When University of Minnesota Law School Professor Richard Painter announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a possible Senate candidacy last month, I urged him to follow his heart and go for it. He is interested in the seat held by the appointed Democratic incumbent, Tina Smith. According to the Star Tribune, however, Painter was “unsure whether he would run as a Republican, Democrat or independent.” Clarifying the issue of party identification as well as his interest in the job, Painter has now filed papers with the Federal Election Commission declaring his intention to run for the Senate in Minnesota this year as a Democrat.
Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith are both up for election this November. If Painter runs, he will obviously seek to wrest the Democratic nomination from Smith. Let it be!
Reporting Painter’s impending candidacy, the Star Tribune asserts that Painter is “a longtime Republican.” That is an unfriendly signal to the Star Tribune’s Democratic following. I would say that Painter found it useful to identify himself as a Republican when he endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. He also found it useful for his bookings on MSNBC, as in Hugh Hewitt’s close encounter with Painter earlier this month (below).
Painter also holds himself out as an ethics guru. If he took the ethics shtick seriously, he wouldn’t go around as he does calling conservatives names. Painter’s belief in ethics is approximately as serious as his Republican bona fides. He is a phony. We trust that he will find life as a Democratic pol to be his true calling as he resolves his midlife identity crisis.
Yet Painter probably best fits the profile of an Independent candidate. He presents a sort of high-minded elitist counterpart to Jesse Ventura’s man of the people routine. After a fundraiser with Legal Marijuana Now crowd, he may even fantasize that he could win the race as an Independent. To conjure the delusion that he stands a chance of winning a statewide race under any designation requires a mind-altering substance harder than marijuana.
In the DFL-heavy Fifth District, where the law school is located, Painter may even 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.
As an alumnus of the University of Minnesota Law School, I look forward to my fellow Minnesotans getting a chance to see up close the sort of nutter who holds an endowed chair at my alma mater. There are more where he came from. His candidacy should provide a useful education for Minnesota taxpayers.