With the Minnesota Primary fast approaching on Tuesday, here's a rundown of the competitive races.
This content originally appeared on LeftMN as three separate posts; congressional preview, state senate preview and state house preview. In the interest of not clogging up the diary sidebar, those three posts have been condensed into this one single post.
Also, I have a Minnesota Primary Prediction contest going, stop by and submit your guesses for a chance to win a coveted LeftMN tshirt.
The Congressional Primaries
Congressional District 1
Mike Parry v. Allen Quist
As most of you probably remember, this race was necessitated by the district Republican endorsing convention's failure to elect a candidate after 24 ballots. When you consider who they had to choose from though, can you blame them for not wanting to pick one?
Since then, and really before as well, both candidates have had rather anemic fundraising, except for the fact that Allen Quist has broken off a chunk of his personal fortune to bankroll his campaign.
Mike Parry has raised about three times as much money as Quist in individual contributions though, which would normally make you think he had this thing in the bag.
But given Parry's recent legislative committee grandstanding and even more recent off-the-reservation comments about Mark Dayton, it seems like he's trying everything he can to turn around what appears to be a sinking ship of a campaign.
Well, that's Governor Dayton's take on it at least, and he's a gentleman who knows a thing or two about political campaigns.
Congressional District 8
Jeff Anderson v. Tarryl Clark v. Rick Nolan
Note: The original version of this write-up was written before Tarryl went on the attack against Nolan. See this post for a more detailed analysis of that development.
This races has been trapped in the same dynamic essentially since it started. Jeff Anderson is the hometown boy who can't quite close the deal, Rick Nolan is playing the sort of Roy Hobbs part, and Tarryl Clark is the rainmaker, showering the district with advertising money.
It's played out to form as well with Nolan getting the DFL endorsement, Anderson getting the endorsement's of seemingly every notable Iron range politician, and Clark raising way more money than the two of them combined.
These last few weeks they've been rolling out their final big endorsements, Clark got the big dog to cut an ad for her, and Nolan got the Minnesota version of the big dog to endorse him, along with a bunch of other old white dudes.
Nolan seems to have the edge, but that's only because both Clark and Anderson's paths to victory involve the other two candidates splitting the vote enough for 38%-35% to be enough.
But both Clark and Anderson have conceivable paths to victory nonetheless. I'm also not convinced that second place is Rick Nolan's floor, as I've heard some suggest.
I think it's conceivable, if unlikely, that any of the three candidates could end up in first, second or third. But it's also conceivable that Rick Nolan approaches 50%.
This has been a rather interesting race for it's lack of things happening. All three candidates have just kind of slogged along, playing into the stereotypes that were hastily constructed upon each of their initial entrances into the race.
There was no big name Iron Ranger who came into the race and immediately cleared the field and such candidates surely exist. But they demurred.
2008 wasn't that long ago, but it seems like a totally different era and the days of a DFLer racking up 65%+ margins in congressional district eight are over. The district wasn't that strongly DFL to begin with and seems to be moving in the GOP's direction.
That's why it's important to win this seat now, before Cravaack can get comfortable.
The Real Senate Primary Races
SD1 – GOP Primary
Steve Nordhagen v. Jual Carlson
While Jual Carlson is a perennial candidate at this point, that didn’t stop him from spending more than twice as much as his GOP endorsed rival Steve Nordhagen this year. And while Nordhagen still has to be considered the favorite, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carlson make a decent showing.
That said, I don’t throw around the “perennial candidate” label lightly, but it’s a label that certainly applies to Carlson and it’s very rare for such a candidate to actually win.
SD10 – DFL Primary
Taylor Stevenson v. Anne Marcotte
DFL endorsed candidate (and 2010 Senate nominee) Taylor Stevenson raised more money and has more cash on hand, but has spent about the same as his primary opponent, Atkin County Commissioner Anne Marcotte.
This race is tough to handicap, Stevenson appears to be the favorite, but I’m not sure it’s a large advantage.
SD17 – DFL Primary
Lyle Koenen v. Larry Rice
This will be Senator Lyle Koenen's second primary election battle this year, he won a special election and the primary the preceded it, for the district 20 senate seat in April.
Larry Rice was the DFL nominee against Joe Gimse in 2010 and looks poised to face him again this cycle as he's crushed Koenen in fundraising so far, raising twice as much as the now incumbent Senator.
