Tuesday morning, three candidates in Minnesota's Second Congressional District were seeking the DFL endorsement for the open seat. By the end of the day, only Angie Craig appeared to remain.
The Uptake's Michael McIntee reports in Craig’s Remaining DFL Opponent Expected To End Campaign On Wednesday:
Angie Craig will apparently have a clear path to the DFL endorsement for Minnesota’s only open congressional seat. Her well-funded opponent Mary Lawrence ended her campaign Tuesday and her only remaining opponent, Roger Kittelson, says he will make an announcement about his campaign late Wednesday.
Kittelson says DFL party officials contacted him shortly after Lawrence’s surprise announcement. They apparently have convinced him to end his campaign also.
That would leave Craig as the only announced DFL candidate to replace retiring Rep. John Kline for Minnesota’s second congressional district. Minnesota holds its caucuses on March 1. Delegates selected at those caucuses will later determine who gets the party’s endorsement, which presumably would go to Craig unless another candidate quickly emerges.
If that happens and no other DFL candidate files to run in the August 9 primary, Craig would likely face one of five candidates vying for the GOP endorsement in November. Those candidates are former talk show host Jason Lewis, former state Senator John Howe, former state Representative Pam Myhra, David Gerson (who ran against Kline two years ago) and a newcomer to the race, David Benson-Staebler. Three of the candidates — Myhra, Howe and Lewis are scheduled to debate at the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute on January 21. . .
Following Mary Lawrence's withdrawal, MinnPost's Eric Black speculated in Mary Lawrence withdraws from Second District congressional race that suburban state representative Joe Atkins might consider filling the gap left by Lawrence's departure:
For the moment, Lawrence’s withdrawal is a boon for Craig, a former St. Jude Medical executive, who, if she wins the seat, would be the first openly lesbian member of Congress from Minnesota. But there is still time for another DFLer to enter the race, and Lawrence’s withdrawal will probably set off some serious thinking. Several DFL politicians have surely considered seeking the seat if Kline ever retired. But Kline didn’t announce his plans until Craig and Lawrence were already running, which led several who might have run to hesitate.
State Rep. Joe Atkins of Inver Grove Heights, for example, who has contemplated running for the seat and for several statewide offices over the years, had announced that he would not enter the congressional race this cycle. One DFL insider described Atkins as an obvious example of someone who had passed on the race when Craig and Lawrence seemed to have claimed dominance over the endorsement and primary paths, respectively, but who might be thinking hard now about taking a shot.
The list to look at would include those with a record of activism in DFL politics in the district, and perhaps especially those with strong ties to organized labor, which is seen as a possible weakness for Craig because of her work as a corporate executive.
This seems far-fetched to us, since Craig has received labor endorsements including the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the United Steelworkers and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.
Moreover, Atkins is in the crosshairs of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition over pension benefits. The Republican front group asked for the investigation that found Rep. Atkins was not eligible for PERA pension benefits he received as Independent School District 199 for his work with the Inver Grove Heights B.E.S.T. Foundation. While Atkins will receive a refund check for his contributions to PERA, the Jobs Coalition now raises questions about thousands in other benefits the Dakota County lawmaker received from the school district, blogger Michael Brodkorb reports at the Star Tribune.
It's hardily the sort of thing the DFL or a candidate wants hanging over his head in what's going to be one of the most competitive races in the country. Following the retirement of John Kline, it's an open seat.
Photo: Angie Craig (right), her wife Cheryl Greene, and their four sons play Scrabble at their home in Eagan. Photo via the campaign's Facebook page. It was a triple-word score day for the candidate who has won praise from Bluestem Prairie's sources in the district for her relentless and very well-organized campaign for the endorsement.
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