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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Minnesota: A Look At 2018 Elections

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 04/28/17 11:35, Edited: 04/28/17 12:31

by Dave Mindeman

I know its early for speculating, but 2018 is going to be a very important election year for Democrats. We have to be in the right place for the right time. So here goes:

1. MN Governor - Democrat.

Here are the declared candidates. Rep. Tina Liebling (Rochester area), Rep. Erin Murphy, St. Paul, Chris Coleman, St. Paul Mayor, Rebecca Otto, current state auditor, and Rep. Tim Walz, 1st Congressional district.

Early speculation has Tim Walz as the front runner. After all it is quite a feat to have the support of Collin Peterson and R.T. Rybak at the same time. Walz has never run state wide but he has good name recognition. He has rural credentials, and for Democrats in 2018, that will be a topic of conversation. Rebecca Otto has run successfully state wide as a 3 term State Auditor. That has to be a plus. She has excellent environmental cred. Her background there will be a metro plus, but maybe a negative in the 8th District. I am not criticizing, it's just a fact. Frankly, she has been consistent in her views and that has not been the case with others. Rep. Erin Murphy is a long time St. Paul legislator. Good health care background, but low name recognition outstate. She declared the earliest and seems to have developed a good network to work with. Hard working campaigner. Mayor Chris Coleman has been a very successful St. Paul mayor. He has accomplished a lot of big things for his city and that gives him a solid executive background. But he is an urban mayor and you have to wonder if that will translate outside the metro area. Rep. Tina Leibling will have tougher name recognition. She has a reputation as a principled fighter for Democratic causes, but right now she seems like a regional candidate - and even that is split by Walz popularity.

2. MN Governor - Republican

There are only 3 declared candidates for now. Christopher Chamberlin is one of those fringe candidates with no elective office experience. Doesn't seem like a factor yet. Blake Huffman is a Ramsay County Commissioner with little name recognition outside of St. Paul. Again, not a factor yet. The first higher profile candidate is Rep. Matt Dean. He was a past GOP Majority leader in the House and has chaired several committees. He is known in GOP circles but not much state wide.

The big announcements are still coming. Jeff Johnson will probably make another run and Kurt Daudt has indicated a solid interest. But the GOP action will probably speed up after the legislative session.

3. Constitutional Offices

I expect that Steve Simon will run again for Secretary of State. He has done a great job and should be favored to win re-election. We will have to see which Republican decides to challenge him. State Auditor will probably be an open seat...and with the legislative attack on the position's power, it will be open speculation as to who will want to take on that challenge.

The biggest question, however, is Attorney General. It is widely believed that Lori Swanson will announce as a candidate for Governor in the near future. I think she is waiting to see more of the field, but it hasn't been much of a secret that she is looking at this seriously. Several legislators have already set up campaigns for replacing her if she decides to run. John Lesch and former Rep. Ryan Winkler are the two biggest names in that regard. Democrats should be strong here either way.

4. Congressional Races

If Tim Walz is the candidate for Governor, that leaves the 1st as an open seat. This will be a Democratic problem because Walz had a narrow victory last time and his opponent Jim Hagedorn is already running again. Hagedorn is not a great candidate, so it will be important to get a solid Democrat to try and hold this seat. This will be a priority race.

In the 2nd District, we are expected a Craig-Lewis rematch. Nothing official on that yet, but Angie will probably get full support to make that second run.

In the 3rd District, Erik Paulsen has been a target for the Indivisible groups and the search is on for a high profile challenger. Frankly, it is too bad that Rebecca Otto does not live in the 3rd, because she would be perfect. Maybe she could pull a Jason Lewis????? Anyway, the hope is that someone will emerge at some point.

In the 4th and 5th, McCollum and Ellison are looking to return.

In the 6th, Tom Emmer is pretty good shape right now, but he is heavily tied to Trump fortunes. And if the President continues his current path, Emmer could get dragged down with him. Hopefully, we will be able to field a solid challenger. I think this is Otto's district, so maybe she will keep that in mind???

In the 7th, Collin Peterson is running again. He will be challenged but it is less likely to be a problem in 2018.

In the 8th we have a situation. Rick Nolan is also toying with a run for Governor and that would put the 8th District in serious jeopardy. Not only would Stewart Mills come back for another try if Nolan isn't there, but there is now speculation that Kurt Daudt may throw his hat in the 8th District instead of a Governor run. A Nolan decision to opt for a governor run would set a number of wheels in motion - and maybe bring out Tom Bakk in a run for Congress as well. A lot of eyes are on the 8th.

I think that sums up where we are at this moment. Like I said, the 2018 cycle is very, very important for Democrats. It is imperative that we take back the legislative House and that we maintain a Democrat in the Governor's seat.

We have a lot riding on all of this, so pay attention and work hard.
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