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Ellison holds one-point lead over Schultz Wednesday morning, as Minnesota's AG race remains undecided

Keith Ellison is seeking his second consecutive term as Minnesota's top law enforcement officer while Republican challenger Jim Schultz seeks to break a five decade-long DFL reign in the attorney general’s office.

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Republican Jim Schultz, left, is challenging incumbent Keith Ellison, right, in the 2022 election for Minnesota attorney general.
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ST. PAUL — Democratic incumbent Keith Ellison held on to a Tuesday night lead through the overnight, as he continues to lead Republican Jim Schultz by roughly slightly more than one point early Wednesday morning.

After jumping out to an early 31-point lead just one hour after polls closed, Ellison's edge began to trickle away Tuesday night, diminishing to a five-point lead as votes continued to be tallied at 11:18 p.m.

By 8:48 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, Ellison's lead had narrowed to less than one point, holding 50.4% to Schultz's 49.4% share of nearly 2.5 million votes.

The attorney general acts as the state’s chief legal officer, representing the state in lawsuits while enforcing consumer protections and antitrust laws. Beyond regulating charities and nonprofits, the office also handles consumer complaints and can prosecute or assist prosecutors in cases involving serious crimes.

The seat has been held by the Democratic-Farm-Labor party since 1971, with only one Republican serving as attorney general since 1955. The attorney general serves a four-year term; in fiscal year 2021, the AG earned $120,785.60.

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Seeking his second consecutive term as attorney general — the state’s chief legal officer — Ellison spent much of his first four years working toward police reform and various consumer protections, including lowering prescription drug prices for Minnesotans.

As crime rates rose across the nation at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota wasn’t immune. Since he took office, Ellison expanded the office’s criminal division from one to three prosecutors. He sought an additional $1.8 million for further expansions, but the initiative failed in the state Legislature.

Schultz, however, believes in a different approach. Instead of seeking additional funding, he aims to shake up the office’s staffing, realigning a portion of the roughly two dozen consumer protection attorneys to focus more on crime.

Another initiative of Ellison’s was investigating how to lower the financial burden Minnesotans feel regarding prescription drug costs. forming a task force that, in 2020, released 14 recommendations to reduce consumer cost.

Schultz has strongly promised to defend Minnesotans from fraud, protect seniors and nursing home residents, and combat the “scourge of individuals and businesses who try to take advantage of our citizens.”

Arguably the most dividing topic between the two are their abortion beliefs.

Though Schultz has made clear that abortion rights aren’t on the ballot in the election, his past service on the board of Human Life Alliance, a nonprofit anti-abortion group, has turned into a campaign point for Ellison.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade, Ellison has argued that Minnesota will become a Midwestern safe haven for women seeking abortion, as the Dakotas, Iowa and Wisconsin either outlaw the procedure or lie in the midst of legal fighting. He's also accused Schultz of planning to use the office to limit women’s access to abortion, an accusation he adamantly denies, acknowledging that abortion rights have been codified in Minnesota since the 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision.

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While the latest polls heading into Election Day showed Schultz leading Ellison by a 49%-42% margin, the result has been widely considered a toss-up, as 9% remained undecided days before the polls opened.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021. After over a year in Mitchell, he moved to Milwaukee, where he now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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