Times of heightened tension often result in heightened responses, whether in campaign politics or in world politics. Perhaps one of the most famous examples in world politics occurred in 1987 when the union-busting President Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall in order to ease tensions between the east and west. Similar tension erupted this week in the DFL primary contest in northeastern Minnesota after former State Senator Tarryl Clark of St Cloud launched an explosive and completely unprovoked attack on the DFL-endorsed front-runner in the race, former Congressman Rick Nolan of Crosby, and on the popular late former Governor Rudy Perpich of Hibbing. Outraged voters from across the 8th district are now challenging long-time Reagan supporter Clark to take down her sleazy and decidedly Rove-esque television ads and instead focus on the issues.
Among those calling on Clark to take down her ads attacking Perpich's visionary Minnesota World Trade Center and the integrity of both Nolan and Perpich are Duluth community leaders Dan O'Neill and Martha Firling. Both joined Nolan at a Thursday press conference called to address the false and misleading ads, which Nolan referred to as 11th hour gutter politics".
Firling was a Perpich appointee to both the World Trade Center commission and the original Board of Directors. She recalled that Perpich personally asked Nolan to spearhead the commission creating the WTC and said that Nolan worked for four years as an unpaid Chairman of the Board. Firling also noted that Board members were so impressed at the leadership shown by Nolan during his tenure as an unpaid volunteer chairman that in they unanimously asked him to serve as the WTC's first CEO/Chairman. She strongly defended their work to create jobs in Minnesota:
The work of Governor Perpich, Rick Nolan and so many others helped to put Minnesota on the map in the global economy. Rick helped Gov. Perpich fulfill a dream and in the process, helped Minnesota companies create jobs and expand their products to a global market. We need more of this vision and ability in Congress – not deceitful criticism from outsiders like Tarryl Clark, who is only out to pursue her personal political ambitions.Duluth Central Labor Body President O'Neill noted how important the World Trade Center was to organized labor because of the jobs created by construction of the center and by opening up Minnesota to global trade. He defended Nolan and had harsh words for Clark:
Political candidates always talk about "job creation". Rick Nolan is more than just talk – he has proven he knows how to create real jobs, and he is the exact type of person we need in Congress.As of Friday evening, Clark's smarmy ads are still polluting the airwaves of northeastern Minnesota, offending all who have a sense of ethics and fair play. She should heed the words of the president she so tenaciously supported even after watching him bust a union.
Tarryl Clark and her campaign should be ashamed. We have no need for dishonest, malicious, 11th hour attack ads. Being that Tarryl Clark isn't from this district, she obviously doesn't understand that this isn't how we do politics in northern Minnesota. We have real problems to face without trying to use negative attacks to tear others down.
Tarryl Clark, take down those ads!
Cross-posted at Iron Country Free Press