Former Bush lawyer calls on Franken to run for governor, slams 'blue dog Dems'

Richard Painter has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration.
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Richard Painter has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration.

A former White House lawyer turned University of Minnesota professor has called on Al Franken to run for Minnesota Governor, and slammed "blue dog" Democrats who accepted NRA money early in their career.

Richard W. Painter was the ethics lawyer for George W. Bush between 2005-07 and is now professor of corporate law at the U of M. He has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration on Twitter, on which he has 376,000 followers.

In a series of tweets over the past day, Painter has been slamming Democrats who have taken money or endorsements from the National Rifle Association earlier in their career, only to pivot to anti-gun positions as they seek political advancement.

Among those in his sights is Democratic New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who was famously pro-gun, earning an A-rating from the NRA, before shifting nine years ago to an anti-gun stance.


– Al Franken's goodbye speech to supporters.

Gillibrand was one of the leading voices in the Senate to call for former Minnesota senator Al Franken's resignation after allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, something that Painter also disagrees with.

He says that with the predicted "blue wave" of Democratic wins in November, he doesn't want to see voters "rewarding" these "blue dog" Democrats for evolving their position on guns despite accepting previous NRA support, especially in the wake of the Florida school massacre.

"Blue dog" is a term often applied to Democratic politicians in southern states that have conservative voting records.

He wants Franken to run again

Among the "blue dogs" he calls out – if not by name – on Twitter is gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz, who has previously accepted NRA donations during his time as representative for Minnesota's 1st District, but gave them away after the Las Vegas shooting in October.

"One of those candidates conveniently distanced himself from the NRA and gave the NRA money back as soon as he declared for governor," Painter tweeted. "Right .... That kind of stunt may get a pol a NY senate seat but it won’t go over well in MN."

Believing Franken was not afforded the due process required to investigate the allegations against him, Painter thinks the former senator should either reclaim his Senate seat or run for Minnesota governor this year.

In a tweet responding to Franken's daughter Thomasin – who herself was criticizing Gillibrand for her involvement in her father's resignation – Painter said Franken should run so Minnesota does not face a choice of two pro-gun candidates come November.

Al Franken has given no indication at any stage he would run for governor, and has given his support to Sen. Tina Smith, who took his place in the Senate and will run to retain the seat in November.

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