Welcome to This Week in Campaign Coverage, a weekly roundup of notable 2018 election reporting from around Greater Minnesota. Look for it every Wednesday until Election Day.
It’s the week after the June 5 action-packed deadline to file for office in Minnesota, and campaigning in the most competitive races has already intensified.
As part of a statewide tour, DFL-endorsed candidate for governor Rep. Erin Murphy stopped in Albert Lea and Mankato. In the former, Murphy focused on health care, an issue that has been big news in the city over the past year, as the Mayo Clinic has begun transitioning certain services — including intensive care, childbirth, and overnight hospitalizations — to its Austin campus. As the Albert Lea Tribune’s Sam Wilmes writes: “Murphy said Mayo Clinic Health System’s transition of most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin is a downside of a market-based health care system. She advocated for the government directly contracting with providers and ensuring health care is more evenly distributed throughout the state.”
Murphy’s two main opponents in the Aug. 14 DFL primary were also on the road. Attorney General Lori Swanson visited Moorhead on Monday with her running mate, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan. They addressed several issues of concern to rural Minnesota: affordable health care, the cost of college, and rural broadband. Swanson also asserted the need for a solution to flooding along the Red River in Moorhead.
That same day, Swanson and Nolan also visited Duluth, as did U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and his running mate, Rep. Peggy Flanagan, reports Ryan Junti for Duluth’s WDIO-TV: “Swanson and Nolan say they’ll address jobs, affordable health care, education, and the opioid epidemic. Also voicing their support for mining being critical for work in Minnesota. Monday afternoon Gov. candidate Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. candidate Peggy Flanagan met at Duluth Labor Temple expressing support for labor trades.”
(If you really want to get in the weeds of the guv race, Tim Pugmire from MPR News writes about the newest additions to Swanson’s campaign team. The short version: lots of connections to Nolan.)
On the Republican side of the gubernatorial election, in the days before Swanson jumped into the race Trey Mewes at the Mankato Free Press wrote about Tim Pawlenty’s campaign stop in Mankato — DFLer Tim Walz’s hometown. “[Pawlenty] sought to paint Murphy and Walz as far-left candidates who are out of touch with what he sees as the state’s priorities — tax relief for the middle class, health care reform, and stronger vocational training to improve the state’s workforce, among other things,” Mewes wrote. “‘The Democrats are off the deep end,’ Pawlenty said. ‘They’ve really taken wacky positions as it relates to those issues.’”
Laurel Beager at the International Falls Journal asked five questions to each of the four DFL candidates running for Congress in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District — Kirsten Kennedy, Michelle Lee, Jason Metsa, and Joe Radinovich — offering them a chance to outline their background, priorities, strengths, and the reason behind their decision to run. Last Thursday, the four also took part in a candidate forum. Meanwhile, the Timberjay (paywall) reports that polling shows former news anchor Michelle Lee and former state representative Joe Radinovich leading the race at this stage.
The latest legislative session adjourned on May 20, and with it came some big vetoes and (a few) new laws, which will likely be at issue in the fall election. Several legislators from northern Minnesota express their thoughts in this piece from the staff of the Echo Journal: “Though disappointed that Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a tax conformity bill and an omnibus bill that addressed school safety, elder care and opioid issues, area lawmakers did cite some successes. … A major success they applauded was passage of both the pension reform bill and the bonding bill, which includes money for three new veteran nursing homes in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston; money for new mental health crisis centers; and money to help ensure the safety of school structures.”
The week ahead
The DFL will hold a special endorsing convention in Minneapolis for 5th Congressional District candidates on Sunday, June 17. Meanwhile, numerous Democratic candidates on the local, state, and national level will be attending a DFL-hosted fish fry in Bemidji next week on June 18th at the Bemidji Eagles Club.
One last thing
Though it now seems like ancient history, Rochester Post-Bulletin photographer Elizabeth Nida Obert recently published a nice photo gallery of the atmosphere on the floor of the DFL state convention in early June, capturing a wide array of speakers, hopeful faces … and campaign signage.