With a sense of destiny, the DFL is missing no opportunity to make gains in the Republican-dominated western suburbs.
The DFL is moving aggressively to capitalize on concerns about a possible conflict of interest involving third-term Republican Sen. David Hann, who is being challenged in District 48 in Eden Prairie by Laurie McKendry, a small-business owner.
Hann — who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which regulates insurance providers — recently took a position with Boys and Tyler Financial Group, an Eden Prairie company that sells such products as health insurance.
“The reality is that you have to call into question someone’s ethics when the job they are paid to do conflicts with his Senate chairmanship of a committee that provides oversight to the industry,” said Ken Martin, chair of the Minnesota DFL Party.
Even though the election is less than a week away, Martin says the party will make some independent expenditures to criticize Hann’s position. “Lots of stuff is going to happen,” Martin promised. “Mail, TV and other paid advertisements.”
Hann was contacted for comment but said he was on the way to the hospital with his wife, who has been receiving chemotherapy treatments. Hann’s website notes his new position with Boys and Tyler but doesn’t offer specifics of what the job involves.
Hann’s re-election battle — like the Senate District 49 race in neighboring Edina, and their companion House seats — will not be an easy win for Republicans. According to Martin, such suburbs as Eden, Prairie, Edina and Minnetonka have been trending, albeit slowly, from red to purple.
“It’s the changing demographics,” Martin said. “There’s a huge influx of Somali voters in Eden Prairie and other minority populations have exploded. All second-rings suburbs are seeing this.”
Hann’s opponent, McKendry, says voters in the district are more socially and fiscally moderate than the current crop of Republicans, whose mantra has been “no new taxes” and who propelled a ban on gay marriage onto the ballot as a constitutional amendment. “These things don’t register here in the western suburbs,” she said.
The DFL is convinced that the race has become very competitive and will spend some money to make it so.