In Mid-December — just a week after Gov. Mark Dayton announced he would appoint Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to take Al Franken’s place in the U.S. Senate (with a clear understanding the Smith would run in the 2018 special election to serve out the two years remaining in Franken’s term), state Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, announced that she would seek her party’s nomination for the Senate seat in that 2018 special election.
I assumed that some better-known Republicans would follow her into the contest for the Republican nomination to take on (presumably) Smith. Tim Pawlenty gave it some thought, but has closed the door. Michele Bachmann went on a TV evangelist show to say she was asking God whether it was his will that she should run, but hasn’t been heard from since. All three Republicans in Minnesota’s congressional delegation (Tom Emmer, Jason Lewis, Eric Paulsen) seem to be running for re-election to their seats in the U.S. House. Emmer, in fact, has endorsed Housley for the Senate.)
Two weeks after Housley declared her candidacy, she reported that she had raised $150,000 (and I’m sure she’s added plenty to that since). Now, six weeks after she announced her candidacy, Housley hasn’t drawn a serious Republican challenger for the nomination, precinct caucuses are a week away and, all of a sudden, many political soothsayers have begun soothsaying that Housley (like Smith on the DFL side) may have a fairly clear path to the endorsement and nomination. (The primary would be in August. Certainly someone from either party, without having contested the endorsement, could decide to challenge the endorsee in the primary.)
I haven’t interviewed nor met Housley. She’s a legislator, a mom, a grandmother, married to a former pro hockey player and current NHL head coach (Phil Housley of the Buffalo Sabres), and worked in TV, radio and real estate. She was elected to the state Senate in 2012.
I decided to put this post up to give you access to one of her first interviews since launching her candidacy, a 15-minute “Facebook live” sitdown with Esme Murphy of WCCO-TV.
It wasn’t a terribly issue-oriented exchange, but she answered the few substantive questions Murphy asked, and seemed to finesse the how-Trumpy-are-you? inquiries.
She broke with Trump on a couple of things — she is an enthusiast for net neutrality, which, ironically, was a big deal to Sen. Franken; she’s for a path to legal status for the “dreamers”; she made a strong pitch gay rights, without specifics. And she gave an absurd amount of credit to Trump’s policies for recent good performance of the economy, and said, incorrectly, that unemployment is at an all-time low.
If you have 15 minutes to spare, see what you think. This link will get you the interview.