Clark wins Steelworkers nod, Anderson talks hunting in MN-8

Two items of news from the growing din of the 2012 MN-8 race.

First, Former St. Cloud-area State. Sen. Tarryl Clark received the backing of the Steelworkers yesterday. The Steelworkers represent Iron Range miners and some medical workers in the region. This is big news, as the Steelworkers are among the top organizers in DFL politics in this traditionally labor-oriented district. The endorsement is not particularly surprising given that Clark has spent the last year working for the Blue-Green Alliance, of which the Steelworkers are a major partner.

The Steelworkers represent the first major constituency to line up with Clark, as the other three candidates have already been racking up various endorsements. Clark has previously been playing up her strength in fundraising, having outraised both her DFL opponents and incumbent Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN8) in the last quarter.

Normally the Steelworkers can swing 5-10 percentage points in a Range primary and it will be interesting to see if they can do so for Clark, who has faced criticism for her decision to move into the district for this run.

The only other candidate who can tout a labor endorsement is Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson, who won the backing of the firefighters a month ago. Yesterday, Anderson released a well-produced campaign video commemorating the rifle deer hunting season, which also not-so-subtly points out Anderson’s Iron Range and Duluth bonafieds and his blue-collar roots.

The video is good, but there are more messages buried within. The film was produced by Victor Rukavina, an Iron Range native filmmaker and son of the well-known Range lawmaker Tom Rukavina. Victor had produced some astounding work for his dad’s 2010 campaign for governor. Next week, Rukavina the elder, other members of his family and a cavalcade of Iron Range politicos, including IRRRB Commissioner and former House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, are hosting a fundraiser for Anderson at Tom and Jerry’s, still the epicenter of Range DFL politics.

This suggests that while Clark scored a major organizational coup, the Iron Range DFL is still very much in play for what appears to be a likely DFL primary.

Former Congressman Rick Nolan of Crosby and former Senate staffer Daniel Fanning are also seeking the MN-8 DFL nomination. Both of them have also announced endorsements from the Range.

CORRECTION: I incorrectly listed Tony Sertich as an Anderson event co-host. It is his parents, Joe and Nancy, who are among the co-hosts. Tony, like me, remains unaffiliated in this matter. 


  1. I still have trouble believing the DFL will hand Cravaack a huge gift by nominating Clark. But stranger things have happened…

  2. As a conservative, the candidate I fear the most is Nolan. Cravaack won by a huge margin in the Brainerd area in 2010 and I think Nolan would cut into that lead in a big way. While I still need to learn more about him, I think he’s the type of politician who’d do very well on the Iron Range. Duluth is going to go heavy for whoever the DFL candidate is anyway and the southern portion of the district will go heavy for Cravaack regardless of the DFL nominee.

    I personally don’t think Clark moving to the district to run will be all that big of a deal in the end. Even in 2010, while Oberstar not spending much time here was given a lot of sound bytes, I doubt it made much of a difference in the end.

    Of the four candidates, I see Nolan as the most dangerous for Cravaack, with Clark second, and Anderson or Fanning almost guaranteeing Cravaack a second term. It’s still very early though. And we still don’t know if Cravaack will even be in the 8th district when the district lines are drawn by the courts.

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