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DFL chair visits Brainerd

DFL chair hopes 8th

District primary will be civil

Anxious to bring a longtime Democratic congressional seat back into the fold, Minnesota State DFL chair Ken Martin said this week there will likely will be a primary clash in the 8th District but he hopes the tone will be constructive.

“A primary doesn’t have to be a bad thing,” he said.

Rick Nolan, a Brainerd native and rural Crosby resident, is likely to be the endorsed candidate, Martin said, since Nolan is the only candidate who has pledged to abide by the endorsement.

Primary challenges are expected from former state Sen. Tarryl Clark and Duluth City Council member Jeff Anderson.

It’s important, Martin said, that DFLers don’t lose focus on the goal of winning the general election in November.

Martin and DFL Party Communications Director Kate Monson met DFLers at the Sunshine Kitchen in northeast Brainerd Wednesday before heading to interview sessions with the Aitkin Age in Aitkin and the Mesabi Daily News in Virginia, followed by a dinner with Hibbing DFLers.

Martin, a resident of Eagan, said the 8th District seat, held by the Democrats from shortly after World War II until Chip Cravaack’s surprise victory against incumbent Jim Oberstar in 2010, is considered by national party officials to be the “most Democratic” seat in Republican hands, Martin said. That ranking is based on a Democratic performance index, the party uses.

Despite its reputation, Martin said the 8th District has not been as strongly Democratic in recent years as it has been in the past.

“It’s changed,” he said of the northeastern Minnesota district. “It’s not going to be a slam dunk.

He described Cravaack as a voracious campaigner and stated that Republican money would be used to keep him in the seat.

Martin, who said the party will do everything it can to help Nolan win the primary (assuming he is the endorsed candidate), has asked 8th District congressional candidates to focus on their Republican opponent.

The DFL 8th District endorsing convention is May 5 in the Duluth area.

The DFL Party head is also hopeful his party can regain majorities in the state House and Senate, noting there was a significant drop-off of Democratic voters in the non-presidential election year of 2010.

He criticized Republicans for focusing on issues such as the constitutional amendments for voter identification and the ban on gay marriages instead of jobs and bonding bills.

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

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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