MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota DFL is dealing with controversy on the eve of the state’s primary election.
Keith Ellison, the top contender in the DFL race for Minnesota Attorney General, is accused of abusing an ex-girlfriend. An accusation he says isn’t true.
Then, there’s the DFL race for Governor. Current Attorney General Lori Swanson is under fire for allegedly pressuring her employees to work on her campaign.
Those are just two of the races we’ll be following as the polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Explosive allegations facing two of the state’s best known Democrats. Controversial claims coming just hours before the polls open.
Congressman Ellison denies that he abused his ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan, who claims she has a videotape of one incident of physical violence. Monahan did not respond to our request for an interview, but she told Minnesota Public Radio she won’t release the tape publicly.
“It’s humiliating, it’s traumatizing. For everyone’s family involved, and for me,” Monahan said.
Ellison’s campaign manager, Ryan Doyle, said in a written statement Ellison met with Monahan at her request the night before he announced his run for Attorney General. Where she repeated what the campaign says is “her false assertion that a video exists.”
Ellison has not held a public campaign appearance since the explosive claims surfaced three days before the election, or given any interviews. That’s highly unusual this late in a campaign.
“Keith Ellison appeared to be far ahead and winning the DFL nomination for Attorney General, but today’s news and the tremendous press coverage it’s getting has now thrown that race up in the air,” Political Analyst Larry Jacobs said.
Scandal is hitting the DFL Governor’s race as well.
Attorney General Lori Swanson denying charges she pressured staffers in her office to do political work, then punished or rewarded them.
DFL candidate Tim Walz giving a pep talk to a high school football team. Then hit Swanson hard for what he called “totally unacceptable” behavior.
“I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone. I’m deeply disappointed with the low road. Deeply disappointed with the responses. The other two campaigns have been run very differently,” Walz said.
The flow of bad news for some Democrats didn’t slow Erin Murphy, who took her “Politics of Joy” tour around the state.
“I believe in us. I have always believed in us,” Murphy said.
Looking at high interest in this primary. One of the more unusual primaries in years.
There’s also a high stakes race for Governor on the Republican side. A former Republican governor is challenging his Minnesota Republican party’s endorsed candidate for governor. A Republican race that’s been contentious at times.
Tim Pawlenty was campaigning in southern Minnesota and Mankato on Monday. Jeff Johnson was on a statewide swing from Detroit Lakes to Moorhead to Albert Lea.
“The message is to Republicans: if you are looking for someone who will bring fundamental change. Disrupt the status quo as opposed to business as usual establishment more of the same, that’s me,” Jeff Johnson said.
“As they say in track and field, you want to run through the tape, so we are barnstorming Minnesota, trying to get those messages and last votes out,” Tim Pawlenty said.
Early voting for Tuesday’s primary is already far ahead of previous primary years. The Secretary of State’s office reporting Monday more than 117,000 people have voted early.