Former Bush ethics lawyer Richard Painter running for U.S. Senate as DFLer

University of Minnesota law professor and former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter announced Monday that he is running as a Democrat against Sen. Tina Smith in the special election for U.S. Senate. 

Painter, 56, was the White House chief ethics lawyer for the Bush administration from 2005 to 2007. But, at his press conference Monday, Painter said he is, "out of the Republican Party."

“I’m fed up,” he said. 

Former Sen. Al Franken’s resignation last December put his seat back on the ballot two years ahead of schedule. A special election will be held in November to fill the vacancy, the winner of which will serve out the remainder of Franken’s term through 2020. 

Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Smith as Franken’s replacement and she intends to run in the special election. Painter, currently a professor of corporate law at the U of M, and Smith will face off in a primary this summer for the DFL nomination. 

Two Republican challengers have entered the race so far: state Sen. Karin Housley, who represents Stillwater and Forest Lake, and local businessman Bob Anderson.