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George W. Bush's Former Ethics Czar Has Left the Republican Party and Now He's Running for Senate

Painter for U.S. Senate

Former George W. Bush White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter is running for Senate in Minnesota as a Democrat, mounting a challenge to interim Senator Tina Smith, who was appointed by Democratic Governor Mark Dayton to replace Al Franken. Painter was set to officially announce his candidacy Monday morning.


Painter, who up until recently was a life-long Republican, is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and his brash brand of visceral politics. As rumors about his possible candidacy began to swirl last month, Painter remained undecided on whether he would run as a Republican.

“I need to think about whether there’s a place for me” in the GOP, he said at the time. “I’m going to be considering any and all options.” Painter describes himself as “a centrist in many ways — right up the middle.”

Painter also serves as vice president of the Center for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, a watchdog group that sued Trump in December for what it perceived as violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

Although the case was dismissed, ethics groups remain critical of Trump's entanglements with his family business as he serves in the White House.

Painter vows to not take PAC money, dark money, or support from "Russian agents."

Make no mistake, America. We are in the fight of our lives. Our democracy and our institutions are under assault. Alternative facts are being normalized. And it has to end. JOIN US and CONTRIBUTE today! No Super PACs. No Dark Money. No Russian Agents.

Despite Painter's anti-Trump credentials, which has somewhat endeared him to the left, Painter may face an uphill battle trying to unseat a liberal female Senator in deep-blue Minnesota. Some Democratic supporters are skeptical of Painter due to his ties to the disastrous Bush presidency.

With Democrats seeking to retake the House and make gains in the Senate in the November midterms, a Democratic primary challenge could embolden Republican challenger Karin Housley, a state senator who is the only Republican mounting a challenge to Smith.

I enjoy his commentary on tv but we should remember how truly horrible the W admin. was. I have a difficult time with the W and ethics lawyer. Smith is a dem Painter is a conservative.

But not everyone agrees.

Others want Painter to demonstrate that he supports the principles of the Democratic Party and that being anti-Trump is not his only platform for seeking a Senate seat.

Minnesota voters need to pin Painter down on how much of a Democrat he really is - on health care, immigration, Social Security, jobs programs, education etc. I think he's a good man, but he's a Bush Republican from away back. So I'm skeptical.

He said he’s running as a Democrat but being a Democrat is a lot more than opposing Trump. We shall see what he intends to stand for.