Doug Wardlow, a Republican candidate for attorney general, is running on the rule of law.
Wardlow, a former state representative from Eagan, said he wants to reinvest in the office’s criminal division and move away from headline-grabbing civil cases against President Donald Trump’s policies and businesses.
“The attorney general needs to take politics out of the office,” he said.
He said Attorney General Lori Swanson has focused too much on civil cases, “on policy things,” sacrificing the office’s ability to support county attorneys on major cases.
“The county attorneys are going without backup,” he said. “That’s what I’m hearing from county attorneys all over the state.”
Wardlow is the endorsed Republican candidate. He faces Robert Lessard and Sharon Anderson in Tuesday’s primary. If he wins, he would face a DFL candidate on Nov. 6.
If elected, Wardlow said the attorney general’s office needs to re-focus on criminal prosecutions for human trafficking and the illegal distribution of opioids, protect personal and property rights, and protect consumers.
He said the attorney general’s office should be leading and collaborating with local law enforcement on widespread criminal crises, such as human trafficking and the spread of opioids.
“The office needs to be training county attorneys on prosecuting these crimes,” Wardlow said.
And the attorney general’s office can train law enforcement on proper investigation techniques for human trafficking.
“There needs to be a clear message that we’re trying to prosecute and end human trafficking,” he said. “The county attorneys are doing a good job with what they have, but there’s no statewide leadership.”
On opioids, the attorney general’s office should be part of an effort to give people preventive education, figure out what’s happening with production and manufacturing of the drugs and crack down on deceptive advertising.
He called Attorney General Lori Swanson’s participation in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s travel ban, primarily structured against Muslim countries, as a “political lawsuit.”
“We need to stop diverting resources to wage political war,” he said.
Wardlow graduated from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., from which he also received his law degree. He clerked for Justice G. Barry Anderson on the Minnesota Supreme Court and litigated civil disputes, including working for American steel companies on trade disputes involving steel dumping by China and defending property owners in eminent domain cases. He has been an attorney for the conservative nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, which advocates for religious freedom, sanctity of life and traditional marriage.
Wardlow, a native of Eagan, lives in Prior Lake. He’s married and has three children.
Wardlow said his background will help him in examining Gov. Mark Dayton’s buffer law, passed in 2015, which requires certain distances from active farmland to ditches.
“The way it is being applied is an unjust taking of land without compensation,” Wardlow said.
For farmers, he’s also interested in examining the “byzantine” property tax system.
But businesses that do follow the rules should find an ally in the attorney general’s office, he said. He said he is prepared to work with the Legislature to make sure the laws passed are constitutional, make sense and don’t add to the regulatory burdens.
Wardlow’s experience in international trade can be a boost as he “stands up for Minnesota producers, and industries in Minnesota so they’re not undermined by dumping in places like China.”
To that end, he’ll be ready to testify at the International Trade Commission and take on international trade litigation.
Wardlow has other conservative stances. He said he’s prepared to “defend Minnesotans Second and First Amendment rights.” While immigration law enforcement is generally a federal matter, he said there should be no sanctuary cities in the state and that the country needs a strong border.
Wardlow also said he’d increase attention on consumer fraud, financial scams and elder abuse.
“We need to make sure we’re enforcing the law to its fullest extent,” he said.