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Michael Ciresi: "Very Strongly Leaning" Towards a Run

Michael Ciresi – a wealthy trial lawyer who narrowly lost Minnesota’s Democratic Senate primary in 2000 – told the Forward that is he “very strongly leaning” towards making another run in 2008.

As we reported this week in our pages, the 2008 Minnesota race is shaping up to be an exciting affair: Comedian-turned-pundit Al Franken is canvassing Democratic bigwigs for support for a likely candidacy, but could face several strong challengers, including Ciresi.

Ciresi said a formal announcement of his run will likely come “soon” – “within weeks, and probably shorter.”

In 2000, Ciresi spent millions of dollars on his campaign, which was endorsed by the Sierra Club, and ran as a progressive moderate. (He narrowly lost to Target heir Mark Dayton, who went on to win the general election.)

Ciresi is well known as one of the architects of the tobacco company settlements: He was counsel to the State of Minnesota and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota against the American tobacco industry, which sued in 1994 as the second of eventually 46 states to join in the tobacco litigation. In 1998, the defendents agreed to pay Minnesota a $6 billion settlement, and to pay Ciresi’s firm $566 million over two years in lieu of the state’s contingency fee. (Ciresi’s take was reportedly $55 million.)

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