Throughout Keith Ellison’s campaign to become the next attorney general of Minnesota, he promised to be an activist who would oppose Donald Trump’s agenda and “hold him accountable.” (At least when he wasn’t fending off allegations of domestic abuse.) By a surprisingly thin margin of four points, Ellison won that race and will soon be sworn into office. But now, according to the local CBS outlet, the former Congressman is much more muted about the President. He’s going to focus on issues back home, or so he claims.
On WCCO Sunday Morning, Ellison minimized the degree to which he will take on the president.
“I didn’t run for attorney general to fight with Trump,” Ellison said. “I may end up fighting with Trump, but my point is to protect Minnesotans. That has to do with drug pricing; that has to do with the affordability of college, where there are some for-profit colleges taking advantage of people. We are not going to let that kind of stuff happen. But there are things that might bring me into conflict with the federal government.”
Ellison is also promising to restore moral to the office. Under current Attorney General Lori Swanson there were accusations that staff was required to do political work at taxpayers’ expense — accusations Swanson has denied.
Perhaps “restoring morals to the office” of attorney general might not have been the best leading pitch, at least until he gets the assault allegations against him swept under the carpet. But what do you think the odds are that Keith Ellison won’t be interested in grandstanding and trying to cause problems for the Trump administration?
It’s never been much of a secret that Ellison has his eyes on a White House bid at some point. (He’s 55 so he still has plenty of time.) But running for President as a member of the House hasn’t traditionally been a successful route. Governor might have been a long shot for him, but the office of attorney general is a reliable launching pad for a later gubernatorial bid. Then, with legislative, law enforcement and executive experience under his belt he could make a much stronger case, and it’s not difficult to imagine him thinking that 2028 or even 2032 might be his opening.
But until then he needs to keep his name in the headlines. What better way than to bring a series of lawsuits against a Republican president? Put a pin in this Ellison interview for future reference. We’ll be better able to judge what Keith Ellison’s long game is by his actions rather than his words.