In 6B primary, Metsa followed a winning playbook

Here’s another Chris Saunders graphic showing the DFL primary results in the Minnesota State House District 6B primary last Tuesday.

The results went like this:

JASON METSA, 3396, 53.96%
DAVE MEYER, 307, 4.88%

You can see Lorrie Janatopoulos had support in the southern townships, while Jason Metsa carried the Range cities. Lorrie’s showing in the cities was presentable. She won Mt. Iron by one vote, but lost Virginia Eveleth and Gilbert by statistically significant amounts. The townships just didn’t add up to enough to help her. DFLer Dave Meyer was a non-factor, only drawing more than 10 percent near his hometown of Aurora.

There is a strong correlation between Jeff Anderson support in the MN-8 DFL primary and Metsa support in 6B. Janatopoulos, who backed Tarryl Clark early in the campaign, did well where Clark did well. 

Before the primary it seemed that Metsa was cutting the same profile and assembling the same coalitions that Carly Melin and Tony Sertich had done before him in the adjacent Range district.

Here was Melin’s showing in the 2011 special election in the old 5B (now 6A):

JOHN J. SPANISH, 95, 2.38
CARLY MELIN, 2005, 50.14

And Tony Sertich, Melin’s predecessor, in 2000:

SHARI SWANSON, 2264, 29.14
JON KROG, 468 6.02,
RENEE K. TOMATZ, 388, 4.99
JOHN J. SPANISH, 306, 3.94

You can see from these results that Sertich and Melin had a much more divided primary field to deal with. In that regard, Metsa did better by scoring 54 percent instead of 50. But Janatopoulos garnered more support than any Range DFL challenger running against the insider-backed candidate. (There was no DFL endorsement in 6B, but Rep. Tom Rukavina and other DFL leaders were backing Metsa).

Metsa found the winning formula with the same argument that propelled Sertich and Melin. By electing a young leader with labor backing and close relations with the previous generation, the Range has a better chance to earn seniority and turn the party over to a new generation. That’s the argument. Now the argument enters practice.

On the GOP side, Jesse Colangelo cruised to a relatively easy victory. Colangelo will be an interesting test for Metsa. On paper, Metsa is favored heavily. But the Mesabi Daily News, which really owns the information flow in that district, will be dogging him hard. Colangelo is an inexperienced candidate, but has shown potential at public forums as a Cravaack-style Iron Range Republican.

In all likelihood, however, the next pair of House reps from District 6 will be these folks:

If Colangelo pulls off the upset, he’s of a similar age to Metsa (though he’d be holding a Cravaack sign). Nevertheless, it’s a much different picture than the stereotype of jowly old Iron Range barstool politicians. Now let’s see what they do.

Stray observations: Melin’s election was a special, so the turnout was lowest there. But check out the turnout difference between the regular 6B primary in 2012 and the old 5B primary in 2000. Ask Jim Oberstar what those votes — lost to death, migration and Republicans — meant to him in 2010.

Also, it bears mentioning that Metsa ran Melin’s successful 2011 campaign, so the playbook was more than borrowed. It was very familiar to him. 

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