Three of the Congressional endorsing conventions happened yesterday. In the snowstorm. And let me just commend the dedicated DFLers who managed to get there under difficult circumstances. There is definitely a strong motivation with Democrats this year. We are woke…as they say.
CD2 endorsed Angie Craig on the first ballot yesterday. Jeff Erdmann ran strong for a first time candidate, but Angie Craig upped her game as well and has built a pretty formidable organization. I believe she will do well against Jason Lewis with a great chance to flip this district.
CD3 endorsed Dean Phillips. He has been building a strong campaign as well and it showed at the convention with a quick endorsement. Phillips lacks campaign experience, but he has been a quick study. And CD3 Democrats have shown extraordinary motivation to oust Paulsen this time around. This will be a tough race because Paulsen is a bit slippery in how he presents his views. He can be a moderate one minute and a Trumper the next. A political eel. Phillips has an opportunity – we shall see how he approaches it.
The 8th District had 10 ballots and no candidate came close to the 60% threshold. Leah Phifer led on every ballot but could barely break 50% at her highest point. As candidates were forced out, most of the freed delegates gravitated to Joe Radinovich. There was also a dramatic moment when the Latino caucus got a suspension of the rules to speak along with the candidates; and they denounced endorsement of Phifer because of her former career as an ICE agent. She tried to give an explanation of what she did as an agent, but in the end, the needle did not move.
Phifer wanted and needed the convention endorsement more than Radinovich did. His late entry, along with Jason Metsa, stalled any momentum that Phifer had been building pre-convention. Now it looks like all the candidates will regroup for a primary contest. Phifer will enter that with a disadvantage…. with weak fundraising to this point and now no access to DFL lists and support.
Although a primary free for all may look divisive, the late retirement of Rick Nolan made choosing a successor a little more complicated. It will be expensive to win, but I believe the candidate that wins will be on stronger footing heading into the general election. A healthy debate will be needed to sort out a number of conflicting issues that the 8th District presents.
The last district with a contest (District 1) will convene next Saturday and hopefully a strong candidate will emerge from there as well.
Minnesota plays a big role in taking back the US House. I think that Democrats are moving into position – now we need some strong campaigns to finish the job.