Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, a Democrat running for her third term as the state's chief legal mind, must fend off challenges not just from her Republican challenger but from two third-party candidates with some potential to drain support from left-leaning voters.
Former DFL state representative Andy Dawkins joined the AG race on Tuesday as the Green Party candidate. A one-time Democratic candidate for mayor of St. Paul, Dawkins said he migrated to the Green Party because he believes both Democrats and Republicans are corrupted by big-dollar corporate donors.
"Big money is at the bottom line of what gets passed into law these days," said Dawkins, who served in the Legislature from 1987 to 2003 and is married to a recently departed Dayton administration official.
The Republican candidate is state Sen. Scott Newman, from Hutchinson. Running for the Independence Party is Brandan Borgos, a Minneapolis attorney who is also an activist in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
With the liberal Dawkins and Borgos, whose views are a mix of liberal and libertarian, now both in the race, Swanson will have to try to hang on to left-leaning voters. But Ken Martin, the DFL chairman, said he's not worried about Swanson's prospects.
"Attorney General Swanson is one of our highest vote-getters, and one of the most popular politicians we have on our ticket," Martin said.
Like Borgos, Dawkins said he's in favor of legalizing marijuana. He has his own unique history with the issue: as a candidate for St. Paul mayor in 1993, Dawkins admitted during a debate to having smoked marijuana within the past five years. He went on to lose the race to fellow Democrat Norm Coleman, who switched to the Republican Party three years later.
Asked Tuesday if he had smoked marijuana in the last five years, Dawkins declined to answer.
"You know, it was a dumb question then, and it's a dumb question now," Dawkins said. "Are you going to ask if I drink sugar with my coffee?"