Former Bush Lawyer and Trump Critic Exploring Minnesota Senate Run

Richard Painter says he’s not sure if he will run as a Democrat, Republican or independent

Richard Painter served in the George W. Bush administration as White House ethics lawyer and teaches law at the University of Minnesota. (Dartmouth College Ethics Institute)

Former Bush administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter is considering a run for Senate in Minnesota against Sen. Tina Smith.

Painter said at a news conference in front of the state Capitol that he was forming an exploratory committee to examine a run, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

Painter served as chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, but said he was not sure whether he would run as a Democrat, Republican or independent.

“I need to think about whether there’s a place for me,” he said.

Painter, who is currently a professor at the University of Minnesota, has emerged as a major critic of President Donald Trump.

He is vice chairman of the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sued Trump for violating the emoluments clause by not selling his assets or putting them in a blind trust.

But that case was dismissed in December.

Smith was appointed to the Senate after Sen. Al Franken’s resignation amid reports of sexual harassment by multiple women.

So far, the only Republican who has announced a candidacy is state Sen. Karin Housley.

“It’s important for voters to have a choice in any election, so we welcome our new opponent to the race,” Housley spokesman Bryan Pilgra said. “Karin Housley has given a voice to the many Minnesotans who are fed up with the dysfunction, partisanship, and obstruction in Washington.”

Painter called both Smith and Housley “very good candidates.”

Along with Smith’s race, Minnesota is  set to have another Senate race as Sen. Amy Klobuchar seeks a third term.

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

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