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DFL candidate forces 10B primary

Former DFL lawmaker David Schaaf’s last-day filing for the House District 10B seat this week triggered a DFL primary and disappointed party leaders.

Schaaf, 73, said the timing of the DFL endorsement convention was such that he was not prepared to run at that time. He had experienced occasional rapid heart beats and was following up on outpatient procedures that successfully corrected that problem and he was finishing up a major remodeling project at his Big Sandy Lake home, 12 miles north of McGregor in Aitkin County’s Shamrock Township.

The former state senator, who had represented the Hennepin County area, said his age and experience reflect the district more than his DFL-endorsed opponent, Joe Radinovich. He said Aitkin County receives more Social Security checks per capita than any other county in Minnesota.

“Do you want someone who’s extremely young, an unmarried union organizer or somebody who’s more of the age and business experience of most people in the district?” he asked.

Radinovich, 26, Crosby, said while he appreciated Schaaf’s service in the Legislature, representing the people of Hennepin County in the 1970s, he would better represent the interests of voters in Aitkin and eastern Crow Wing County.

“It’s time to send a new crop of legislators to St. Paul who are familiar with the problems this area (is experiencing),” Radinovich said.

Aitkin County DFL Chair Bill Pick said he did not think Schaaf had been real active in the Aitkin County DFL Party.

“I guess I feel that efforts should be put into supporting the endorsed candidate,” Pick said. “It’s disappointing but he has the right.”

Crow Wing County Chair Tiffany Stenglein also expressed disappointment that Schaaf bypassed the endorsement system. She said she thought Radinovich would defeat Schaaf in the primary.

A self-described public policy nerd, Schaaf said he chaired the Senate Government Operations Committee. He also served four years on the Oak Park Heights City Council and four years as that city’s mayor. In 2011 he served for a few months as interim city administrator for East Bethel. He currently is a semi-retired real estate investor and previously was a small business owner in dry cleaning, insurance and a co-founder of Schaaf Floral in Fridley.

If elected he said he would have more experience and seniority than many of the members of the House.

“I know how to pass bills,” he said. “I know where the bathroom is.”

Schaaf compared his situation to Aitkin County Commissioner Anne Marcotte, who is also challenging a younger, DFL-endorsed candidate in the DFL primary for the Senate District 10 seat. While he said Radinovich and DFL-endorsed Senate District 10 candidate Taylor Stevenson (age 24) were wonderful people their youth and inexperience contrasted with that of the two challengers.

He said when he talked with Marcotte he said, “It looks like we’re running against the kiddie corps.”

Schaaf is calling for a 10 percent across the board cut in tax expenditures such as tax credits, deductions or depreciation of business equipment. This could create more than $1 billion in revenue in one biennium. He would use that money to repay the money the state had borrowed from the schools.

The sunsetting of all tax expenditures is another policy Schaaf is advocating, so the Legislature can review the need for each one periodically. He also wants to see a major reform of the state’s property tax system, which he said was too complicated. The Democrat said he’s concerned about air and water quality and would use common sense when reviewing rules and regulations that affect businesses.

Schaaf is a member of the McGregor Lions Club, the Big Sandy Lake Association, Shamrock Township Study Committees, McGregor Historical Society and the Aitkin DFL Club.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed 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