When Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN 6th) announced she would not run for re-election and DFL challenger Jim Graves dropped out of the race, (see post dated May 31, 2013), potential candidates started lining up as they considered their prospects for the Sixth District open seat. The seat leans 57 percent GOP and has portions of multiple counties including Benton, Stearns, Wright, Sherburne and Anoka. It surrounds the St. Croix River Valley, northern suburbs, St. Cloud and extends south to Carver County.
Former State Representative Tom Emmer (R-Delano) has announced his candidacy. Emmer ran for Governor and narrowly lost to current Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN) in 2010. Emmer is a conservative with good street cred for the Sixth District. Emmer has hosted a morning radio talk show and likely has the highest name I.D. of the potential candidates. He is a favorite to win the GOP endorsement but will be challenged by others. He has agreed to abide by the GOP endorsement.
Anoka County Board of Commissioners Chair Rhonda Sivarajah has also announced that she will run for the seat. Sivarajah has been very active in the district serving on the Anoka Board since 2003 and chair since 2011. She is a strong fiscal conservative with Bachmann-like ideals but a lower profile. She will seek the endorsement but did not commit to abide by the decision.
Also jumping into the race is current State Senator John Pederson (R-St. Cloud). Pederson is a two term Senator from St. Cloud who touts his open door policy and his willingness to listen before casting a vote as strengths for the district. Environmental activist Judy Adams from Circle Pines is the only DFL announced candidate at this time.
First Congressional District Race Sparking Interest
Minnesota’s First Congressional District is currently represented by fourth term incumbent Democrat Tim Walz. The district includes the state's southern end, running along the entire border with Iowa and includes Rochester, Austin, Winona and Mankato.
State Representative Mike Benson (R-Rochester) announced his candidacy for the seat this week. Benson, a two-term State Representative and Associate Professor of Business at Crossroads College, is an outspoken critic of government spending and mandates. Benson will seek, but did not commit to abiding by the Republican endorsement.
Former State Senator Al DeKruif (R-Madison Lake) has also expressed interest in running but has not officially announced his candidacy. A strong candidate with good family name I.D., State Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), has decided not to run citing his young family and increased responsibilities with his family business.
Minnesota’s U.S. Senate Seat Gains Attention
U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has high approval ratings after his narrow victory in 2008. He is a favorite to win re-election in 2014, has $2 million in the bank, and formidable fundraising potential due to his Hollywood connections. Franken has managed to avoid controversy and keep himself above the fray in DC. Thus far, two GOP candidates have announced their intention to challenge him for the seat.
Long time State Representative and former Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate this week. Abeler is serving his eighth term in the Minnesota House representing the Anoka area. He is a chiropractor with a libertarian bent and strong commitment to personal and religious freedom, smaller government and personal privacy. In his statement to supporters via email he said, “The personal and religious freedoms that were intended for us by our Founding Fathers are being steadily eroded. Government spending is out of control and unsustainable. Massive debt to foreign countries threatens our sovereignty. Our children and grandchildren are born into a future as indentured debtors of our country's careless spending. When we are dependent on the government, we are absolutely not free."
Also vying for the seat is businessman Mike McFadden. He is a successful finance and asset management executive from Sunfish Lake. McFadden is a political newcomer. He has said he will seek the GOP endorsement but did not rule out a primary run.
Four term State Senator Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) is another potential candidate for the seat. The former Senate Tax Chair is a strong conservative and her name keeps popping up amongst Republican political operatives.