Lawyer, activist joins DFL Senate fieldby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
Jim Cohen, a lawyer and environmental activist from Minneapolis, is the latest DFL candidate who says he wants wants a chance to challenge Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., in 2008.
St. Paul, Minn. — During a 40-year career in public service, Jim Cohen has led national environmental organizations and worked for the Federal Trade Commission as a consumer advocate. He also made an unsuccessful bid for Congress 21 years ago in Connecticut. Cohen describes himself as a "pragmatic progressive," who wants to work across party lines to build coalitions.
"I don't believe that we need to engage in this totally super-partisan politics, this slash-and-burn, no-holds-barred kind of practice that's routinely taken on and practiced in Washington these days by Republicans, and yes, by too many Democrats as well," he says.
Cohen faces some tough competition in his bid for the DFL Party endorsement. Comedian Al Franken and attorney Mike Ciresi already enjoy high name recognition and are leading the pack in fundraising. Attorney Bob Olson and perennial candidate Dick Franson are also in the race. But Cohen says he offers a different approach and a wider appeal.
"All of the candidates are strong, are good, are interested in serving this state," he says. "But I just want to have the opportunity to be looked at on an even playing field. I do not have the kind of resources at this stage that the other candidates have. "
Cohen's priorities include affordable health care, stronger environmental protection, enhanced workers' rights and a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. He says he will support whoever wins the DFL endorsement and not run in a primary.
GOP officials say they're pleased to see that more Democrats will be fighting among themselves for the party endorsement.
State Republican Party spokesman Mark Drake says the candidacy of Jim Cohen sends a clear message.
"I don't know a lot about Mr. Cohen, but I think his entry into the crowded DFL field here signals dissatisfaction with Mike Ciresi and with Al Franken," Drake says. "I don't think Democrats are sold on either one of those guys. I think they have real weaknesses and real liabilities and I think that's why you're seeing the field grow here. "
DFL Executive Director Andrew O'Leary disagreed with Drake's assessment. O'Leary says the growing field shows dissatisfaction with Sen. Coleman, not other Democrats. He says he's looking forward to a vigorous debate among the candidates. Delegates will endorse a Senate candidate next June at the state DFL convention in Rochester.