MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The midterm elections in Minnesota are packed with key races from an open governor’s seat, two U.S. Senate races and four congressional races that are ranked as toss ups.

But one of the most heated races is for Minnesota attorney general. In Tonight’s Talking Points, Esme Murphy looks at the race and why it continues to be the unexpected focus of so much attention.

It’s one of those often overlooked offices. For nearly 12 years, Lori Swanson has held the seat of Minnesota attorney general. However, she shockingly lost the party endorsement in June to little-known Minneapolis attorney Matt Pelikan.

That loss prompted Swanson to leave the AG’s race and begin a gubernatorial campaign — prompting a number of well-known candidates to enter the race.

Congressman Keith Ellison easily won the Democratic primary despite 11th hour accusations from his former girlfriend that he had been physically and emotionally abusive. Ellison has strongly denied the charges, but they continue to cast a shadow over his campaign.

Now he faces Doug Wardlow, the Republican nominee. Wardlow is an Eagan attorney and has been the legal counsel for the Alliance for Defending Freedom, an organization that has argued against gay marriage and against allowing transgender individuals from using restrooms that match their gender identities.

Wardlow is also a strong supporter of President Donald Trump and is opposed to sanctuary cities. Wardlow says his views are mainstream compared to the positions of Congressman Ellison, who he says is an extremist.

Wardlow was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning.

“That’s a big difference between myself and my opponent Keith Ellison — he has said he wants to use the attorney general’s office to basically wage a political war against the president and regardless of what anyone think of President Trump, that is inappropriate,” Wardlow said. “The attorney general shouldn’t be using the powers of that office and taxpayer dollars to wage a political war. That’s inappropriate.”

If Wardlow wins the election, he would be the first Minnesota Republican attorney general since 1971.

You can watch WCCO 4 News with Esme Murphy and MIke Augustyniak every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Esme Murphy