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Ward, Radinovich endorsed for Legislature

Minnesota Senate District 10’s two incumbent DFL representatives were unanimously endorsed Saturday as they praised the legislative accomplishments of their majority party and warned the party faithful of a challenging election year in 2014.

Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, and Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, told the 48 delegates they would need their help if they were going to return to St. Paul and work for them.

“I will work my tail off for you,” Ward said. “We’ve got a tough road ahead of us in this off-year election.”

Radinovich predicted that about a half-million dollars would be spent in his race, due in part to his victory in 2012 by only 300-some votes.

“We’re going to be big targets,” Radinovich said.

Ward was endorsed first as Democrats gathered at Crosby-Ironton High School. The retired teacher is seeking his fifth term in the Legislature in hopes of serving his ninth and 10th year at the Capitol.

The results of the 2013 legislative session were productive, he said, noting it was the first time in many years there were DFL majorities in the House and Senate and a DFL governor. Ward said he received thank-yous from educators, environmental activists and individual taxpayers. The 2013 Legislature, he said, balanced the budget in a fair and equitable manner. This year, he said the Legislature has already passed an emergency funding bill to help with those who struggled with escalating propane bills and approved $443 million in middle class and business tax cuts for more than one million Minnesotans. He pointed to a supplemental budget that was passed that provided a wage increase for those who care for seniors. The Legislature, he said also passed a bill to help close the disparity and income gap between male and female workers. Ward expressed his hope that a bonding bill would also be passed this year.

He noted a newspaper article that quoted House Majority Leader Erin Murphy as saying that DFLers have focused on outstate Minnesota because that region has not recovered from the recession as well as the Twin Cities.

“They recognize that because they’ve got Joe Radinovich and John Ward pounding on their doors every dang day,” Ward said.

Radinovich, serving in his first term, said Democrats have turned back the page on a decade of disengagement in which schools and infrastructure suffered and state leaders were unable to think strategically as they were moving from one deficit crisis to the next one.

He said his opponent would try to impugn his values and would note the clear differences between them. Former Aitkin County Commissioner Dale Lueck was endorsed for the House District 10B seat about two weeks ago.

Radinovich said those differences included his legislative accomplishments which included being chief author of the emergency propane bill, the rural equity funding bills for school funding and unemployment insurance business tax cuts bill, which he said resulted in one of the largest tax cuts in state history.

Ward does not yet have an announced opponent in his race. House District 10A Republicans said they would delay their endorsing convention until a later date, even though their counterparts in House District 10B gave the nod to Lueck last month.

Responding to questions from delegates on the proposed increase in minimum wage bill at the end of the convention, the lawmakers said that even if an inflation index is attached to a minimum wage bill the there would be cap and the index would only raise the wage by $2.25 in a 10-year period.

“I think there’s going to be a minimum wage increase by the end of the session,” Ward predicted.

Radinovich agreed with Ward.

“I’m confident there will be a compromise position,” Radinovich said.

The DFLers also heard from Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., by phone, who told Democrats it would be a tough election year.

“We’re going to have our hands full,” Nolan said.

The DFL endorsing convention for the 8th Congressional District seat is the weekend of May 3-4.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or Follow on Twitter at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860