Senate race gets crowdedby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
A total of 18 candidates are seeking the seat currently held by Republican Norm Coleman. Half of those candidates filed Tuesday, on the last day to enter the race. Six DFL candidates are running and seven members of the Independence Party are vying for the chance to get on the November ballot.
St. Paul, Minn. — Former Gov. Jesse Ventura kept his word and didn't enter the Senate race. Democrat Mike Ciresi also stuck by his decision to drop out of the race and not challenge Al Franken in a primary. Franken, however, will face a September 9th primary challenge.
Most notably from Priscilla Lord Faris, a lawyer who is the daughter of former federal Judge Miles Lord.
"I want to make sure that we unseat Norm Coleman, and that's really the goal," she said.
Flanked by family members as she filed her official paperwork, Faris said she became concerned about Franken's standing in the polls.
"I'm concerned about the issues that have already risen over the past couple of months," she said. "I'm concerned that the work that he's done as a comedian may come back to bite him."
Faris said she intends to campaign full time and intends to beat Franken in the primary.
Franken campaign spokesman Andy Barr said the campaign is not surprised that Franken faces a primary challenge. But he said Franken is focused on the general election.
"We're getting close to the election now and our focus is on laying out the very clear contrast between Norm Coleman's plans to stay the course on the economy and Iraq and on our energy policy and Al Franken's desire to take our country in a new direction," he said.
Chisholm resident Alve Erickson and South St. Paul resident Bob Larson also filed as Democrats. MPR News could not reach them for a comment. Perennial candidates Dick Franson and Ole Savior are also running in the DFL primary. Robert Fitzgerald, who ran for the Senate as an Independence Party member in 2006, filed as a DFLer this year.
But even though Fitzgerald has changed parties, there's no shortage of Independence Party members in the Senate race.
A total of seven will compete in the September primary.
Dean Barkley, whom Gov. Ventura appointed to the Senate after Paul Wellstone's death in 2002, is running. Ventura is chairing Barkley's campaign. Barkley said voters who want change in Washington have to elect someone who isn't a member of the Democratic or Republican Party.
"I think that's what is wrong with Congress," he said. "We have conservative Republicans yelling at liberal Democrats yelling and nothing gets done. It's like Rome is burning while they play the fiddle."
A few weeks ago Barkley said that he would not run for the Senate because he got a new job. But he said Tuesday he was let go from that position last week.
Former Independence Party Chair Jack Uldrich also filed as an IP candidate. He said his campaign will focus on the future - which means reducing the national debt and looking at advances in science.
"For the past few years I have been thinking deeply about the future, and I understand where fields like genomics, biotechnology, stem cell research, nanotechnology, energy, are all taking this country," he said. "And that's what I intend to talk about."
Doug Williams of Chaska, Minneapolis native Kurt Michael Anderson, Darryl Stanton of Eden Prairie, St. Paul resident Bill Dahn and Stephen Williams of Austin also filed as IP candidates.
GOP incumbent Norm Coleman may have the safest path to the November election. Coleman is facing a primary challenge from perennial candidate Jack Shepard who currently lives in Italy.
There's been a warrant out for Shepard's arrest since 1982 when he skipped a court appearance on a first degree arson charge.
Coleman filed for office earlier this week and said he was the candidate who was best equipped to help Minnesotans struggling in the current economy.
"They're worried about being able to afford to fill up their tank in their car to go up north or to work," he said. "They're worried about keeping a roof over their head. They're worried about the cost of health care. They're worried about security in a difficult world. This is the time that you need leadership that hase the demonstrated capacity, the demonstrated leadership of bringing people to get things done."
Two candidates from minor parties also filed. Charles Aldrich is the Libertarian Party candidate and James Niemackl is the Constitution Party candidate.
The Green Party will not have a candidate on the ballot this year.
- Morning Edition, 07/16/2008, 7:20 a.m.