We’ve been following developments in Minnesota’s DFL Party as representative of the crosscurrents roiling the party nationally. The contest between appointed incumbent Tina Smith and new Democrat Richard Painter for what was Al Franken’s Senate seat must top the marquee. Smith is an utterly vacuous metropolitan leftist who formerly served as Governor Mark Dayton’s lieutenant governor. University of Minnesota Law School professor Richard Painter identified himself as a Republican when he served in the Bush (43) White House counsel’s office and when he endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in the 2016 election.
Painter continued to hold himself out as a Republican as he made a name for himself disparaging Trump on the cable channels after the election. As of this past April, however, Painter was unsure whether he would seek Smith’s seat as a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent. Once he declared himself a Democratic candidate this past April, I posed 10 questions to Painter upon the announcement of his candidacy that month. I posed the questions by email at his invitation when I asked him for an interview.
I never heard back from Painter. Was it something I asked? My question number 2 was: “You have held yourself out as a Republican during your career and at the time you endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in the fall of 2016. When did you first identify yourself as a Democrat?”
The Star Tribune has provided no help at all. Party bigwigs have therefore taken it upon themselves to try to nail Painter down, but he has obliged them no more than he has obliged me. The Star Tribune covers the tussle between Painter and DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin in “DFL in bitter clash with Senate candidate Richard Painter.”
Painter has abandoned the Republican Party but he declines to declare himself a Democrat. It’s a sad situation. What party has he?
The Star Tribune article picks up on another theme that I took up last month. When Painter was on the cable channels bashing Trump, he advertised himself and was advertised as a former Bush (43) White House ethics czar. Based on my own reporting, I understood him to have grossly inflated his job description and duties in the Office of White House Counsel. As I noted a few weeks ago, Professor Painter is now retouching his self-portrait for current purposes.
DFL Chairman Martin is having none of it. He torments Painter for his exaggerated service in the Bush White House by taking it at face value. Martin too is a DFL loon: “He said Painter should apologize for the waterboarding of terrorism suspects and the nominations of conservative Supreme Court justices during his tenure in the second Bush White House.”
The Democrats are nuts. They deserve each other. But what about the rest of us?
Incidentally, I am still waiting to hear from Martin in response to my question regarding the endorsed DFL candidate for Minnesota’s fifth congressional district. Is it okay for a DFL candidate to characterize Israel as a racist state? I can’t find a prominent Minnesota Democrat who will answer the question and the Star Tribune has been no help either.