Union leaders: ‘We stand with' Ellison after abuse allegations

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Minnesota labor leaders who support DFL attorney general candidate Keith Ellison say their endorsements haven’t wavered despite allegations that Ellison abused an ex-girlfriend.

“Our membership knows that Keith has stood with them over the years on every front, and we’re going to stand with him now,” said Bill McCarthy, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

Ellison is trying to move past the allegations from ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan that he physically and emotionally abused her, which Ellison denies. Polls indicate the race between Ellison and Republican Doug Wardlow is tight, even as DFL candidates hold leads in three other statewide contests this fall.

Ellison hammered Republican opponent Doug Wardlow Thursday, saying Wardlow would stand with President Donald Trump and big businesses instead of protecting workers.

The DFL has pointed to a Wardlow campaign flyer that suggests Wardlow would “defend President Trump’s agenda.” Wardlow said in an interview outside his Burnsville campaign offices that he would neither defend nor try to block the Trump administration.

“That’s preposterous. Keith Ellison, he wants to talk about anything other than the domestic abuse allegations against him,” Wardlow said.

Ellison has held events away from the Twin Cities in recent days focused on labor unions and voting rights, as Wardlow’s campaign launched a TV ad criticizing him over the abuse allegations. Thursday, Ellison gathered with several labor leaders at the Minnesota AFL-CIO headquarters in St. Paul.

“The special interests already have high-powered lawyers on their side,” Ellison told reporters. “They don’t need another one in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.”

Ellison said, as attorney general, he would oppose any municipal or state “right-to-work” legislation. Wardlow supported such legislation while he was a state lawmaker, but said he would not push for it as attorney general.

“I’m not going to do political things. I’m not going to push any kind of policy – right-to-work or otherwise. That would be completely inappropriate,” Wardlow said. “Keith Ellison, on the other hand, he wants to use the office for political purposes.”

Mary Turner, a Robbinsdale nurse and president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, wasn’t buying it.

“When you have someone like Doug Wardlow wanting to take down the unions, he’s declaring war on the nurses – but not only the nurses, he’s declaring war on our patients,” Turner said. “And you’re gonna have trouble there.”

The two candidates are scheduled to debate once more, on Sunday, Oct. 21. The election is Nov. 6.