Welcome to This Week in Campaign Coverage, a weekly roundup of notable 2018 election reporting from Greater Minnesota. Look for it every Wednesday until Election Day.
As you may have have heard, President Donald Trump is holding a rally in Duluth Wednesday evening. In the Duluth News Tribune, Brooks Johnson asks the obvious question: Why Duluth? The possibility of flipping the 8th Congressional District by electing GOP candidate Pete Stauber is one big reason, but also: “ ‘Trump feels like Minnesota is Trump territory,’ ” Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, told the paper. “That would explain why Minnesota is the first state Trump lost in 2016 that will host one of his rallies.” GOPers planning to attend the event include U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, Rep. Tom Emmer and U.S. Senate candidate Karin Housley.
Before the rally, Trump will be holding a roundtable meeting at an undisclosed location to discuss how his policies are influencing the region’s mining industry. As John Myers writes (also for the DNT): “The roundtable is billed as an official presidential visit to highlight Trump’s efforts to limit steel imports and his administration’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations to push more business through the regulatory pipeline faster.”
We have a feeling another issue may come up during Trump’s visit: the administration’s separation policy for families stopped at the U.S. border, a practice Trump reportedly just signed an executive order to stop. In response to the controversy, on Tuesday the Pioneer Press asked a whole bunch of Republican candidates to address the issue, including U.S. Senate candidates Housley and Jim Newberger as well as House candidates Stauber, Rep. Erik Paulsen (CD3), Rep. Jason Lewis (CD2). Said Lewis: “No one wants to see families needlessly separated.”
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the 8th Congressional District, Jason Metsa — one of more prominent candidates running in the DFL primary — is wrapping up a 12-city listening tour. In the Mesabi Daily News, Jerry Burnes writes about Metsa’s recent meeting with small business owners addressing several issues, including job opportunities on the Iron Range.
In the governor’s race, DFL candidate Lori Swanson met with reporters in Rochester on Monday, saying she wants to break partisan gridlock in the state Legislature, and going so far as to promise that she and running mate U.S. Rep Rick Nolan would meet with all 201 legislators before entering office. As Lydia Hansen at the Rochester Post-Bulletin writes: “In addition to statewide issues such as protecting pensions, boosting the job market and improving rural broadband … she hopes to identify common ground where existing bipartisan agreement could speed resolving issues such as the opioid epidemic and treatment of senior citizens.”
On the GOP side of the governor’s race, Tim Pawlenty visited Hutchinson last Thursday to talk to local business leaders, and got into the weeds on education policy, discussing everything from Minnesota’s dearth of school counselors to the value of vocational education and career preparation. Jeremy Jones at the Hutchinson Leader reports, “Pawlenty said four-year degrees are valuable, but the benefit of vocational careers is undervalued. He said it was a mistake to reduce the focus on skills training in public schools.” In case you were wondering, the former governor’s undergrad degree is in political science.
In the race to succeed Swanson as Minnesota attorney general, one of the (many) DFL candidates, Rep. Keith Ellison, campaigned in Greater Minnesota recently, hitting Rochester, Mankato, Faribault, Northfield, and St. Cloud in the last week. As Jeremiah Wilcox at KIMT-TV writes, “Ellison told voters his time in congress has prepared him to take on the role. In congress, you write laws but he now wants to enforce those laws.” In Mankato, Ellison said he would be “The People’s Lawyer for all Minnesotans.” While in Faribault, he talked about the issue of immigration, reports Michael Hughes for the Northfield News: “He said the United States’ recent actions involving deportation and separating parents from their children at the Mexico border was a violation of U.S. and international law, before saying that the economies of southern Minnesota towns like Faribault would suffer drastically without the benefits of immigration.”
In the race for the U.S. Senate seat once occupied by Al Franken, WJON-TV’s Alex Svejkovsky reports on U.S. Sen. Tina Smith’s visit to St. Cloud on Friday, June 15. At a deployment ceremony for the National Guard, Smith stressed the importance of workforce training: “It’s fantastic we are having companies that are creating so many great jobs, but it’s up to us to make sure people are trained and ready to fill those jobs.” She also touted the new Farm Bill scheduled to be taken up by the full Senate after it passed out of the Agriculture Committee.
Last (but not least), in the First Congressional District, the DFL’s endorsed candidate, Dan Feehan, attended the party’s annual picnic at Hermann Heights Park in Brown County on Monday. “I’ve been a soldier, teacher and worked at the Pentagon,” Feehan said. “I didn’t do anything alone. I got things done working with people who decided to step up. Work with us. We’ve got a positive message to get out.”