Duluth paper endorses Republican for Rukavina seat

In the new House District 6B, the seat currently held by colorful Range political figure and retiring Rep. Tom Rukavina, the index is so strongly DFL that it seldom draws coverage in legislative politics.

The DFL candidate, blessed heartily by Rukavina, is Iron Range native and local labor organizer Jason Metsa, a young but wily veteran of Range political campaigns. The GOP candidate is a nurse and political newcomer Jesse Colangelo. In all likelihood, this race will fall easily to Metsa.

But I’m going to keep an eye on 6B because Colangelo has done well in winning over some notable support thus far, including his own union — the traditionally DFL leaning Minnesota Nurses Association. Last week he received a remarkably enthusiastic endorsement from the Duluth News Tribune and I predict that editor Bill Hanna is cooking up an epic Mesabi Daily News endorsement for Colangelo after the MDN bludgeoned Metsa before his August primary win over Lorrie Janatopoulos.

Colangelo might be green, but he is following a playbook that I’ve always considered the GOP’s best chance on the Range — unabashedly pro-union, some fairly reasonable ideas for an expanded Range economy, all while preserving the GOP base on social issues. Enough to win? Not likely this year, but if Colangelo “beats the spread” on this one we could a more competitive challenge from him in the future, provided he can handle the heat of increased scrutiny.

But if Rep. Chip Cravaack’s attempt to turn the Range GOP red with a tent revival of mining politics works, watch out here.

UPDATE: I may have spoken too soon on that MNA endorsement. I now see that Metsa is listed as the MNA-endorsed candidate. Colangelo had released a statement last month that he expected the MNA endorsement, but that apparently was in error.


  1. The Duluth News-Tribune endorsement of Colangelo should not be a surprise. Even since the Forum Corporation of Fargo purchased the DNT, its endorsement policy is pretty much run out of Fargo. (The paper’s management has openly admitted this.) The DNT will endorse a handful of safe DFL incumbents to appear non-partisan, but expect it to endorse the Republican in every race where an endorsement might actually matter.

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