by Dave Mindeman
Let’s take a quick look at the state of play in Minnesota’s Congressional races:
District 1: This district is vulnerable to a Republican take over. The district has a Trump rural base and it is now an open seat. The Republicans will be having a tough contest as Jim Hagedorn (who came close to Walz last time) and Carla Nelson duke it out. Nelson has been showing some significant fund raising ability and she might make the convention a fight. On the Democratic side, Vicki Jensen has been a disappointment and it looks like Dan Feehan will be emerging as the front runner for the DFL nomination. Feehan is an Iraqi veteran and did some service in the Obama administration. He has not run for office before but he leads the pack in fundraising. Democrats will need one of these candidates to come out of the convention strong.
District 2: I still expect that Angie Craig will be endorsed for a second run. Jeff Erdmann has only $11,000 on hand as of January 1 and has struggled to get any major endorsements outside of Our Revolution. Meanwhile, Craig has been endorsed by most labor groups, women’s groups, and most significantly, by Andy Slavitt – the ACA expert and advocate. Jason Lewis has fully embraced the Trump agenda and has raised nearly $1 million.
District 3: Dean Philllips has emerged as the overwhelming front runner for the DFL nomination. He has wealth, but has shown some passion for Democratic issues, and has an engaging personality. It seems that he would give Erik Paulsen a good race. Of the other candidates for the DFL endorsement, only Adam Jennings has shown any ability to compete on the fund raising front, while Brian Santa Maria has some progressive issue support.
District 4: Betty McCollum, up to this point, has had little competition.
District 5: Keith Ellison seems a lock for re-election.
District 6: Tom Emmer also has had token DFL competition.
District 7: Collin Peterson has a challenge but looks to be re-elected.
District 8: This district is an open seat because Rick Nolan retired. The competition for DFL endorsement (or primary) will be hard core. Leah Phifer has been running early on and looks like she may be the leader for the endorsement. She has support from environmental groups. But her fundraising has been horrible and a number of strong challengers emerged after the Nolan retirement and will probably move directly to a primary. We do not have any fundraising numbers because they are late to organize, but I expect that Joe Radinovich, Michele Lee, and Jason Metsa to move ahead of Phifer as time goes on. Pete Stauber is the GOP candidate so far, and he does not appear to be a strong contender yet. But Ray Sandman has switched to the Independence Party and will take votes away from DFLers. To me, Joe Radinovich may emerge out of this group – he is a good campaigner and is very personable.
Overall, Minnesota will have at least 4 very competitive races in 2018. It is very possible that District 2 and 3 could switch to Democratic – while 1 and 8 could switch to Republican. The national mood will certainly play a factor. Brace yourselves – it will be a bumpy ride.