DFL Attorney General candidate visits Austin – Pelikan: ‘I’m the progressive for all Minnesotans’

Published 8:12 am Thursday, August 2, 2018

DFL-endorsed Attorney General candidate Matt Pelikan was on the campaign trail in Southeast Minnesota on Wednesday. Before visiting the Spam Museum, he stopped by to talk to the Herald.

“I’ve been in the race for about a year,” he said. “I got in because I felt we need a strong and progressive Attorney General. The Attorney General is empowered to represent all Minnesotans, and that comes with a special responsibility to represent folks who don’t have good representation, people who don’t have high priced lawyers on retainer or lobbyists on speed dial.”

Pelikan grew up in Northfield, citing the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone as his hero, and became active in politics at a young age.

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“I attended my first precinct caucus at 13,” he said. “I was precinct chair before I could even vote.”

He attended St. Olaf College, where he led the College Democrats, and worked for Wellstone and Mark Dayton while they were in the U.S. Senate. He attended law school at the University of Minnesota and clerked for two Minnesota Supreme Court Justices. He moved to Ohio during 2016 to fight voter suppression and is currently part of a private practice with Madel PA.

Pelikan was endorsed at the 2018 DFL State Convention in Rochester and is the youngest candidate in the Attorney General race.

Pelikan called his top three issues “The 3 E’s.”


“Economy is number one,” he said. “I think Minnesotans need a fierce advocate to fight for them in the economy. I think the concentration of too much economic and political power into few hands is the greatest challenge facing us. We have to shift some of that balance back in the hands of working people in the middle class; we have to protect the consumers, employees, seniors and students. As Attorney General, I’m going to look at ways that not only we can go after specific fraud, but that we can make sure the consumers have the power of the free market and the power of the law on their side to have confidence and faith in the free marketplace and the transactions they’re engaged in.”

Equal Rights

“I grew up as a gay kid in small town Minnesota and my partner is an immigrant,” he said. “These are personal issues, but they’re also values issues. There was a lot of talk after 2016 that Democrats and progressives had to exclusively focus on an economic message that would work in Greater Minnesota and be done with what people derisively call ‘identity politics.’ I never want to be part of a political party or a movement that is ever going to turn its back on people who are still fighting for equal rights in society.”

Pelikan also cited the inclusion of women, refugee communities and the LGBTQ community, as well as combatting bias in policing toward the black community, as important to achieving equality.


“Minnesota’s natural beauty is one of the things that makes us so proud to be Minnesotans and it’s important that we protect the health and safety of our environment, especially our water resources,” he said. “We know how to protect the environment, and I believe it begins with rejecting the false choice between sustainable economic development and protecting our environment. We can build a sustainable economy without taking on the unnecessary risky projects that I think endanger environmental integrity and the health and safety of our communities. Frankly, we cannot extract, mine and burn our way to a sustainable economy.”

Pelikan said that while he is running against people he respects in a tough primary, he is confident that grassroots energy and the DFL endorsement will help his chances.

“I have by far the most comprehensive plan on what to do with the office on day one,” he said. “This is a year where we are seeing the excitement and engagement is for the next generation of progressive leaders. I got the endorsement against a 12-year incumbent from my own party because people can respect the experience and the service of some of these leaders, but know right now what we need is new voices, new ideas, and are moving to the next generation of leadership.”

“People recognize we need a fighter and revitalized energy in that office,” he added. “I have a passionate lifelong commitment fighting to use our legal and political process to make a difference in people’s lives. This is a statewide campaign and I bring the perspective and the deep empathy to stand up and fight for people. We are not going to make the differences in our society if we defer to a status quo that has not been delivering results.”