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This week in campaign coverage: AG contenders fan out, Stauber’s ‘Trump effect,’ and tariff talk

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump, center, appeared onstage with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, and CD8 candidate Pete Stauber, right, at last week's rally with supporters in Duluth.

Welcome to This Week in Campaign Coverage, a weekly roundup of notable 2018 election reporting from Greater Minnesota. Look for it each week until Election Day.

It was a fairly quiet week on the stump in Minnesota, but the upcoming start to absentee voting and next week’s Independence Day celebrations should change that.

Attorney General

Kevin Featherly at Minnesota Lawyer talks to attorney general candidate Debra Hilstrom. “One thing she won’t do, she said, is hog the camera or chase the next headline: ‘I am a work horse, I am not a show horse.’ ” Among her top priorities: consumer protection, fighting pharmaceutical price fixing, and stopping school bullying. This week Hilstrom visited St. Cloud, Rochester, and Fergus Falls. In Fergus, she said, “All across this state we’ve seen that corporations and special interest — whether they’re nonprofits or conglomerations — they are constantly trying to put their finger on the scale and everyday Minnesotans need someone to stand up for them, whether it’s for the right to have fair wages, whether it’s access to health care, that’s what you need a strong attorney general for.”

On CNN this week, another DFL AG contender, Rep. Keith Ellison, was forced to address the notion that he has any ties to National of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. In a tense interview with anchor Jake Tapper, he denied ever meeting with Farrakhan. Julia Manchester from The Hill writes, “Ellison defended Farrakhan against accusations of anti-Semitism when he was in school, but later renounced the Nation of Islam when he ran for Congress in 2006, citing the group’s “bigoted and anti-Semitic ideas and statements.

Meanwhile, at WJON studios in St. Cloud, yet another DFL AG hopeful, Mike Rothman, announced that addressing the opioid crisis was his priority. Rothman campaigned in Rochester on Tuesday, citing his experience as Minnesota’s commerce commissioner. While Hilstrom calls herself a “work horse,” Rothman calls himself Minnesota’s “watchdog,” and said in an interview with Duluth’s Eyewitness News that consumer protection would also be a priority.


Republican 8th Congressional District candidate Pete Stauber is “riding the so-called Trump effect” following the president’s visit in Duluth, writes Jerry Burnes in the Mesabi Daily News. “For Stauber, who was a shoo-in by Minnesota Republicans and seen nationally as the party’s best chance to flip a seat, the endorsement of Trump — in a district he won by double-digit points — is another shot in the arm.”

On the DFL side in CD8, more than a dozen mayors announced their endorsement of state Rep. Jason Metsa, Business North reported.

Is Minnesota Trump territory?

A good question. But don’t bet on it (yet), says Marshall Helmberger in a Timberjay column. He writes, “ … there are three reasons why I don’t think Trump will win Minnesota in 2020. First, Hillary Clinton won’t be on the ballot for the Democrats. I’ve written before of Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate and won’t repeat them here. But Trump’s near-miss in Minnesota last time was as much a reflection of Clinton’s unpopularity as it was of Trump’s ability to connect with Minnesotans. But there’s a bigger reason why Trump faces an uphill push in 2020 in the North Star state: Demographics. There may be a growing urban-rural divide in Minnesota, but it’s a divide that the Twin Cities metro is fated to win..” 

The soybean election

Could soybeans influence the election? In Southern Minnesota, pork and soybean farmers are disheartened hearing about Trump’s tariff plans. Dan Merica for CNN Politics says, “The same tariffs that Trump touted on Wednesday have left these growers as collateral damage in an escalating fight with China. Tariffs beget tariffs in the fight, and the Chinese have targeted both American staples, pushing down commodity prices and sinking farm values.” 

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