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Former Bush Ethics Lawyer Painter to Run for Senate as Democrat

Will challenge incumbent Democrat Tina Smith in Minnesota

(Painter for US Senate via Facebook)
(Painter for US Senate via Facebook)

Richard Painter, a former chief ethics lawyer in George W. Bush’s administration, will challenge incumbent Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith this year as a Democrat.

Painter, who had previously formed an exploratory committee for a Senate run, will announce his candidacy in a news conference on Monday, his campaign announced.

Painter will challenge Smith in the Democratic Farm-Labor Party primary.

Smith was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to the seat after the resignation of former Sen. Al Franken.

Painter served as the White House’s chief ethics lawyer in the Bush administration from 2002 to 2005. He has been a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School since 2007.

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Painter has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump on cable TV. He is also vice chairman of the Center for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, which sued Trump for violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Its case was dismissed in December.

Smith said she intends to run for a full term in 2020, when the current term expires, as well as this November.

Minnesota has a second Senate race as Sen. Amy Klobuchar is running for re-election.

So far, state Sen. Karin Housley is the only Republican who has declared her candidacy to challenge Smith.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Smith’s race as Likely Democratic. Klobuchar’s race is rated Solid Democratic.

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