The Minnesota DFL Party chairman on Monday said "bring it on" in response to a threatened defamation lawsuit by Republican attorney general nominee Jim Schultz, who said the party is misrepresenting his position on abortion.
"They want to sue me, sue me," Ken Martin said. "Bring it on."
The comments came at a state Capitol news conference where Martin stood with DFL state Rep. Kelly Morrison, a physician who practices obstetrics and gynecology, and Sarah Stoesz, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. The three say much is at stake in the attorney general race between Schultz and DFL incumbent Keith Ellison, which polls show is one of the closest statewide contests.
Lawyers for the DFL and the GOP candidate have exchanged letters over the DFL's claim that Schultz wants to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. As evidence, the DFL cited a Minnesota Family Council questionnaire. But Schultz said he never filled out the questionnaire and the council admitted it had "inferred" his position.
In response Monday, Schultz's campaign manager Christine Snell said, "Jim has made clear that, although Jim is pro-life, he will not leverage what should be an apolitical office to advocate for abortion policy."
Martin, Morrison and Stoesz, however, said Schultz has attempted to recently moderate his position as an appeal to centrist voters.
Schultz has supported "very very extreme anti-abortion" views and it wasn't until last summer that Schultz said he'd support an abortion ban after 20 weeks as opposed to more stringent bans earlier in pregnancies, Martin said.
In Minnesota, abortion is constitutionally protected under a 1995 state Supreme Court ruling. But the three described how the next attorney general will have significant discretionary power because federal protections were eliminated with Roe's reversal in June. For example, the Minnesota attorney general could help prosecute women who come here for abortions from neighboring states where it's illegal. Ellison has said he would not cooperate with those prosecutions.
They cite Schultz's former leadership position with the Human LifeLife Alliance, a global nonprofit with a stated goal of making abortion "not just illegal, but unthinkable."
Also, Schultz answered "yes" to the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life survey question about whether he supports a strategic "incremental strategy" toward "establishing respect for human life in our laws," the DFLers said.
And they twice played an audio clip from an Alpha News debate in which Schultz said he would "aggressively defend" First Amendment religious rights, including those of pharmacists who don't want to dispense abortion drugs.
The DFL continues to work to portray Schultz as extreme as a means to woo suburban swing voters. Martin cited a Republican Party memo last week as evidence the GOP is trying to steer off the topic of abortion. "If they're going to appeal to suburban voters, having an anti-abortion position is not going to do it," Martin said.
In her response to the news conference, Snell called Ellison a "pro-abortion extremist" who has "pledged to abuse the attorney general's office to advance those extreme policies."
Then Snell pivoted to Schultz's main campaign theme. "Jim left his job and put his family at risk for one reason: to restore public safety to our state and end kids being shot and moms being carjacked," she said.
Ellison initially was scheduled to attend the news conference, but did not due to a last-minute scheduling change, Martin said.