Hear the House 3A DFL showdown

3A DFL candidates 2015

Tonight at 7, the four DFL candidates in the House District 3A special election will participate in a forum at Vermilion Community College. The forum will be aired live on WELY and recorded for rebroadcast on Ely TV.

The four DFL candidates are Koochiching County Commissioner Rob Ecklund, Tofte business owner Bill Hansen, International Falls business owner (and last year’s GOP nominee) Eric Johnson, and Ely City Councilor Heidi Omerza. They are running to replace late Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake), who died from cancer last month. I wrote about the race as it crystalized here.

The Cook County Chamber of Commerce held a 3A DFL forum in Grand Marais last night. WTIP aired that debate, which you can listen to here. The fact that debates were held on consecutive nights more than 100 miles away from one another illustrates the difficulty of campaigning in 3A, and also in gathering good information on what’s happening on the ground.

Another round of forums will be held after the Sept. 29 DFL primary between the DFL victor, Republican Roger Skraba, former mayor of Ely, and independent Kelsey Johnson, a lobbyist from rural St. Louis County. The general election promises its own intrigue depending on who emerges from the primary.

The only major controversy so far has been over the abrupt cancellation of the DFL convention that would have endorsed a candidate in the primary. It was becoming apparent that Hansen, a copper mining skeptic, was likely to prevail in an endorsement fight. The 3A chair unilaterally cancelled the event. Depending on who you talk to, the convention was cancelled either to allow the voters of the district to have their say in the primary or because pro-mining leaders on the Iron Range didn’t want an endorsement going to Hansen.

Nevertheless, a well-run local forum is usually a great way to contrast candidates, so voters would benefit from tuning in.

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