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Clark’s a long way from locking up the DFL nomination to run against Cravaack

Former President Bill Clinton joined Tarryl Clark on the campaign trail in 2010.
MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen
Former President Bill Clinton joined Tarryl Clark on the campaign trail in 2010.

A couple of things are clear about Tarryl Clark’s announcement over the weekend that she’s going to run for Congress again — but this time in what is now the 8th Congressional District against U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack.

1. Clark wants nothing to do with running against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann — or running in the 6th Congressional District — again. Despite getting tons of traditional DFL support, despite raising more than $5 million, Clark was shellacked by 13 points in November.

2. Her decision to take aim at Cravaack obviously was no spur-of-the-moment deal. This was one carefully rolled out start to a new campaign.

On Saturday, she conducted an interview with a reporter from the Duluth New Tribune saying not only is she planning to run against Cravaack, but that she’s buying a condo in Duluth where she plans to spend “a good chunk of time.”

On Sunday, she released a slick YouTube video, explaining that “she can’t sit back and watch this happen to seniors and the middle class.”

“This,” as Clark sees it, is exploitation by Republicans, Wall Street and big oil executives. She does not mention Cravaack in the video.

Clark’s decision to run in the 8th isn’t exactly stunning political news. There have been rumors that she might switch to the 8th ever since some of the DFL’s potentially strongest 8th District candidates — former Rep. Tony Sertich and state Sen. Tony Lourey — took themselves out of the running.

But her decision to run doesn’t mean that she’s got the DFL nomination locked up. Far from it.

Clark, who lives in St. Cloud and will maintain her home there, was the fair-haired party choice to run against Bachmann.

Looking for candidates
The DFL is desperate to take this seat back from Cravaack, who ended the party’s 64-year hold on the seat when he ended Jim Oberstar’s 36-year Congressional career in November.

The further we’ve come from that election, the more DFLers are blaming Oberstar for the loss. Yes, there was the huge Republican wave in 2010. Still, DFLers say, Oberstar ran an indifferent campaign against Cravaack, an unknown until November. Oberstar, DFLers say, forgot to come home often enough from Washington.

Rep. Chip Cravaack
Rep. Chip Cravaack

Clark’s potentially big, big problem among DFLers will be proving that a condo in Duluth really makes her a part of the sweat and iron-ore dust of 8th District political lore.

Members of the U.S. House aren’t required to live in their districts, but it’s pretty tough to say you ought to represent people you don’t live with.

Still, had Clark merely stayed put in St. Cloud, there’s a chance, through redistricting, that her home would have placed her in the fringes of the district. (Remember, Cravaack’s residence is barely at the edge of the district.)

But even though the Republican-dominated redistricting committee is releasing its version of what the state’s Congressional districts today, there’s little chance this version will be agreed on by DFLers or by Gov. Mark Dayton. That means it could be almost a year before the courts decide what district seats will look like for the 2012 election.

Clark clearly couldn’t wait for a final map drawing before entering.

Cravaack has shown that a suburbanite — and a newcomer — can win in the 8th. Long before Cravaack knocked off Oberstar, Republican Party chairman Tony Sutton noted that there had been a substantial population shift in the 8th from the Iron Range and Duluth to the suburbs in the Chisago Lakes area.

The new census showed that population shift has continued. And, in some ways, Clark fits this new 8th. She’s moderate in her style, has a soccer mom appeal.

Still, it’s far from clear whether the DFL in the 8th can support someone who is so far removed from the mines.

In the News Tribune article about Clark’s decision to enter the race (and buy the condo in Duluth), the 8th District DFL chairman, Don Bye, offered a mild welcome to the 8th District race.

“She will be one of the most serious candidates,” he said.

Other potential candidates
There are a handful of other potential candidates, most of whom have not made their intentions clear.

For example, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon recently said that a number of people in the 8th have asked her to run, but she said she hasn’t made a decision yet.

A newcomer, Rep. Carly Melin, who replaced Sertich in the House in a special election only a few months ago, is from Hibbing and could excite the old Ranger crowd. Though only 29 years old, Melin, who served on Sertich’s staff, knows politics and already has shown doesn’t mind a rumble.

For her part, Clark believes that DFLers aren’t going to worry about deep ties to traditional places as they are about winning the seat back.

