More than a year ago, during the early days of the Minneapolis City Council campaign, I chanced upon Andy Luger at the 13th Ward DFL convention. He handed me his card and announced he was running for Hennepin County Attorney. He’s been running hard ever since, and despite garnering a first-ballot DFL endorsement in June, the Edina attorney is taking nothing for granted in his campaign against former Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.
Freeman, the son of former governor and U.S. secretary of agriculture Orville Freeman, came into the race late and barely contested the endorsement, knowing that his name recognition among longtime DFLers would give him a chance in November (he and Luger are the only two candidates in the non-partisan race).
When I sat down with Luger earlier this week and asked him about Freeman’s challenge and how he was distinguishing himself from a guy with a statewide profile, he noted that Freeman’s “been a politician half of his life” and that he was puzzled why he wanted to return to his old job after an unsuccessful run for governor. “Why go back?” he asked.
It was a rhetorical question, of course, meant to counter Freeman’s “I’ve got the experience necessary to do the job” pitch. But, Luger argued that his own experience as a federal prosecutor was more relevant to the post than what Freeman’s political resume represents. “It’s a different perspective,” he said.
Luger wants to focus on “taking apart gangs” throughout the county. To do so, he will create a specialized unit on repeat offenders and a local witness protection program. He also wants to work on prisoner re-entry programs to make it easier for felons to transition to a life on the right side of the law. “We need to stop people cycling through the system,” he said.
And while he didn’t say it explicitly, he might just as well have been referring to his opponent’s desire to cycle back into his old job.