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Richard Painter to run as Democrat for Minnesota Senate seat vacated by Franken

Richard Painter, a former ethics chief during former President George W. Bush's administration who has become a high-profile critic of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE, formally announced Monday that he would be running for a Minnesota Senate seat as a Democrat.

Painter, a frequent presence on cable news who has become well-known for his broadsides against Trump, said his former party had essentially left him.

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"I tried to salvage the situation with the Republican Party for a long time," he said at a press conference announcing his candidacy. “We’ve had for decades a departure from the fundamental values of the Republican Party and from America.”

The Star Tribune first reported Sunday that Painter had filed paperwork with federal elections officials to run against Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) in the Democratic primary.

Smith was appointed to fill former Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans The Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots The Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory MORE’s (D-Minn.) seat after he resigned under the cloud of sexual harassment allegations.

Painter, 56, at the press conference announcing his bid, called for people to “stand firm against what President Trump is threatening to do to our country.”

He argued that Trump is changing the GOP.

“Republicans insist that if you’re going to run for political office, you have to be loyal to President Trump,” Painter said. “This is wrong. This is not the America I want to live in. This is not the America I want my children to live in.”

State Sen. Karin Housley (R-Minn.) is running for the GOP nomination for the seat.

The winner of November's election will serve out the remainder of Franken’s term, which runs though 2020.