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Ellison, Schultz offer differing visions for Attorney General's Office

Ellison, Schultz offer differing visions for Attorney General’s Office
Ellison, Schultz offer differing visions for Attorney General’s Office 02:31

MINNEAPOLIS -- With just over a week remaining until the election, the polls are tightening in major races, including the heated Minnesota attorney general contest.

In tonight's Talking Points, Esme Murphy looks at the race and the sharp differences in the way the candidates plan to use the office if they win.

MORE: WCCO's 2022 Election Guide

For more than 50 years Minnesota's attorney general has been a Democrat. Republican Jim Schultz is hoping to change that. The latest poll on this race shows Schultz opening up a lead. Alpha News/Trafalgar has Schultz with 49.3% to Keith Ellison's 45.7%, with 4.9% undecided. 

Ellison has been in this spot before. Four years ago, October polls showed him trailing Republican Doug Wardlow. Ellison ended up winning that race by four percentage points.

One of the issues separating the candidates is the changes Schultz wants to make to the Attorney General's Office if he wins. Schultz wants to take resources out of the AG's consumer unit and put it towards beefing up criminal prosecutions. Right now, the AG's office only gets involved in a criminal case if a county attorney asks for help. Ellison wants to keep the office structured the way it is, and he wants to continue aggressively pursing consumer issues. 

Schultz was scheduled to be a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning at 10:30 a.m. but cancelled. Ellison was live in studio at 10:30 a.m. 

"It's utter nonsense, the Minnesota attorney general from Walter Mondale to Skip Humphrey to Michael Hatch to Lori Swanson has always been the advocate for consumers," Ellison said. "To get rid of that consumer division and turn it over criminal is really bad policy."

Ellison has, on behalf of Minnesotans, successfully sued Juul, the producer of vaping products. He has joined lawsuits against Exxon and Koch industries over claims they lied about climate change, and he and 35 other attorneys general won a $450 million settlement against opioid manufacturers. 

Schultz says with skyrocketing crime the state needs to prioritize prosecuting criminals to keep Minnesota safe.

You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning with Esme Murphy and Mike Augustyniak every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

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