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Rothman touts experience, track record in run for state AG

Armed with 30 years of experience in a variety of roles, Minnesota attorney general candidate Mike Rothman said he is ready to serve as a consumer watchdog for everyday Minnesotans. Submitted photo / Rothman campaign

Two words—experience and protection—have a way of popping up and dominating a conversation with Mike Rothman.

He has the former in abundance, Rothman said, and what he needs is an office that empowers him to accomplish the latter, which is why he's running as a DFL candidate for Minnesota attorney general.

"I am the most experienced candidate in the field ... no other candidate has statewide experience, no other candidate has been the state's consumer watchdog," Rothman told the Dispatch Tuesday, July 3. "The fundamental role (of a Minnesota attorney general) is to stand strong for Main Street, everyday Minnesotans against corporate abusive practices."

Growing up in Chaska with a single mother, Rothman went on from Chaska High School to graduate from Carleton College in 1984 and the University of Minnesota Law School in 1988. He served as a judicial clerk in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, then worked in the Minnesota Senate, where he gained experience in legislation. Subsequently, he embarked on a private law career until 2011, when Gov. Mark Dayton asked him to join his administration.

His career, he noted, primarily involved cases in fields like insurance, consumer protection and corporate law, though his vocation rarely left him buried in paperwork for long.

"(My) courtroom experience—trial and appellate," Rothman said. "I represented clients going into courtrooms every single day."

As such, Rothman, 56, characterized himself as the most battle-tested and qualified candidate in the field—evidenced, he said, by more than 30 years in litigation, working in private practice in California and Minnesota, arguing cases in courtrooms all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, until he was named the Minnesota commissioner of commerce in 2011.

In that role, Rothman said, he took an agency of more than 300 employees, wielding an annual budget of roughly $450 million, and oversaw more than 20 industries—banking, energy, insurance, securities and others—executing what he saw as his role as "Minnesota's statewide consumer watchdog." In that capacity, he noted, he saved Minnesotans more than $1 billion during his tenure.

No less than five DFL candidates are vying for the attorney general spot come August—and that's with the notable exception of Lori Swanson. The three-term incumbent is making a bid for governor after DFL convention delegates didn't give her their endorsement when Swanson refused to sign a number of pledges, including one that stipulated the disarmament of police officers.

Rothman's candidacy has been closely linked with Swanson—he first announced his run in late November when Swanson originally mulled a gubernatorial run, then suspended it when she decided to return as the state's top lawyer. He then re-entered the race in early June when Swanson reversed course and committed to run for the governor's seat.

And, much like Swanson's tenure, Rothman said his stint as state attorney general would be typified by consumer protection—serving as the prosecuting attorney for the collective citizenry; a capable practitioner walking in the footsteps of Swanson (and other Minnesota attorney generals going back to Walter Mondale), but in a "stronger, bolder and better way."

His scope isn't limited to lawsuits against corporate behemoths, Rothman noted—the former commissioner said he looks to make significant forays into protections for the elderly amid growing outrage over endemic nursing home and care facility abuse.

"Senior citizens are being increasingly abused—whether it's financial or physical exploitation," Rothman said.

Rothman also took aim at the opioid epidemic—placing himself firmly in the role of a protector for Minnesotans against the abusive practices of the pharmaceutical industry and their role in instigating a wave of addiction during the prior decade.

"It's the place where we need to stand strong immediately," he said.

In addition, Rothman said the state attorney general's office needs to retain its traditional role as a fighter for conservation—making its presence felt, he said, in collaboration with Minnesotan communities, as well as strengthening the legal framework of burgeoning green energy initiatives across the state.