The disparity is even greater in individual contributions, a measure that gives a little bit of insight into the level of enthusiasm a candidate can generate. Given that Larry Rice has raised three times more in individual contributions, it appears as though he's generating more support right now.
If I was a betting man (who are we kidding, I am most certainly a betting man) my money right now would be on Larry Rice.
SD33 – GOP Primary
Connie Doepke v. David Osmek
While Representative Connie Doepke has raised a lot more than her opponent David Osmek, he has raised enough to not completely get blown out of the water. He’s also the party endorsed candidate, so he’s got that going for him.
It’s hard for me not to see Osmek not being competitive in the primary and would even go so far as to say that he’s probably a coin flip to win.
SD47 – GOP Primary
Julianne Ortman v. Bruce Schwichtenberg
Bruce Schwichtenberg has raised some money, but not even close to enough to be competitive with a fundraising machine like Julianne Ortman who should win the nomination easily.
SD57 – DFL Primary
Greg Clausen v. Mike Germain
Former Rosemount High School Principal Greg Clausen is the DFL endorsed candidate in this race and has raised and spent more than twice that of his opponent, 2010 SD37 DFL nominee Mike Germain whose principal source of campaign money has come from a $5,000 personal loan.
Clausen is clearly the favorite.
SD67 – DFL Primary
Foung Hawj v. Tom Dimond v. Robert Humphrey
The second annual SD67 primary scrum will be less convoluted than in 2010, when nine (!) candidates were involved, with the winning candidate, retiring Senator John Harrington getting 31%.
Foung Hawj was in that race too, finishing lumped together with five other candidates at around 10%. The vote totals of the four Hmong candidates in that race add up to over 40%, which should be plenty to win in a three way contest if Hawj can consolidate those voters.
There’s plenty of evidence that he has done that, as he’s destroying his opponents in fundraising, raising almost twice as much as Tom Dimond and Robert Humphrey combined. Given that, I would be surprised if Hawj doesn’t surpass 50% of the vote and win easily.
The Real House Primary Races
2B - GOP Primary
David Collins v. Steve Green
Businessman Steve Green is the GOP endorsed candidate in this race. David Collins, the Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Director, is the insurgent challenger. An insurgent challenger who is also endorsed by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the NRA.
David Collins did not seek the endorsement though, so he is not going back on any promises made about abiding, which always helps. It also helps when you rake in almost three times as much in individual contributions as your opponent.
We'll see how much the GOP party endorsement is worth in district 2B, as Collins looks to be the favorite to win this one. The only thing Steve Green has going for him is the party endorsement, but in a year when the party has no money, is the endorsement really worth anything?
4A - DFL Primary
Sue Wiger v. Ben Lien
Ben Lien is the DFL endorsed candidate, Sue Wiger, stop me if you've heard this before, is the insurgent challenger (okay, I'm done with that motif). Ben Lien works for a family services center. Sue Wiger is the executive director of the Bluestem Center for the Arts.
They've raised about the same amount in individual contributions, and in a case with both candidates raising about the same, the edge probably goes to the candidate with the party endorsement, meaning Ben Lien is probably the favorite.
06B - DFL Primary
Lorrie Janatopoulos v. Jason Metsa
This race is for the DFL nomination for Tom Rukavina's old seat. Jason Metsa missed getting the DFL endorsement at the district convention that followed his resignation announcement by a single vote.
This race has some interesting contours to it, with Metsa getting most of the union support and Janatopoulos getting most of the activist support. Metsa is endorsed by Tom Rukavina, Janatopoulos is endorsed by Ida Rukavina.
If you're interested in finding out more on the particulars, check out this breakdown by Aaron Brown.
On the fundraising front Jason Metsa has raised more overall and in individual contributions and he's spent more, but Janatopoulus hasn't gotten blown out in any of those categories.
If forced to pick, I guess I'd say Metsa is the favorite, but I think it's pretty close to a coin flip.
10B - DFL Primary
Joe Radinovich v. David Schaaf
Joe Radinovich works for the American Federation of Government Employees and is the DFL endorsed candidate. David Schaaf is a former state Senator who most recently served as the East Bethel city administrator.
This article from ABCNewspapers.com goes through Schaaf's whole back story in the context of discussing his ascension to the city administrator's job.
