The race in Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District was to be one of those contests the whole nation studied. We had Democrat versus Republican in a suburban district that is neither conservative nor liberal.
Moderate Republicans have controlled the seat since 1961. But with Jim Ramstad stepping down, could the Republicans hold on? Would this be a congressional race that would tell us about how far Republicans have fallen? Or would it show that there’s still life in the Grand Old Party?
Alas, answers may not be that clear.
At the moment, there is a Democrat in the contest. Ashwin Madia, a rookie in electoral politics and a recent convert to the DFL, wears his party’s label proudly.
But in a surprising development, the Republican Party does not appear to be fielding a candidate — yet — in this year’s big race. That will change, of course, when its endorsed candidate, Erik Paulsen, actually files for office (the deadline is Tuesday).
But so far, Paulsen, who for seven terms has been a Republican in the Minnesota House, makes virtually no mention of his party affiliation now that he’s running for Congress.
On the home page of his website, Paulsen uses the word “Republican” once. Here’s the context: “I’ve worked with Republicans and Democrats alike to control taxes and spending.”
On the “About Erik” page on his site, he writes about growing up in Chanhassen and meeting the woman who would become his wife in a St. Olaf College math class and family vacations and working for Target Corp. He even points out that for a while he was “House Majority Leader” in the Minnesota House.
Which party was he majority leader of?
He doesn’t mention that. (Hint: It isn’t in the majority anymore.)
On his website’s “Issues” page, Paulsen makes another single reference to Republicans. But again here’s the context: “Both Republicans and Democrats have done a poor job addressing the federal budget deficit.”
On his site, he doesn’t even note that his much-honored predecessors, Bill Frenzel and Ramstad, were Republicans. Writes Paulsen of the two: “Rather than politics, they were guided by the same common sense values I carry with me.”
It’s not until you call up a page titled “Newsroom” that you can find an item that notes that Paulsen is the endorsed candidate of the Republican Party.
Paulsen’s approach seems to be working — at least when it comes to raising cash. His campaign reported Tuesday that Paulsen raised $600,000 in the second quarter of the year and will enter crunch time in the campaign with $1.1 million on hand. (The Madia campaign says it will release complete fundraising information on Monday.)
In a statement about his fundraising, Paulsen had this to say, “It’s clear from our success, people want a Congressman who will fix a broken Congress and get things done.”
But he apparently isn’t so sure that they want a Republican.