By Mark W. Olson, Community Editor, July 19, 2018
Long-time area residents may recognize a local name this campaign season.
Mike Rothman, who served as Minnesota Department of Commerce commissioner for seven years under Gov. Mark Dayton, is running for Minnesota attorney general.
“I thought the next thing after being the commissioner of commerce is I would be ready to run for the attorney general office, to continue my public service, particularly protecting consumers,” Rothman said, in a recent phone interview. “With my legal background, I thought it made sense to give it a shot and continue to work for the people of Minnesota.”
Rothman filed as a candidate on June 5. “With my experience, and taking that all into account, I felt it was a good step to take to continue to help Minnesotans,” he said, of the filing.
Before he was commerce commissioner and an attorney general candidate, Rothman was a class of 1980 Chaska High School student.
While growing up in the Jonathan neighborhood’s East Scott Lane in the 1970s, Rothman would head down to play hockey at the nearby ice rink every chance he got, he recalled in a Jan. 28, 2011 Herald article.
He began playing junior varsity hockey, but left for a greater passion – the debate team. Along with debate partner John Kincannon (who later embarked on a successful career in the U.S. State Department), Rothman won Chaska’s first state championship in debate.
“The ability to have the confidence in speaking and developing an argument, and stating your position. Finding barriers or inherent problems and proposing a plan or solution to make the world better – that’s what debate gets you to think about,” Rothman said, in the 2011 article.
Rothman also had another truly local experience – working as a caddy at Hazeltine National Golf Club, beginning at age 11. Among the tournaments he caddied was the 1977 U.S. Women’s Open.
His childhood is highlighted on his election website, where Rothman notes he organized a 1979 Chaska High School student walkout in support of a teachers strike.
Rothman attended Carleton College and the University of Minnesota Law School. He served as a staffer with the Minnesota Senate and a law clerk for the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Before his commissioner appointment, he had worked as an attorney at Winthrop and Weinstine, P.A., since 2002, specializing in insurance regulation.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced on June 4 that she was running for governor, prompting some stiff competition for her current role.
There are nine candidates who have filed to run. Rothman will be competing against five fellow DFLers in the Aug. 14 primary, including U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison.
“My focus is to show that I have the best experience, the most experience, both being the commissioner of commerce, and having been an attorney for 30 years in the courtroom,” Rothman said. “To start as the attorney general and protect Minnesotans from day one.”