Mesabi Daily News shakes up 6B race with closing editorial

I wrote about the House 6B primary field last Friday, but the anchor leg of that race has some interesting fodder from the Mesabi Daily News. In this case, the MDN is the primary newspaper of the entire district and it’s well read. No election on the Iron Range, particularly the eastern Range, can escape its influence.

Editor Bill Hanna is a classic old school editorialist, evocative of early 20th century Range printer barons. I respect his verve, even when his words infuriate me. Anyway, he gets the final commentary that most 6B voters will see before voting.

We have not enjoyed the tone of [Jason] Metsa’s campaign at times, which has often reflected the “good ol’ boys” network that is evident by the many supporters who are part of the DFL Party machine on the Range. That machine can too often be smug, rude, even personally nasty and at times retaliatory. It is definitely deserving of a political wrench tossed into its gears by voters either in the primary or general election. …

… Metsa has said he will be his own man in the Legislature should he win. We certainly hope that would be true. However, the tenor of the campaign and its distinct link to the party “machine” and its tactics certainly creates understandable doubt.

The MDN defended Lorrie Janatopoulos for what it calls unfair treatment upon the beginning of the campaign. It does not endorse her; rather offering concern that for her strong resume and personal triumphs, she depends too much on government solutions to problems, a theme in the paper’s editorial philosophy of late.

She is a community activist and organizer — and a good one. She has taken a leave of absence from her job as planning director at the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency to run for the House 6B seat.

Janatopoulos has a good life story of overcoming some personal hardships. As she said at a candidates’ forum last Wednesday, she knows what it’s like to be down but not out; to need a hand up to a bridge to a better life, but not handouts for a lifetime.

So she knows all too well the importance of government in providing a safety net for those who are truly in need. And that should definitely be part of government’s mission.

But if a legislator’s philosophy revolves completely around government being the beginning and end of all issues; being the answer to all concerns; being the catalyst for spending out of control — well, then government becomes far too expansive, too expensive and too unrestricted.

Nevertheless, the editorial offer more kindness to Janatopoulos than it did to Metsa.

The MDN reserved mostly praise for the GOP candidates Jesse Colangelo and Dan Darbo, primarily that they are both articulate, qualified candidates on the Republican even as the district has been less competitive for Republicans in the past. It’s clear that the MDN believes their ascent is good for the region.

All the candidates in all the parties are 100 percent for nonferrous mineral mining in northeastern Minnesota. The MDN likes that; also offering inoculation against any attempts by one campaign to “out-mine” the others.

I’ll say one thing. Bill sure took all the whispers in this campaign and put them out there for people to hear. I encourage you to read it.

UPDATE: MPR’s Dan Kraker has a story on the air today about this race. I offer some color commentary in this one. The point I was making in the story is not that any of the candidates are against mining, just that in the minds of some, there is a shadow primary based on the kind of rhetoric you’re willing to use regarding mining. A similar dynamic has formed in the MN-8 race.

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