Yesterday, in The unopposed sun comes out to Morrow with Boyce dropping bid as Republican challenger, Bluestem noted Nikolas Boyce's withdrawal as a candidate in 19A. This evening, we find ourselves engaged by Marshall Independent editor Per Peterson's column, The DFL’s window of opportunity?
Redistricting has altered the political landscape throughout the state, as districts have shifted and have become either larger or smaller, depending on the area. Many of the numbers have changed - District 21 is now District 16, District 20 is now District 17 - so the only unknown out there is who will be serving the new districts in 2013. . . .
"I think it's going to be a relatively good year for the Democratic candidates in Minnesota," said Ted Suss, who said Friday he's already in well into "campaign mode" in his bid to unseat Dahms in Senate District 16. . . .
In addition to Suss--who is a friend--Peterson mentions other Southwest Minnesota Democrats who are strong contenders, such as Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh.
In Qualified candidates keep coming forward, the Worthington Daily Globe editorial board raised a point close to the one Peterson makes:
First, it was Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh announcing he would seek the Minnesota District 22 Senate seat as a DFL candidate.
Next, within days of each other, two more Democrats formally threw their proverbial hats in the ring. District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, a Mountain Lake Republican who is completing his fourth term in the Minnesota House, will face challenger Cheryl Avenel-Navara of Worthington. Meanwhile, in District 22A, Republican Joe Schomacker of Luverne will look to win his second term and defeat Gene Short of Currie.
Both Short and Avenel-Navara have resumes that qualify them as serious candidates for state office
Few rational people have ever accused the Marshall Independent nor the Worthington Globe (part of the Forum Communications chain that one progressive blogger believes is committed to swaying the electorate toward Congressman Chip Cravaack) to be bastions of lefty media.
When the editors' ears perk up at the field of DFL candidates cropping up in corn country, that's basic news instinct at work. There's something afoot out here in greater Minnesota.
Their editorial judgment seconds the sense I got Friday afternoon, meeting Logan Campa for the first time. The young DFLer has filed to challenge Glenn Gruenhagen in House District 18B, which as created when the Sibley County parts of Gruenhagen and Morrow's old districts were combined with the lion's share of Ron Shimanski's old 18A.
It's pretty red: no one ran against Shimanski in 2010, Morrow struggled most in the Sibley County precincts, and Gruenhagen squeaked out his close win over Montgomery Mayor Mick McGuire in part part by pulling the votes from his home county.
But unlike Shimanski in 2010 or Morrow this year, Gruenhagen isn't getting a bye--and while his opponent is young, Campa's record as a student leader at the University of Wisconsin and his grasp of strategy and policy is impressive. He also enjoys the sort of asset that Doug Stang and Kory Kath deployed in winning their districts: large, extended ties among his well-respected across the new district. And he runs against the DFL mainstream by being pro-life and pro-gun rights; while it's not a comfortable match for many in the party, it's a fit for the district.
But in the end, Campa faces an uphill battle steeper than the already-tough ones his cohorts in Southwest Minnesota must fight. Gruenhagen is well-known--with an insurance agency in McLeod County, territory news to him--and the populace red.
The voters can be persuaded to vote for leaders who don't have an "R" attached to their names; Jesse Ventura and Collin Peterson have taken the area in the past, and 2002 DFL House candidate Don Sauter did well in the Sibley County section of the old 25A. And some might point to a splintering Republican Party and a popular President as giving the confident young man a tail wind.
Bluestem suspects none of this will matter for Campa, Oberloh, Short, Avenel-Navara, and Suss. What will make them win isn't a tail wind or a magic bullet brought on by stumbling among the other runner's pit team.
It's voter contact and clear connections with the voters. It's hard work, and like Suss suggests, it's time for them to get into "campaign mode" if they are to stand a chance of being part of shifting control of the state legislature back to the Democratic caucuses.
Photos: Alan Oberloh, mayor of Worthington and ZZ Top (above) Logan Campa, candidate for Minnesota House 18B and successful bear hunter. Will he claim a Republican hide in McLeod and Sibley Counties? (below)