“You know last year was a tsunami that saw an awful lot of big interests putting money in to mislead people,” Clark told the Duluth paper. “I believe right now that people are seeing what these more extreme people are up to.”

Clark said this race will be far less costly than her race against Bachmann. Presumably, leftover funds from that race are allowing her to kick off this race with a slick video and a staff.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/09/2011 - 10:16 am.

    According to the house Republican map just issued, Tarryl’s Duluth condo means that she would run against Collin Peterson.

  2. Submitted by Daniel Kammerer on 05/09/2011 - 11:14 am.

    I have an idea ,why doesn’t Tarryl go find a real job. Is she not qualified to do any thing but work in government. Oh sorry what was i thinking of course not.

  3. Submitted by don carter on 05/09/2011 - 12:04 pm.

    Wow…How low can one go..this political hack has no shame. How transparent… can’t win…move to another district.

  4. Submitted by Francis Ferrell on 05/09/2011 - 12:27 pm.

    With all due respect to the elected Congressional representatives, the new redistricting is going to be a political wake-up call and political crap shoot for the next decade. It stands to reason that MN politics will never be the same again.

    Unless the elected pols start acting as responsible and civil individuals progressing to get this country on the tracks to economic health, then redistricting here in MN and the other redistricted states is going to drag the country down further. Yes, I am being the proverbial soothsayer, or doomsayer, but remember history has shown the odds are with the negatives here when politicians are not acting in the people’s best interests.

    This MN redistricting time in favor of the GOP might bear my musings out to the fore. However, if the political parties don’t get back to their core values and basic platforms besides learning how to govern by Constitutional tenets and/or astute compromise then this country will be on the backward slide to [xxxxxxxxx]! You fill in the parenthetical. I rest my case……

    Redistricting may be beneficial but only if good and progress result from shaking up the political trends.

  5. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 05/09/2011 - 01:29 pm.

    Tarryl Clark was an excellent state senator and would be an excellent representative in Congress.

    That she doesn’t want to go through another round with Michele Bachmann — financed by folks like the Koch brothers and other corporate giants who this time can even hide their identities — can raise tens of millions of dollars without even trying. The anti-Clark (or whoever) propaganda will be designed to promote sort-of-truths as well as false interpretations of truths.

    Bachmann will be defeated when 6th district voters realize, at last, what an extremist and often outlandishly ignorant politician she is. Perhaps even in 2012 by whoever chooses to oppose her — in spite of the Right’s money machine.

  6. Submitted by Iven Coffee on 05/09/2011 - 03:29 pm.

    Don’t overlook former Congressman Rick Nolan. He is on record as considering a run in the old 8th. (He lives in Crosslake.)

  7. Submitted by Dave Seitz on 05/09/2011 - 08:53 pm.

    So Tarryl Clark uses a Condo in Duluth as a new home. Her husband will not be living with her there. Will this be listed on the taxes as Homestead and her other home as vacation or what?
    After seeing first hand the paid staffer of Tarryls’ and members of the DFL. Behavior at the Sherb.Co.Fair booth last year that was so bad Joel Brott had to talk to them. It is clear what a class less person she and the crew are.

  8. Submitted by Eric Larson on 05/09/2011 - 09:06 pm.

    TC has one misstep already. Doing her coming out with the Duluth News Tribune. Granted it’s the largest. But it has fresh Oberstar blood on it’s hands. And if you believe Mike Hatch…….. Well let’s not go there just yet. Plus last I checked, it’s got outatown owners. If she wanted to make the big score and show the 8th she was ready for the show, she should have went to the Mesabi Daily News or the HibbTrib. Or better yet both at the same time. Daily’s with punch and local ownership.

    Well what do you expect with a brain trust provided by Garrison Keilor, EMILY’s, NARAL, and lots of people from 554xx / 612&651.

  9. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/10/2011 - 06:55 am.

    “That she doesn’t want to go through another round with Michele Bachmann — financed by folks like the Koch brothers and other corporate giants”

    Bernice, Michele Bachmann was financed by people like me, at $50 a head. You can look it up. I know the truth hurts but exageration makes a poor salve.

  10. Submitted by Carol Flynn on 05/11/2011 - 12:01 pm.

    #7 Dave Tell, tell–what happened at the County Fair???

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