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Keith Ellison Abuse Claims Taking Center Stage In Attorney General Race

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- As the nation focuses on allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, a #MeToo claim continues to be a major focus in the race for Minnesota's attorney general.

A former girlfriend accuses DFL nominee Keith Ellison of physical and emotional abuse. Congressman Ellison continues to deny those allegations.

Polls show this is a very tight race. A KSTP/Survey USA poll released September 16 shows Republican challenger Doug Wardlow and Ellison with 41 percentage points each. The Star Tribune/Minnesota Poll released September 19 shows Ellison with a five-point lead. That is still within the margin of error.

Are the accusations against Rep. Ellison having any impact on the race? It depends on who you ask. Ellison says no, while Wardlow says yes.

There has not been a Republican Minnesota attorney general since 1972, and the polls clearly show this is a very tight race.

As Ellison campaigned at a north Minneapolis church, he says voters are not asking him about the allegations.

"They want to talk about health care, they want to talk about, sometimes, immigration," Ellison said.

Wardlow disagrees.

"I know that the voters are coming to me and they're talking to me about the allegations quite a bit," Wardlow said.

The two candidates have dramatically different views on almost all issues.

Keith Ellison and Doug Wardlow
Keith Ellison and Doug Wardlow (credit: CBS)

Wardlow is personally against abortion rights, gay marriage and the expansion of transgender rights. So, is he mainstream enough to be elected attorney general of Minnesota?

"Of course I'm mainstream enough. I have very mainstream positions, and the fact of the matter is that the attorney general's office is a law enforcement position, it's not a policy-making position," Wardlow said.

He says as attorney general, he will defend existing laws he opposes. An exception is sanctuary city protections for illegal immigrants, which some Minnesota cities -- including Minneapolis and St. Paul -- have in place

"As attorney general, I am going to look for ways to fight against sanctuary city policies because I think they violate federal law," Wardlow said.

Ellison says he will work to protect sanctuary city measures, and for working Minnesotans.

"The reason I jumped into this race in the beginning is because I was shocked at how difficult it is for Americans to afford their lives, for Minnesotans to afford their lives," Ellison said.

Political analyst Professor Larry Jacobs says Ellison could be in trouble in this tight race.

"The big problem for Keith Ellison right now is he's on the defensive," Jacobs said. "He is not presenting his agenda, instead he is defending himself."

Ellison asked the House Ethics Committee Wednesday to investigate his former partner's abuse claims against him. He says he did that to help clear his name.

A separate investigation into the claims against Ellison by the DFL Party of Minnesota is expected to be released any day.

If you want to get more information on all the candidates, and the issues, check out the WCCO Election Guide online.

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