WASHINGTON - Democrats have suggested for months that GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack is just renting the eighth congressional district. Cravaack pulled off an upset win of DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar in November and Democrats in Washington D.C. and in Minnesota have both have their eyes on his seat as a possible pickup. Cravaack even admitted that he's "Number two on the DCCC's list."
One major question though is who will challenge him.
A few of the big names that have been floated are walking away from a run. Tony Sertich, the former Majority Leader of the Minnesota House, says there is "zero chance" that he'll run for the seat. Governor Dayton just appointed Sertich to run the Iron Range Resources Board. Sertich is steadfast that he won't run.
Duluth Mayor Don Ness says he isn't running.
"There are many, many reasons," Ness wrote in an e-mail to me. "Family, lifestyle, and the fact that I love being Mayor are at the top of this list."
And DFL state Sen. Tony Lourey says he isn't running for the job.
Two names have surfaced as possible candidates to challenge Cravaack in 2012. Daniel Fanning, the Deputy State Director for DFL Sen. Al Franken, says he's "certainly thinking about a run" but emphasized that he's just considering it at this point.
Fanning, who grew up in Chicago but says he's lived in Duluth for the better part of 12 years, has been active in DFL politics. He ran DFL state Sen. John Marty's campaign for governor before he took the job with Franken's office. He is also Associate Chair of the DFL Veterans Caucus.
Another name if DFL state Sen. Roger Reinert of Duluth.
"I haven't ruled it out, but I'm not actively pursuing it, Reinert told MPR's Tim Nelson. "Right now, I'm completely concerned about the Legislative session."
Reinert said he will take another look at the race in June but emphasized that the district should be represented by someone who lives in Duluth or the Iron Range.
"It's the heart of the district," Reinert said.
For his part, Cravaack isn't focused on his reelection.
"I'm not worried about reelection and the reason I'm not worried is that If I do a good job for the people of Minnesota, I'll be back in office," Cravaack said.
"I hope people look past who has an R behind their name or a D behind their name and just judge a person for the person."
One wildcard is how redistricting plays a part in Minnesota's congressional delegation. The 2010 Census requires the Legislature and Governor Dayton to come up with a new map. That means the 8th District could look dramatically different than it does right now.
Another wildcard is whether Oberstar decides to make another run at Cravaack. We'll find out later today if that's a possibility.
Roger Reinert makes the most sense, won Duluth heavily and comes off as a middle of the road DFL'er, also does his homework. Thoughts?
My thoughts on this are generally the same ones I'd apply for most races:
Let the process shake itself out, especially in the early goings.
Hold candidates to the same standards.
Be honest with yourself about why you like or dislike someone; is it actually because of their positions or records, or is it because of how they look and talk, or that they just give off a certain vibe and you'd find it personally affirming (or a personal affront) if they won?
Don't fall into the trap of thinking "My candidate is good, therefore all the others are evil."
And finally, if your candidate loses, that's not evidence, in and of itself, that "the system needs reform." If you have a case like 1968, where Hubert Humphrey was nominated for President despite nobody having voted for him in any primaries, then you'd have a solid case for reforming the process. But if your candidate willingly goes through a competitive process and loses, that just proves that your candidate didn't appeal to enough people, not that the whole system needs to be upended to deliver the outcome you wanted in an alternate universe.
I think now that Mayor Ness, and Sertich are out, Reinert is good pick, and would do well, however any thought to Duluth cit councilor Jeff Anderson? He as lived in the 8th District his whole life, has military experience and experience in legislation.
Jeff Anderson is the best bet. Raised on the range, now council president in Duluth. Military experience. Let Cravaak own the south border of the district. Anderson will crush the northland.