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Pence touts mining, raises money, during Duluth visit

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Vice President Mike Pence speaking at Industrial Weldors and Machinists in west Duluth on Wednesday.

Just a few weeks after President Trump came to Duluth to rally for Republican Eighth Congressonial District candidate Pete Stauber, Vice President Mike Pence followed on Wednesday to raise votes and money.

Pence likely succeeded on the second front. More than 100 people gave between $1,000 and $2,700 each to meet the vice president at a private residence on Duluth’s Park Point.

For the votes, Pence and Stauber left the sunny, sandy shores of Lake Superior for the smell of machine oil and the gritty factory floor of Industrial Weldors and Machinists, a 65-year-old family-owned company that supplies parts for northern Minnesota’s mines.

The crowd of 60 at IWM in west Duluth was a sliver of the thousands who rallied for Trump in June. But this part of town is the core of the pro-mining vote that Stauber needs to defeat the winner of the DFL primary next week in which only one of the four contenders, Jason Metsa, is an unequivocal mining supporter.

Against a backdrop of a dozen employees and an enormous taconite grinder, Pence tried to sharpen the differences. “I’m told that following the President’s tax cuts, IWM has been reinvesting in their people.  This is the company that actually gave their welders an extra four thousand dollars a year for their pensions,” he said, following a tour of the plant.

“American steel mills are coming back … and they are hungry for Minnesota iron. Mines across the Iron Range are now hiring again. They’re ramping up their capacity again. …  Mining is back in Minnesota.”

The union members who make up IWM’s operation are not a natural fit for a Republican administration and many of them say they are political independents, like employee Scott Massie. But he is a Stauber supporter. “He supports the mines and that’s a job for me,” he said. But Trump? He’s “neutral” on him.

I got a few seconds to ask Pence how this administration, popular among the Republican base, can cross the divide from right to center.

“I think it’s what’s happening in this economy,” he replied. “I think the American people see that rolling back red tape, opening up new opportunities to develop America’s natural resources like we spoke about today, cutting taxes, making the right investments to rebuild the military, that’s all generating results and, I think, the enthusiasm you see all across the country.”

National Republicans believe the message is working well enough in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District to warrant top-level visits. But Stauber’s campaign has also had something of a free ride so far. 

That will change next week, when a DFL opponent finally emerges in the race to succeed DFL Rep. Rick Nolan, now a candidate for lieutenant governor. Both candidates will use their messages and money to chase down independents, whose votes could determine the outcome in November.

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/09/2018 - 09:49 am.

    One Question

    Did Pence mention that he wants to severely weaken or eliminate the ability of the United Steelworkers to negotiate a better standard of living for all those iron miners?

    Separately, Ms. Brucato makes the same error that much of the media does in conflating iron mining and copper nickel mining. No one is “against mining”. Some are in favor of taconite mining but opposed to copper nickel mining.

  2. Submitted by richard owens on 08/09/2018 - 01:00 pm.

    Irony! Don’t be like Mike!

    VP Pence has quite the environmental legacy in his home state- his family business, Kiel Bros., once owners of many gas stations now abandoned in bankruptcy, left many groundwater pollution conditions for Indiana to clean up. The cost to Indiana taxpayers just $20 Million or so.

    He is pushing “mining” of the most dangerous poisonous kind for Minnesota, presumably to get Trump voters who apparently think this is “just mining jobs”. The jobs will last only a few years.

    He’ll never suffer any losses, but we will. We will be stuck with the poison containment ponds for several hundred years.

  3. Submitted by joe smith on 08/09/2018 - 04:02 pm.

    Chemists, chemical engineers

    Environmental experts and mutiple agencies have put together a process to get permits to mine. If Polymet passes the permitting process, they should be allowed to mine. I see where a lot of folks seem to know more than experts in field about copper/nickel mining and oppose it. Living on the Range for 60 plus years I’ve heard all the “local experts” from Minneapolis claim Taconite mining would be much dirtier than iron ore and ruin the Range, still waiting on that. I remember when Judge Lord ruled that Reserve Mining Company had to stop dumping tailings in Lake Superior, to save the lake. Water quality is the same today as in 1977 as far as asbestos type fibers (main reason to stop dumping was asbestos) goes. The copper/nickel scare is the same thing, “local experts” touting the dangers of mining. Most up here didn’t buy the other scares and don’t buy this one either.

    • Submitted by richard owens on 08/10/2018 - 12:51 pm.

      The SCIENCE says:

      “Sufide mining in a wet environment will result in poisonous water held in containment ponds.”

      SCIENCE looks at past results to determine future decisions.

      To wit: Northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Canada, where chemical smelting and crushing/washing sulfide containing ores have left intractable groundwater pollution.

      SCIENCE sees both the burst containments, increased deluge rainfalls and the burst berm that destroyed spawning grounds, water and sewer lines at the Embarrass River in April.


      This isn’t a Republican Democrat thing.

      This is a SCIENCE thing.

      Protect your neighbors water and their kids and grandkids’ water in case they might also need clean water in the future, even if they belong to a party you don’t like.

      Be a protector of the things we cannot replace.

      You can still be a Republican and oppose something else.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/10/2018 - 08:30 pm.


        It seems that if it’s a science thing, it is a Democrat Republican thing. You know, alternative facts and all.

  4. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 08/09/2018 - 08:35 pm.

    You forgot in mention one thing he said

    Pence apparently congratulad UMD on winning the national high school hockey championship. Of course, a conservative talk show host and former governor might not be a hockey fan, but don’t insult people in an attempt to praise them. If powerful men like Pence are not paying attention to the small but memorable victories of ordinary people, how can they recognize and represent them. Sort of like stumbling on policy toward the name of s type of biofuels, particularly if admitting and apologizing for the mistake doesn’t happen.

    Trump and Pence gave shown little respect toward average people. Farmers are getting hammered because of their trade war without a coherent strategy. If you want to support mining, you had better figure out avoiding taxpayers rather than foreign mining companies paying for environmental protection and clean up.

    Not knowing something as basic as what UMD is really is disappointing in s person a heart beat away from the presidency.

  5. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 08/10/2018 - 01:28 pm.

    Northern Minnesota is lost to the Democrat party. Hopefully that will keep the state in GOP hands for awhile longer.

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