Ellison on Running for Minnesota AG: ‘Not Looking to Climb Some Career Ladder’

The progressive congressman says he'd rather litigate the Trump administration than work in Congress

Keith Ellison
Keith Ellison / Getty Images

Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) made a surprise announcement last month to run for Minnesota’s attorney general, and in a new interview he said he doesn't care about the "career ladder."

"I am not looking to climb some career ladder," Ellison told the Guardian in an interview published Sunday. "I don’t give a damn about that. What I care about is how can I help the most people. How can I be maximally effective in defense of people’s economic and social rights, that’s what I care about."

Ellison, who is also the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is running on the promise to oppose President Donald Trump’s policies from the office of attorney general of Minnesota. He said the challenge in Congress is having enough votes to pass progressive legislation, but as attorney general he would have his desired latitude to engage in litigation.

"In order for me to do anything about it as member of Congress, anything real, I gotta have enough people in Congress to vote for it," he said.

"I basically made a choice about what end of the fight I want to be in. Writing the law is super important, writing federal law is super important, but also enforcing the law is equally important and that’s just the end of it that I’d rather be focused on at this point," he added.

He said he wanted to intervene in matters such as the gender pay gap and Trump ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era executive action protecting illegal immigrants brought to America when they were young. Ellison made it clear that he would target Trump and his policies when he announced his candidacy in June.

"No one—not even a president—is above the law. From immigration reform to protecting our air and water, it has never been more important to have a leader as attorney general who can stand up against threats to our neighbors’ health or freedoms," Ellison said in a June statement.

Ellison told the Guardian he wants to be a "let’s go AG" rather than a "me too AG." He touted the wide range of issues he would tackle as Minnesota’s chief law enforcement officer.

"Having antitrust authority, [the Minnesota attorney general] can band with other attorneys general and say maybe there should be one company that dominates 75 percent of the market as Amazon is approaching or Google is approaching, maybe there should be three companies that do chicken in the United States," he said.

"We need to deconcentrate markets so that small companies can emerge [and] so startups can grow," he said.