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Sanders stumps for Ellison in Duluth

The duo goes to Minneapolis and Rochester on Friday.

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Sen. Bernie Sanders
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, stands with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, center, and Duluth Mayor Emily Larson on stage after a rally for Ellison Thursday at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth. Ellison is seeking re-election.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders began his three-city tour in support of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison's re-election campaign Thursday evening.

The independent from Vermont told the crowd gathered at Clyde Iron Works that Ellison "is a very good friend of mine" since the two were in Congress and called him "one of the great progressive leaders in the United States of America."

The two will hold rallies together Friday in Rochester and Minneapolis.

"And what I can tell you without any fear, any equivocation is that you have as your Attorney General Keith Ellison, one of the real fighters in this country. Somebody who has spent his entire adult life fighting for economic justice for working people, fighting for racial justice, fighting for justice for people whose sexual orientation may be different than others, fighting for environmental justice," Sanders said. "That's who Keith Ellison is."

But Ellison remains in a tight race with Republican challenger Jim Schultz. Ellison leads Schultz 45% to 43% with 13% undecided, according to a KSTP/SurveyUSA poll released Thursday .

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Keith Ellison has argued GOP opponent Jim Schultz misunderstands the role the AG should play in local criminal prosecutions.

In his speech, Ellison highlighted his lawsuit against fossil fuel giants ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute and Koch Industries for knowing about the contribution of fossil fuels to climate change but deceiving the public on it. He likened it to former Minnesota Attorney General Skip Humphrey's role in going after cigarette companies that knew the risks of smoking.

Schultz told the Star Tribune he believes the big oil lawsuit was "frivolous."

"That's what (Schultz is) mad about. That's why he's running. Because he thinks no (attorney general) aught to hold corporations accountable who break the law," Ellison said. "But that's exactly what I believe we should be doing."

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson also spoke at the rally.

"One of the biggest reasons why re-electing Ellison is important to me is body autonomy, and I will tell you that abortion is absolutely on this ballot," Larson said. "Every race up and down the ticket — is about body autonomy, it is about a woman's right to choose, it is about reproductive freedom and it is about the privacy and security to build your own life."

Dan Olson, business manager of for the Laborers International Union of North America Local 1091, highlighted Ellison's role in pursuing wage theft cases.

"I believe in the program that the attorney general's office and his staff — which is a group of attorneys, administrators, and other people — that protect your backside, your wages, your benefits," Olson said. "Why in the hell would you support anyone else?"

Sanders has stopped before in Duluth, first at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in 2016 for his presidential campaign, and again in 2018 at Denfeld High School for Ellison's first attorney general campaign.

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"(Ellison) is an (attorney general) who has the courage, which is rare in American society today, to stand up to powerful corporate interests," Sanders said.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at jlovrien@duluthnews.com or 218-723-5332.
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