Run, Richard, run!

University of Minnesota Law School Professor Richard Painter has announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a possible Senate candidacy. He is interested in the seat held by the appointed Democratic incumbent, Tina Smith. According to the Star Tribune, Painter is “unsure whether he would run as a Republican, Democrat or independent.” He’s funny-peculiar that way.

John would prefer that Painter not run for the Republican nomination, and that is a completely reasonable position. It is not clear if he is a Republican, though he found it useful to identify himself as such when he endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. He would not find it useful if he were to seek the Republican nomination. I doubt that is what he has in mind. He would be crushed by Karin Housley if he were to contest the nomination with her. If that is what he has in mind, however, I urge him to go for it. I would enjoy watching him be crushed.

Holding himself out as a Republican is not the only funny-peculiar thing about Professor Painter. He also holds himself out as an ethics guru. If he took the ethics shtick seriously, he wouldn’t go around calling conservative Republicans like us “far-right extremists.” That is a profoundly pathetic ploy of the mindless left. Painter’s belief in ethics is approximately as serious as his Republican bona fides. He is — how to put it? — a phony.

Painter might be able to give Tina Smith a run for her money in Minnesota’s DFL Party, though it would be difficult for him to get to Smith’s left, where the action is. They are both left-wing urban liberals. Painter, however, just might be able to do it. He is a popular MSNBC guest who has built up his name identification in the course of several appearances on the nutters’ favorite cable channel.

In the DFL-heavy Fifth District, where the law school is located, for example, Painter could appeal to the 30,000 voters who opted in 2016 for the Legal Marijuana Now congressional candidate in addition to the voters who stuck with Keith Ellison. He is second to none in his criticism of Donald Trump and the Trump administration. Painter’s wild-eyed denunciations of Trump would go down very smoothly indeed with the Legal Marijuana Now crowd as well as the DFL regulars.

Yet Painter probably best fits the profile of an Independent candidate. He presents a sort of intellectual counterpart to Jesse Ventura’s act. As an Independent, Painter would not be hobbled by the constraints of any party line. He would be free to call the shots as he sees them. He can hold himself out as a good-government type. After a fundraiser with Legal Marijuana Now crowd, he might even fantasize that he could win the race as an Independent.

On a personal note, I offer one additional ground for urging him to run in whatever party he sees fit. As an alumnus of the University of Minnesota Law School, I would dearly love my fellow Minnesotans to see the sort of nutter who holds an endowed chair at my alma mater. There are more where he came from. His candidacy would provide a useful education for Minnesota taxpayers.

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