On Sunday evening I received a text message from my friend Harry Niska giving me a "heads up" regarding a big announcement Monday morning. I had a sneaking suspicion as to what that announcement would entail. I am ecstatic to report that said suspicion was confirmed.
After a nearly a decade of private practice, Harry Niska is hoping to take his legal career public by becoming Minnesota’s top lawyer.
On Monday, the 36-year-old City of Ramsey Republican announced his bid to become attorney general.
“I’m running because I want to take my real world legal experience representing clients against some of the biggest and best law firms all over the country and put that to work for the people of Minnesota,” he said.
I know of many right-of-center political observers/activists (myself included) who have been pining for a Niska for AG candidacy since at least 2012. While I don't know for sure if he ever considered opposing incumbent Lori Swanson in 2014, the speculation never ceased that one day he'd be a candidate for that post.
Niska has been a committed GOP activist at local and state levels for the past several election cycles. However, he was very vocal about his opposition to Donald Trump as the potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016. Upon Trump receiving the nod, Niska confirmed he would not support the party's nominee, a stance which he believes shouldn't be an impediment to his AG campaign.
“I think voters are going to look at my record. And my record is of somebody who will do the right thing no matter the political cost,” he said. “I’ll do what I believe in and I’ll stand up for the interests of Minnesota no matter which way the political winds blow.”
True, as Niska was not hesitant to raise legal issues against an activist within his own political party. In 2012, he filed a complaint against a MN Republican activist for falsely claiming the state party supported three judicial candidates. The activist, Bonn Clayton, eventually had to pay a fine for that indiscretion.
Also in 2012, Niska filed an amicus brief on behalf of Minnesota licensed child care providers in response to Gov. Mark Dayton issuing an Executive Order forcing that industry to unionize. A few months later a judge agreed that Dayton overstepped his authority, thus overturning the initial E.O.
If indeed Swanson chooses to seek re-election in 2018, Niska has already built a solid case against her keeping her job. Definitely read his piece from last year on how AG Swanson has been "neglecting the tough parts of her job."
I've said many times in this space and on my radio program that I typically do not issue endorsements of political candidates because a) no one really cares what I believe and b) I want all candidates for political office to appear on the radio show, regardless of my personal support. However, I am bucking that trend by enthusiastically and unreservedly endorsing Harry Niska for Minnesota Attorney General in 2018.