Jim Schultz edges out Doug Wardlow in GOP attorney general primary

Political newcomer and GOP-endorsed candidate Jim Schultz edged out fellow Republican Doug Wardlow as key results continued to roll in for Minnesota attorney general.

The winner will face Democrat Keith Ellison for the state’s highest legal office this fall — a position Republicans haven’t held in half a century.

“Republicans are full of energy and feel that we need meaningful change in our state,” Schultz, 36, said after casting his ballot on Tuesday. “We think people will rally behind our campaign, a campaign that will deliver a freer and safer Minnesota.”

Wardlow, 44, of Prior Lake, was running to the right of Schultz on key issues as he sought a rematch with Ellison, to whom he lost by 4 percentage points in 2018. He is general counsel for MyPillow and has worked for the conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom and served one term in the Minnesota Legislature.

“I’m the only America First candidate running for Attorney General!” Wardlow tweeted Tuesday after casting his vote.

Schultz is a Minnetonka business and regulatory attorney. He focused on public safety during the election campaign, saying the attorney general’s office needed to do more to tackle rising crime. He intends to bolster the bureau’s criminal division by cutting or moving attorneys focused on other issues.

While Wardlow also spoke frequently about crime during the campaign trail, the two candidates’ messages diverged on other issues, such as abortion and the 2020 election.

Schultz said he would not use the attorney general’s office to advocate for abortion-related policies. Wardlow said he would sue abortion providers if they broke the law and would “wage war” on the Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling protecting abortions.

Wardlow, unlike Schultz, repeated former President Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was “stolen” as he campaigned for attorney general. At the state’s Republican convention, MyPillow CEO and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell showed up to support Wardlow.

Tom Dorazio, 56, chose Schultz while voting at Hosanna Church in Lakeville on Tuesday. He is looking for someone to oust Ellison, whom he has called “terrible”.

“I looked at Schultz’s website and what he stood for, and it looked good to me,” Dorazio said.

Rosemount voter Michelle MacDonald said she met Wardlow when she was running for Minnesota Supreme Court in 2020.

“He’s very interested in upholding our constitutional rights and not just stomping around,” said MacDonald, whose attorney’s license was suspended by the Minnesota Supreme Court last year for malpractice.

Perennial candidate Sharon Anderson was also a candidate in the Republican primary. And in the race for DFL attorney general, Ellison faced nominal opposition from Bill Dahn, another repeat contender for various posts.

Will Brand, 66, of Minneapolis showed up on primary day to support Ellison, among other candidates.

“I want to elect Keith Ellison every time he runs for something,” Brand said. “He did such a good job orchestrating the Derek Chauvin trial.”

Schultz said on Tuesday he has traveled 8,000 miles in the past five weeks and expects a wave of Republicans to run in the midterm elections. He said he planned to hold Ellison “accountable for his record and making sure we win the race, and win it decisively.”

Editors Tim Harlow, Katie Galioto and Katelyn Vue contributed to this report.

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