DFL governor candidates differ on marijuana, driver’s licenses

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The three Democrats running for Minnesota governor are highlighting their differences in the homestretch to next week’s primary.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, state Rep. Erin Murphy and Attorney General Lori Swanson squared off in an hourlong debate hosted by Minnesota Public Radio News Friday. It was one of the few meetings between all three candidates ahead of Tuesday’s primary to decide Democrats’ nominee.

Swanson generally stuck to more moderate positions than her two competitors. Walz and Murphy said they’d push to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, but Swanson says she’s not on board due to concerns of driving while under the influence.

Walz and Murphy say they support expanding driver’s licenses to immigrants living in the state illegally. Swanson says she’d convene a task force to study the issue.

Allegations of political work in Swanson’s office

Swanson was in the hot seat for two recent articles in The Intercept, an online publication, in which a dozen former staffers said some staff did campaign work on the state’s dime in the attorney general’s office. Swanson denied the allegations and attacked the publication as “a widely discredited blog” that has ties to billionaire investors that she has taken on in court.

“I cost that billionaire hundreds of millions of dollars through the work of the office,” she said. “When you do things like that you get a target on your back, and here we are five days ahead of a primary election.”


Murphy was the toughest on federal immigration policies, as well as her opponents. “I’m not interested in extending law enforcement’s reach, the part I have control of, to ICE,” she said, referring to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. “I’m not interested in building a federal detention center.”

She also took a dig at Walz for past votes in favor of creating additional screening measures for Syrian refugees trying to enter the United States.

Walz said the United States has a “responsibility” to keep the borders secure and “make sure you know who is coming in, but you do that with humanity.”

“We need to secure our borders, we live in a very dangerous world and there are people who want to do this country great harm,” Swanson said.

(Information from Minnesota Public Radio included in this report)