Let's just say that after reading the article, I'm a bit surprised he would decide to challenge an endorsed candidate for election, but than again, he has been in and out of politics his whole life.
He's gotten destroyed by Radinovich in fundraising though, and it doesn't seem likely that he can pull this one out. It's a lot tougher to run against a young go-getter with the party endorsement than to wait in city hall till the filing deadline is almost up and get yourself a city council seat.
11A - DFL Primary
Bruce Ahlgren v. Mike Sundin
Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren is challenging DFL endorsed candidate Mike Sundin. Sundin won the endorsement over three other candidates, none of whom was Bruce Ahlgren.
While Sundin has raised almost twice as much overall money, he's actually raised slightly less in individual contributions than Ahlgren.
This race will be another one that tests the value of the party endorsement.
11B - DFL Primary
Tim Faust v. Nathan Johnson
Former legislator Tim Faust is running against city planner Nathan Johnson. This race features no party endorsed candidate. In that case you might suspect that the veteran legislator would be able to marshal superior financial resources, if you guessed this though, you would be wrong.
The newcomer Johnson has managed to raise more money both in individual contributions and overall. He's also been forced to spend more though, as he faces a name recognition gap.
This confluence of information leads me to suspect that while Johnson may be the slight favorite, this thing could go either way.
11B - GOP Primary
Mitch Pangerl v. Ben Wiener
And the winner of the above race will face the winner of this one, also suffering from a case of no-party-endorsementitus. In this case it's due to the last minute retirement (the day before the filing deadline) of incumbent legislator Roger Crawford for health reasons.
Pine County Commissioner Mitch Pangerl faces farmer and businessman Ben Wiener. Pangerl is leading in fundraising across the board and as a county-wide elected official would seem to have the edge.
17B - DFL Primary
Jessica Rohloff v. Mary Sawatzky
Mary Sawatzky is the DFL endorsed candidate and is a Special Ed teacher at Willmar Middle School and President of the local teachers union.
Jessica Rohloff, a resource director for Habitat for Humanity, is challenging the DFL endorsed candidate in the primary because "the hurried schedule created by redistricting did not allow for the time needed."
Sawatzky has raised more than Rohloff overall, but they've raised about the same amount in individual contributions.
The edge in this race probably goes to Sawatzky, simply because she has the endorsement, and in a primary with no big top of the ticket race driving turnout, that may be what puts her over the top.
33B - GOP Primary
Steve Smith v. Cindy Pugh
This is the main event of the legislative primaries on the GOP side. Steve Smith is in his eleventh term in the house, having first been elected in 1990.
The twist here is that the incumbent legislator Smith, is facing the GOP endorsed candidate and southwest metro tea party founder, Cindy Pugh.
And not only has she received the endorsement of house district 33B Republicans, she also received the very esteemed endorsement of one Kurt Zellers of Maple Grove.
Given that the aformentioned Kurt Zellers, who's neck is incapable of being stuck out, endorsed her, I've got to think that she's got this thing in the bag.
43A - DFL Primary
Peter Fischer v. Bob Hill
In this race we have a case of two candidates agreeing to abide by the endorsement, one of those candidates winning said endorsement (Peter Fischer) and then the other candidate (Bob Hill) deciding that instead of abiding by the endorsement, he meant to say, screw your endorsement.
Not only that, apparently struggling to raise money Bob Hill then went out and loaned himself $25,000 for the race. So while Peter Fischer raised more than twice as much in individual contributions, Bob Hill has raised almost three times as much overall.
The rub? He's got $793 in the bank right now, with over $41,000 of campaign debt!
Peter Fischer should win this one.
59B - DFL Primary
Raymond Dehn v. Terra Cole v. Ian Alexander
This is an interesting race in that there are three candidates who are all raising and spending a good amount of money.
Lawyer and former Republican, Ian Alexander, leads the way with over $18k in individual contributions. Raymond Dehn, an architect, raised almost $13k and Terra Cole, a community organizer, raised almost $11k.
It's tempting to give the edge to Alexander, but in a real live three way race it's really anybody's to win.
All The Senate Primary Races
The embedded google spreadsheets don't seem to be working on the kos, so here are some links.
Note: For a candidate who's cells contain an "X" they don't have a campaign committee registered with the CFB. In others words, they are not serious candidates. Those who's cells contain a "N/A" they have a committee registered, but there are no fundraising reports yet posted to the CFB site.