Richard Painter

Senatorial candidate Richard Painter sits for an interview with Insight News reporter Latisha Townsend. 

Sen. Tina Smith has a DFL challenger in the form of an anti-President Trump former Republican.

Richard Painter is a law professor at the University of Minnesota and an alum of Harvard University. Previously an avid Republican, he has decided to run for U.S. Senate under the DFL. Regarding his party change, he cites the recent administration as the “straw that broke the camel's back.”

A rally was held on July 17 at Metropolitan State University in support of his candidacy.

What sets Painter apart from his opponents?

“I believe I am more emphatic about beginning the process of removing the current president and vice president” said Painter.

If he is not chosen to represent Minnesota, Painter wants voters to know how important it is that they choose a Democrat for the seat. He feels a Republican candidate is surely to be “someone in the back pocket of the president.”

Painter’s main platform is an extension of his concerns about the current administration's hostility towards large segments of the American population based on race and religion as well as the president’s overall mental suitability for office. He also wants the people to start talking about solutions to the growing economic inequality we have here in this country.

As for the economic issues, Painter is focused on improving issues that unite everyone, such as healthcare, an issue he describes as the number one domestic crisis in this country.

Painter feels the most efficient solution for improving healthcare is a through a single payer system. Additionally, he suggests the prices of drugs and the costs of medical devices be reduced. Supporters enthusiastically agreed to his stance on increased minimum wage and providing Americans with more educational opportunities such as trade schools. Most importantly, “we need to clear out the influence of money in politics” said Painter before suggesting that the taxes of the wealthy be increased.

Painter and his supporters expressed interest in bringing attention to environmental protection as well. He said people should be more concerned about the destruction caused by sulfide mining near major waterways.

In an interview with reporters, a question was posed about his opinion on the president’s choice for supreme court replacement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“He (Trump) shouldn't be able to pick a justice. The last thing we need is a president choosing his own candidate for justice (as he may be facing impeachment and/or criminal prosecution),” said Painter. “(Judge Brett) Kavanaugh was a good choice for the president, but bad for the people. We can expect Kavanaugh to fend off any investigation of the president’s conduct.”

During the rally, a supporter who described himself as an immigrant stood up and asked the candidate what he thinks of the recent issues arising from illegal immigrants.

“They (immigrants) have been contributing to this country. They make this country and economy strong,” said Painter. “Just make these people citizens.” This statement earned an uproar of applause from listeners.

Painter had one overriding message for voters.

“Don’t pay attention to the magical ‘R’ or the magical ‘D.” Pay attention to the issues,” advised Painter. The official day to vote in the primary election is Aug. 14, although Minnesotans can vote now until the 14th.

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