Welcome to This Week in Campaign Coverage, a roundup of notable 2018 election reporting from Greater Minnesota. Look for it each week until Election Day.
Pride month has ended, early voting started June 29, and Independence Day has given all Americans the opportunity to reflect on our political origins. For Minnesotans, the nature of the 2018 elections and President Trump’s recent visit to Duluth has meant that many eyes are on the state. So perhaps it’s not a surprise that Minnesota candidates are making national headlines.
CD1 candidate Dan Feehan, for instance, is featured in a CNN article about the wave of veterans running for office this year. Why the turn to recruit and fund veteran candidates for the DFL? Dan Merica and Ann Grayer write: “In the era of Trump, where uniqueness is prized, Democrats’ decision to turn to veterans in 2018 hinges on voters across the country, fed up with typical politicians, looking to candidates with distinct backgrounds.”
Meanwhile, as pride month wrapped up, the DFL candidate in CD2, Angie Craig, was featured in Cosmopolitan as one of the 16 LGBTQ candidates to watch in the midterm elections.
And U of M law professor and Senate candidate Richard Painter is making headlines (again) for switching from the GOP to the DFL. Following his dumpster-fire-themed campaign advertisement going viral, the former chief ethics counsel for George W. Bush is interviewed by Dan Amira for the New York Times. He talks about why he switched parties, names EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt as the worst ethical offender in the Trump administration, and elaborates on his experience witnessing Watergate at age 12.
CD3 Rep. Eric Paulsen is among the 42 Republicans in the House who have joined the Climate Solutions Caucus, which is described as “a bipartisan group … which will explore policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate.”
He met in June with young Edina sisters Mina and Aryanna Rossi in Washington, D.C., at the annual Citizens’ Climate Lobby conference. As Andrew Wig at the Edina Sun Current writes of Paulsen: “Instead of focusing on political affiliation, or even on politicians themselves, he’s focusing more and more on the next generation of climate-change advocates. Part of that strategy is to make lobbying trips, such as the recent visit to Washington, more appealing to everyday people.”
Paulsen is looking (again) to repeal the ObamaCare 2.3 percent medical device tax, not a big surprise given the high number of his constituents who work in the medical devide industry. Paulsen first tried to repeal the tax in 2010, and in January 2017 tried again. As Peter Sullivan at The Hill writes, “Repealing the device tax would reduce federal revenues by about $20 billion over 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.” Paulsen’s most formidable Democratic opponent, Dean Phillips, also favors repealing the tax.
In his visit to southwest Minnesota on June 29, governor candidate Rep. Tim Walz talked about addressing the divisions among different groups of people, focusing on common interests. Deb Gau at the Marshall Independent writes: “Walz said his vision as governor would be to help build bridges so Minnesotans can achieve common goals, like improved transportation infrastructure and quality schools. Having a strong educational system is key in developing a competitive workforce, he said.”
Four of the five gubernatorial candidates stood side by side June 28 at the Economic Development Association of Minnesota conference in Nisswa, which you no doubt already read about in MinnPost. Among other things, Lori Swanson reiterated her promise to meet with 201 state legislators if elected, only to prompt a rebuttal from state Rep. Erin Murphy: “It’s going to take more than breaking bread with 201 legislators to break the log jam inside the Capitol.” The only big-time candidate absent was Tim Pawlenty, leaving Jeff Johnson as the lone Republican at the event.
On Saturday, DFL-endorsed attorney general candidate Matt Pelikan joined those protesting Trump’s border policies in Brainerd, where he said he sees a need for a “strong, assertive form of progressivism.” Gabriel Lagarde for the Brainerd Dispatch reports that Pelikan’s campaign is focusing on protecting civil rights and fighting the power of corporations. Pelikan told the paper: “The concentration of too much economical and political power in too few hands is one of the greatest challenges facing our country right now. The attorney general is empowered to shift the balance of power back to the lower and middle class.”
Meanwhile, MPR’s Brian Bakst reported attorney general candidate Rep. Keith Ellison’s stance on abortion rights. At a news conference, Ellison said he wouldn’t defend any new abortion restrictions that the Legislature might choose to pass since he would consider them unconstitutional. That same day he was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota and announced his plan to defend the Affordable Care Act.
Last but not least, we’d be remis for not pointing you to Don Davis’ Capitol Chatter column for the Forum newspapers, in which he looks at Sen. Tina Smith’s reaction to the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy; rural broadband funding; GOP governor candidate Jeff Johnson’s “overthrow the status quo” tour, and Farmfest.