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Leaked email from Duluth mayor to newspaper urging Oberstar endorsement raises ruckus

When Duluth Mayor Don Ness sent an email to the Duluth newspaper last week — urging an endorsement of incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar — he thought the communication would be private.

But the email, was leaked and then published on a Republican website, minnesotademocratsexposed.com.

The newspaper ended up endorsing Oberstar’s challenger, Republican Chip Cravaack.

Ness — who had once been Oberstar’s campaign manager — told the paper he’s  “extremely disappointed” about the leaked email and considered it  “a violation of trust.”

He said he’d heard rumors of the pending endorsement of Cravaack and wanted the paper’s editorial board members to know why he thought Oberstar was the better candidate.

In the original email, Ness wrote:

“When you consider that during the next two years it would be Jim Oberstar who would oversee the creation of the next surface transportation re-authorization bill, throwing an honorable man out of office at the very moment that he will author the defining legislation of his life would be nothing short of a cruel travesty — both to the man himself, but moreso to the state of Minnesota and the people of northern Minnesota.”

And he criticized Cravaack: calling him “well-practiced at tea-party and Karl Rove sound-bites.”

The paper’s editorial page editor, Chuck Frederick, said he had forwarded Ness’s email to members of the paper’s editorial board, which includes some citizen representatives.

One of those citizen representatives, Bob Hansen, told the paper he sent the message to his wife and a peer but asked that it be kept confidential.

The newspaper notes that “Hansen co-founded the Northern Liberty Alliance, which advocates for more fiscal responsibility and limited government. He also started the first tea party group in Duluth two years ago.”

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Bill Coleman on 10/29/2010 - 02:12 pm.

    Mayor Ness should not be apologetic. For all of the NE MN folks planning to vote for Cravaack, they should realize that the district would fall off the map for getting any transportation improvements funded. All of MN would suffer if we lose Oberstar’s position and power at the US Capitol.

  2. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 10/29/2010 - 03:42 pm.

    First, the point in the email is sensible and I don’t see anything inappropriate about the communication (though the question is solely about what Mr Oberstar’s reelection would mean for Minnesota, not about how he might be disappointed not to be reelected). Second, why would Mr Ness believe it would remain secret, and why would he care? Third, the headline refers to a “ruckus.” What’s the ruckus? This is trivial.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/29/2010 - 03:52 pm.

    The only thing I find offensive in this letter, is the sense of entitlement it conveys towards Oberstar.

    It’s obvious that the Democrat party feels it owns Northern Minnesota.

    It’s also clear that Oberstar has lost touch with the district. While he glowered over the crowd (I swear he was channeling Richard Nixon!), Chip Cravaak conducted himself with professionalism, grace and exhibited an excellent grasp of the issues important to his future constituents.

    Hopefully Oberstar’s forced retirement will remind the DFL that the 8thCD belongs to the people, not the Democrat party.

  4. Submitted by Niel Ritchie on 10/30/2010 - 07:24 am.

    I agree the mayor’s comments weren’t out of line, especially considering his personal and professional relationship to the Congressman. Without question, the eighth district would lose big time by replacing the sitting Chairman of the Transportation Committee. The same is true of ranking members as well. That’s just the way it is.

    This is (another) cautionary tale of not sending anything via email that you don’t want to be public.

  5. Submitted by Sandy Huseby on 10/30/2010 - 03:17 pm.

    Duluth’s mayor owes no apology for honorable advocacy. Our Fargo mayor has endorsed Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, and we respect him for that and much more.

    As for the “editorial board” in Duluth…that paper and most every paper in the region not the Strib are pretty much all owned by one conservative Republican Fargo-based family.

    Their endorsements are based on Republican candidates and their talking point spin. The ruckus should be directed toward these hard right corp participants in the Republican Propaganda Media.

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