majority of our time on articulating the case that we need to focus on public safety in this race."

Schultz and fellow Republican Wardlow styled themselves as "law and order" candidates, but Schulz, despite being an abortion opponent, has avoided campaigning on the issue.

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"I'm focused like a laser beam on ensuring we defeat Keith Ellison, and I'm really focused on the crime message," Schultz said in an interview at his campaign party Tuesday night in St. Paul. "I think people responded to that."

Schultz will run in the general election for an office that has been held by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party since 1971. No Republican has won statewide office since 2006.

The Associated Press on Tuesday night called the DFL primary for incumbent Keith Ellison. At 10:30 p.m., with 60% of precincts reporting, Ellison held a commanding lead over DFL candidate Bill Dahn, with 89% of the vote to Dahn's 11%.

Schultz in May won his party’s endorsement, which Wardlow had initially pledged to honor. A few days after the convention, Wardlow announced he would run in the primary against Schultz, claiming he had been denied the nomination by political insiders and “Republicans in name only.” Minnesota Republicans typically honor the party endorsement at their state convention.

As Minnesota’s top legal officer, the attorney general represents the state and its agencies in lawsuits, enforces consumer protection and antitrust laws and regulates charities. The office takes consumer complaints and can use its power to prosecute businesses that violate the law. It also assists smaller jurisdictions with fewer resources in prosecuting serious crimes.

Ellison faced criticism from both Republicans who say he has not done enough to tackle a rise in violent crime. Both Schultz and Wardlow hail from Twin Cities metro-area suburbs and styled themselves as “law-and-order” candidates.

Abortion is also an issue following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, which ended nearly 50 years of federal abortion protections. The right to an abortion remains constitutionally protected in Minnesota under the 1995 state Supreme Court decision Doe v. Gomez, rendering the state a virtual island in the Upper Midwest for legal abortion.

In July, a Ramsey County District Court judge further expanded abortion rights in Minnesota by blocking existing laws, including a 24-hour wait period and requirement for minors to disclose and obtain consent from both parents in order to get an abortion. The state had 60 days to file an appeal in the ruling, which Ellison declined to do.

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Ellison has vowed to protect abortion rights in Minnesota. Ahead of the Supreme Court’s June decision on Roe, Ellison said he would protect women seeking abortions in Minnesota from prosecution and lawsuits from states where abortion is illegal.

He has also described himself as a leader for criminal justice reform. Ellison’s office successfully prosecuted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd as well as Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright.

Election Day is Nov. 8.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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