Monday, April 10, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: One Minnesota Congressman, and Perhaps Two, To Run For Governor

Minnesota’s first district Congressman Tim Walz has
announced he will not run for re-election for his southeastern
Gopher State seat, but will run for governor in 2018 instead. A
former school teacher, Walz had held the seat for six terms. A
farming region that also includes the booming city of Rochester,
it has traditionally elected centrist Democrats (called the
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party or DFL here) and conservative
Republicans until Walz. In his first election, Walz promised
voters he would serve in the tradition of popular DFL
Congressman Tim Penny, a nationally-known centrist who
served from 1983 to 1995, but it soon became apparent that Walz
was voting more like an urban liberal than a rural centrist,
and his vote margins declined sharply in his recent re-elections,
narrowly avoiding defeat in 2016 as Donald Trump carried the
district by 15 points.

Jim Hagedorn, son of a former first district GOP congressman,
almost beat Walz with his second try in 2016, and now is the clear
frontrunner for the Republican nomination. But Walz’s retirement
is likely to bring other GOP candidates into the contest. No formal
announcements have yet appeared on the DFL side.

Mr. Penny, now the president of a regional non-profit foundation
in the area, and still a popular figure there, said, “The 1st district
is now in play, but Hagedorn may not be the strongest candidate
for the Republicans --- though he does have a jump start on the
others. Still, given recent trends, this district, in my view, leans

Current DFL Governor Mark Dayton is retiring after two terms,
and the DFL field of candidates to succeed him is large. Walz,
largely unknown outside his home district, will likely have an
uphill contest to win his party’s nomination against at least four
or five other DFL candidates who are more well-known in the
Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul (where most of the DFL
votes are in the state). In fact, another incumbent DFL
congressman, Rick Nolan, who represents the northeastern 8th
district, is also reportedly seriously considering a bid for
governor. Congressman Nolan, much better known throughout
the state, might have a better chance for the DFL nomination
than Walz.

Donald Trump almost upset Hillary Clinton last year in this
previously reliable red state, and local Republicans are optimistic
they can win back the governorship in 2018 after winning control
of both houses of the state legislature in 2016. The GOP problem
so far, however, is that no major candidate has entered the contest
for its party nomination.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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