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Fundraising is officially underway for the campaigns of Minnesota’s 8th Congressional district.  Yesterday, DFL candidate Tarryl Clark sent out a press release announcing that:

The campaign received contributions totaling over $140,000 in the first two months of the campaign. In total, over 1,800 individuals gave the campaign an average contribution of $76. The campaign ended the quarter with more than $130,000 cash on hand.

Duluth City Councilman, Jeff Anderson, has raked in a little over $30,000 in his first month, and though former Congressman Rick Nolan has yet to reveal any official figures, you can be sure that he has some campaign contributions ready to put to work.  All told, since starting their burgeoning campaigns, the DFL candidates have raised well more than what Cravaack was able to make in the first quarter of 2011, $120,000 (though to be fair, overall, he’s had the most time to raise money, so his total campaign coffer sits at about $350,000; still, the DFL has outpaced him starting with the time period when all the campaigns actually existed).  

One has to wonder why the DFL candidates in this race have been able to generate so much momentum.  One reason is probably that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is specifically targeting Cravaack, considering his district a likely place for a Democratic pick up.  Another explanation, though, centers on some of the questionable political choices that Cravaack has made in his tenure as a Freshman Congressmen.  

This morning, the Duluth News Tribune reported that Cravaack is moving with his family to New Hampshire, meaning that he will only be able to spend certain Saturdays within the district.  Cravaack declared the move a chance to spend more time with his children (his wife works in the Northeast area).   Now, on a personal level, that’s a responsible thing for a guy to do.  He wants to be a good dad, and I respect that.  However, it will almost certainly serve to put him out of touch with the people and the problems of the 8th Congressional District, and as someone who is supposed to be representing that area on a national stage, Cravaack’s move seems, in another respect, a rather irresponsible political choice.  

Combine his decision to move out of the district, with his support for Paul Ryan’s budget plan, with his vote to end Medicare as we know it, and with his endangering of the economy through his debt ceiling vote, and Cravaack’s reelection chances start to look somewhat dim.  I’ve written before that I think Cravaack is a smart guy and a good man, but his votes make it clear that he is out of touch with the wishes and the needs of the people he is tasked with representing.  His move makes that lack of contact even worse.  People are taking note, and besides their own messages of progress and prosperity, that’s partly why his opponents have been so successful at raising a rather good chunk of change.  

If I were a gambling man, I’d put the odds of Cravaack winning this next election at somewhere around 35%.  So long as the DFL works hard and stays on point, we should have the opportunity to take back the seat and restore a strong Progressive Minnesotan voice for Medicare, sensible budgeting, and a good education to the Congress.  

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