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.
Candidates from big races hit northern Minnesota during the past week, New Ulm attracted candidates after its flooding, and Duluth continues to get attention. By now, it’s clear that the opioid crisis and consumer protection are hot topics this midterm election.
A day after our stormy national holiday last week, Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency in 36 counties due to severe flooding. With southwest Minnesota suffering from extremely high water levels, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Collin Peterson and gubernatorial candidate Rep. Tim Walz spoke with local officials and emergency responders in New Ulm. Tyler Seggerman for KEYC-Mankato writes, “As for smaller communities, assistance [will] come in the form of money with Senator Klobuchar expecting statewide damages to meet the threshold of $7.7 million.”
Guv candidates seek unity
Walz continues to tout his ability to bridge divides as “a rural Democrat” at Hutchinson’s Days Inn. In 15 minutes with the Hutchinson Leader, he answers questions centered on rural Minnesota’s transportation funding, voters, and environmental legislation.
Meanwhile, gubernatorial candidate state Rep. Erin Murphy visited International Falls for the third time last week Monday. Editor Laurel Beager of the International Falls Journal reports Murphy’s message to Minnesotans as: “We’re stronger together than apart, and we’re more alike than different.” Similar to Walz, Murphy advocates for Minnesotans to come together under her leadership.
The opioid epidemic is a frontrunner among issues — so much so that the CD2 Republican candidate, incumbent Rep. Jason Lewis, held a opioid roundtable on July 2 in Apple Valley. This was, in part, to follow up on the Opioid Advisory Committee bill that the candidate introduced with Matt Cartwright, D-Pennsylvania. If this bipartisan bill passes the Senate, the committee will advise the secretary of labor on workplace practices that address the crisis.
Speaker Paul Ryan and CD3’s incumbent Rep. Erik Paulsen met privately with Best Buy employees on Monday. Demonstrators from the group Indivisible MN 03 gathered outside to protest the consequences of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the private nature of the meeting.
The race for AG
Attorney general hopeful Rep. Keith Ellison took his campaign to northern Minnesota, visiting iron-ore mining cities Duluth, Aurora, Eveleth and Nashwauk the week of Independence Day. On Thursday he stopped in Grand Rapids and Bemidji, following up with Moorhead and Fergus Falls the next day. He states, “I don’t need to stay in Minneapolis. … You can’t ask somebody to support you if they don’t know you.” Ellison has represented the 5th Congressional District since 2006; he knows he has to focus on Trump territory. Earlier in June, Ellison was busy campaigning in southern Minnesota. His message is still the same wherever he goes: eliminating discrimination in the criminal justice system and the workplace, consumer justice, constitutional freedoms and alternative punishments in drug and specialty courts. Ellison has announced plans to return to Duluth on Friday with Bernie Sanders, his new key endorsement (the two will also appear in Minneapolis together that day).
Ellison wasn’t the only DFL AG candidate to visit Bemidji last week. Matt Pelikan and Mike Rothman participated in Bemidji’s annual Jaycees Water Carnival and promised the same consumer protection. The Bemidji Pioneer’s Matthew Liedke reports, “Pelikan said he would fight for economic opportunity if elected and would stand up for both workers and consumers. Additionally, Pelikan said he would work on enforcing antitrust laws and common sense gun safety. … If Rothman were to earn the nomination and win in November, he said he would focus on consumer protection, especially for seniors and veterans, along with Minnesota’s environment. Additionally, Rothman said he would launch an effort to take on opioid companies, if elected.” As Minnesota’s former commissioner of commerce, Mike Rothman is always quick to reference his past involvement within these issues. That same day, he waved to crowds in Eveleth and Walker parades after visiting Nisswa the night before.
Talking tourism in Duluth
Along with its summer tourists, Duluth has been receiving a lot of Minnesota’s candidates and politicians. Tourism continues to grow, the most saturated moment being Trump’s recent rally. Sen. Amy Klobuchar visited Duluth City Hall to talk about attracting international visitors.
For the very first time, four major political events will take place at the agricultural festival FarmFest (Aug. 7-9). With all five gubernatorial candidates planning to attend the event in rural Morgan, there will be a forum for governor, as well as forums for both the U.S. Senate races and seats in the U.S. House. Main candidates for tight races in Congressional Districts 1, 2, and 8 will participate in political discussions not limited to agriculture, but also on related issues: free trade/tariffs, health care, and immigration.