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Possible challenger to Paulsen surfaces

James A. Lawrence
UnileverJames A. Lawrence

A possible Democratic challenger to Third District Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen has surfaced. He is Minneapolis and New York businessman James A. Lawrence.

In a poll conducted by Kalamata Research, a Florida-based company, Lawrence was identified as a Democrat and a former executive with Northwest Airlines and General Mills. The pollster has been calling residents in the Third District with a 10-minute survey that asks general questions about party identification and opinions about President Obama and Congress. Then the poll zeroes in with specific questions about Paulsen and his votes on the government shutdown and budget cuts.

The poll also appears to be testing messages that Lawrence’s team may be considering.

When contacted, Lawrence was cordial but offered only “no comment” on his political future.

Lawrence, 60, holds an impressive resume. He is listed as CEO of Global Investment Banking of Rothschild North America in New York. With business degrees from Yale and Harvard, he served as General Mills’ chief financial officer from 1998 to 2007. Prior to that he held the same post at Northwest Airlines. He was also a partner at Bain and Company, the consulting company where Mitt Romney was CEO.

Lawrence is a member of multiple corporate boards, including Apple, a trustee of the University of Minnesota Foundation, and a member of the board of directors at the Minnesota Orchestra.

Democratic recruiters have said the government shutdown gave them an opportunity to field credible candidates in swing districts like Minnesota’s Third. Lawrence could be that kind of candidate. A preliminary poll would show whether he has a reasonable path to take on Paulsen in 2014.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by David Frenkel on 11/07/2013 - 11:34 am.


    Paulsen has made his short political career on being pro-business which Lawrence would certainly give Paulsen a run for his money on that topic. If anybody is going to run against Paulsen they better announce it soon. Paulsen like most people in Congress spend their whole political careers running for the next election so Paulsen is already a year up on any potential Democratic candidate.

  2. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/07/2013 - 01:19 pm.

    A Bain alum

    I hope irony isn’t fatal.

  3. Submitted by Michael Hess on 11/08/2013 - 08:31 am.

    Minnesota Orchestra Board- tainted?

    As the lockout drags on and the disaster which is the Minnesota Orchestra grows I wonder how the role of board members who created this situation will impact them in other places like elections. I would expect a negative labor reaction to support someone who had been behind the treatment the musicians have endured.

  4. Submitted by Sarah Nagle on 11/08/2013 - 11:44 am.


    Really, not much difference between the two. As a recent Minnpost article pointed out, the DFL’s Mpls mayoral victory is pointing the way towards a more coalition-type candidate. Someone like that would be a much more appealing choice for many. Bain and MOA Board member resume? No thanks.

  5. Submitted by Gavin Sullivan on 12/03/2013 - 06:46 am.


    The evidence presented–a poll and a ‘no comment’–does not seem strong; perhaps Ms. Brucato knows more than she’s letting on. A quick look at shows Mr. Lawrence has contributed generously to Jim Ramstad, [Gov.] Mitt Romney and Norm Coleman (in addition to his non-controversial Democratic contributions). If you believe Open Secrets, he resides in Keith Ellison’s district; if you believe his LinkedIn profile he lives in New York. I’d wager a fiver Lawrence won’t run, though I hope I’m wrong.

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