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Dahlberg brings campaign to Brainerd

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Chris Dahlberg told Brainerd area Republicans Monday he was a staunch conservative who could appeal to Democrats and Republicans in the bid to unseat Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

Fourteen people turned out during sub-zero temperatures Monday night at the Duluth attorney’s campaign event at the Sawmill Inn in Brainerd. He was accompanied by his driver and his 9-year-old daughter, Maija, who read a Harry Potter book during the discussion.

Pointing to his electoral success in the largely Democratic city of Duluth, the chair of the St. Louis County Board said he could work across the aisle and reach compromise without abandoning his principles which favor limited government, opposition to an over-regulated environment, bringing home many decisions to the local level. People understand that things are going in the wrong direction, he said.

“I’m for very, very limited government, but I’m not for no government,” he said.

While he said Franken is a decent person, Dahlberg contended the first-term senator is focusing on the wrong priorities and is not “the right person” for the U.S. Senate.

Dahlberg complained that the U.S. is developing a “basement boomer” generation of young people who are living with their parents because they can’t afford to move out.

“The jobs just are not there,” he said.

Too much government regulation, particularly in environmental areas, was cited by Dahlberg as the cause of some of the economy’s problems. He said it’s taking longer to obtain the necessary permits for a mining operation in northern Minnesota than it did for the U.S. to put a man on the moon. After the meeting he told a reporter he thought mining companies would have no problem providing assurances that actions would be taken to prevent pollution, they just needed to know what the requirements were.

A self-described “fourth generation Finlander-Swede,” Dahlberg said he believes in securing the nation’s borders with a fence but he parts company with conservatives who maintain that the U.S. should force the 11 or 12 million illegal immigrants to return to their countries before they can apply for citizenship.

“The reality is, it’s just not feasible,” he said.

In answer to a question from his audience, he said he agreed with term limits in principle. He later told a reporter that he would probably vote in favor of a term limit measure but would not advance a term limit proposal with specific limit.

An Iraq war veteran, Dahlberg is one six Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls. The others include Monti Moreno, Mike McFadden, Harold Shudlick, Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, and Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka.

“The Republican Party has a real problem selecting candidates,” he said. “We put forward country club Republicans. I’m not a country club Republican.”

He said there not enough Republicans in the state to win an election by winning only those votes.

“The key is how do we get the Reagan Democrats to vote for us,” he said.

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