Anderson touts mining, commits to MN-8 DFL primary

Today former Duluth City Councilor and Ely native Jeff Anderson announced that he, too, would bypass the DFL endorsement process and run directly in the MN-8 primary. This virtually ensures that there will be a three-way DFL primary to challenge U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN8) taking place on Aug. 14.

Former State Sen. Tarryl Clark of St. Cloud already announced that she would run in the primary, citing it as the most democratic way to select a nominee. Former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan said he’d abide by the party endorsing process, and in recent weeks has run up huge leads among elected DFL delegates, all but locking down the endorsement which will be conferred by local DFLers in May. Anderson had said he was undecided, but Nolan’s success at recent county conventions gave him little choice. It was in or out, and Anderson is in.

Unlike Clark, who cited process, and Nolan, who cited the influence of money on primary elections, Anderson is citing a specific issue among his reasons for running in the primary.

I am running because Northern Minnesota deserves to have a candidate on the ballot that will stand up for job creation in our natural resources based economy, including mining, timber and tourism. We deserve to have an Iron Range and Duluth voice ready to represent us in Washington, D.C.

After more than a year of campaigning, I am convinced that anyone who strongly and unapologetically supports our 130-year history of mining and a future of good jobs for our kids cannot win the DFL party endorsement at the convention in this congressional race.

To win the DFL endorsement a candidate must be soft on the core issues that are most important to the voters of this district. Depending on the audience you are speaking to, a candidate must either be opposed to mining, specifically copper and nickel mining, or strongly support it. As a fourth generation Iron Ranger, I cannot and will not change my response on the issues depending on the audience to which I am speaking. Expanding our natural resources based economy is fundamental to creating new jobs on the Iron Range, in Duluth and across the district.The shipping industry in the Twin Ports is strong because mining on the Iron Range is strong. Our communities grow and become stronger when we create jobs in our natural resources based economy. It is all connected.

Anderson is doubling down on mining, a strategy that won’t sit well with more environmentally-conscious DFL delegates but that might strike a chord among a DFL primary electorate in Duluth and the Iron Range. The big challenge for Anderson now becomes raising enough money to get his message out. An endorsed Nolan will be competitive, as will the well-financed (if sometimes perplexing) candidacy of Tarry Clark.

It’s too early to lay odds on this race and I wouldn’t be surprised if a poll was commissioned at some point this summer. But a competitive race between Nolan and Clark with a strong dark horse “favorite son” candidacy by Anderson appears to be shaping up, with any of three three pulling ahead under different circumstances. What makes this interesting is not only that any of the three could win, but it’s easy to see any of the three collapsing, too, with a misstep or at the sword of their opponents.

But mainly this sucks the drama out of the upcoming DFL county conventions and CD8 convention. No 100-ballot fracas is in the cards this year. DFLers just better hope that someone wins the primary with some kind of mandate. Chip Cravaack and the RNCC get to save up for a three month blitz against the eventual DFL nominee.

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