Republican makes late-entry into Minnesota AG race

Chris Rizo Apr. 28, 2010, 6:37pm

R. Christopher Barden (R)

Lori Swanson (DFL)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Legal Newsline)-A Republican psychologist-lawyer announced today he will challenge Minnesota's Democratic attorney general, Lori Swanson, pledging to work to overturn the national health care law if elected.

In kicking off his campaign, R. Christopher Barden of Edina accused Swanson of not being business-friendly. He said after 40 years of being in Democrats' control the attorney general's office desperately needs Republican leadership, for the sake of the state's lagging economy.

"The current AG's office is viewed as unfriendly to Minnesota business. The AG's office should represent all of Minnesota's citizens -- from the poor and afflicted to small business owners and employers. This will help bring new jobs to Minnesota," he said.

Barden, largely a political neophyte, also took aim at Swanson for refusing Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's request to file a lawsuit challenging the Democratic-drafted health care law that will require most Americans to have medical insurance by 2014.

He said Swanson's refusal not to join a multistate lawsuit against the health care law signed last month by President Barack Obama was a major factor in him making a late jump into the statewide race.

"Our state and nation are increasingly in peril under staggering burdens of government debt and massive increases in government control over our economic and private lives," Barden said. "These unwise transformations of our country threaten the free enterprise system that made America the strongest and most prosperous nation in history."

Barden, a Harvard Law School graduate, holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has used that background to serve professionally as a paid expert witness against such theories as recovered memory.

Politically, Barden's experience is limited to an unsuccessful run for a school board seat in Utah in 2006, before he returned to Minnesota the next year, something the chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party highlighted in a statement.

"It's nice of Dr. Barden to return to Minnesota for this race after his unsuccessful 2006 campaign for the Board of Education in the state of Utah," DFL Chair Brian Melendez said. "But the people of Minnesota are looking for more than a law degree and some education proposals from their chief legal officer."

Democratic officials also say his lack of litigation experience makes him ill-suited for the attorney general post.

"His primary occupation is earning top-dollar as a hired expert witness for and against psychologists, psychiatrists, priests and patients in personal-injury trials, malpractice claims and criminal matters," the DFL said in a statement, cited by the Minneapolis (Minn.) Star Tribune.

Before being elected attorney general in 2006, Swanson was state solicitor general. In 2006, she was chair of the Consumer Advisory Council to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington.

Last week, Democrats endorsed Swanson's bid for a second term as the state's chief legal officer. The William Mitchell College of Law graduate is Minnesota's first woman attorney general.

Barden will seek the Republican Party endorsement Friday in Minneapolis at the state GOP convention. He faces no opposition.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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