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.
- Member for
- 4 years 3 months
BAXTER - Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden on Monday thanked volunteers and promised a victory Monday to the GOP faithful at the Republican victory office in Baxter. "I'm going to win eight days from now," McFadden said. "I'm going to beat Al Franken. That's a promise." The business man and first-time candidate said getting Republicans to the polls and attracting independent voters into the fold would be a recipe for victory on Nov. 4. He said Republicans plan to make 1.5 million phone calls this week.
Helping his constituents, whether it's struggling college students or people fighting the bureaucracy, is the favorite part of Rep. John Ward's job as a lawmaker. The Baxter DFLer, a veteran of eight years at the state Capitol, is seeking his fifth term in a contest against political newcomer Republican Josh Heintzeman of Nisswa. He said his office is approached daily by people with "big-time" problems, many of which are heartwrenching.
Josh Heintzeman said 2012 was a good year for his business - Up Country Log - but profits plunged in 2013 after the DFL-led Legislature passed $2.4 billion in tax increases. In 2013 it was hard to make ends meet and Heintzeman said he had to borrow money to make his mortgage payments for a couple of months. "I had a really hard year. Those taxes ... My business was really hurt.
AITKIN - Don't tell Dale Lueck that oil can't be safely moved through a pipeline across northern Minnesota. He says the preferred route of Enbridge Inc.'s Sandpiper pipeline is "absolutely" the best route and objections to that route amount to an invitation to a rail catastrophe. "It's extreme environmentalist mumbo-jumbo," he said of opposition to the northern route by critics who are pandering to extremists. Lueck was interviewed earlier this month in the Republican Party office in downtown Aitkin. The Republican lost the House District 10B seat to Rep.
CROSBY - Outstate legislators aren't as numerous at the state Capitol as they once were and Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, said the urban/rural lawmaker relationship is one that involves give and take. Sipping a cup of coffee at Mixed Company in downtown Crosby earlier this month, he compared the balancing act to his own relationship with a younger brother during their teen years.
Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, and Nisswa Republican Josh Heintzeman offered contrasting answers on topics such as the minimum wage and MNsure at Wednesday's League of Women Voters' candidate forum at the Brainerd Police Department. Admitting there were problems with the rollout of MNsure, Ward, 64, an eight-year veteran of the Legislature, said Minnesota continues to have some of the lowest rates in the nation.
In a rematch of their 2012 race, Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Baxter, and Republican Dale Lueck offered their views on state issues Wednesday at the League of Women Voters of the Brainerd Lakes candidate forum at the Brainerd Police station. Both men are running for the House 10B seat. One topic on which they disagreed, the gay marriage law that was signed into law recently, was never mentioned by name but appeared to be on their minds.
Ray "Skip" Sandman isn't out to be a spoiler. The Green Party candidate wants to win a close 8th Congressional District race and also tell people the truth. In his only other bid for office, Sandman finished third (with 14 percent of the vote) in a 2013 contest for a Duluth City Council seat. After that race Green Party officials asked if he'd consider running representing their party in the 8th District race. "My goal is to get elected," he said in a campaign stop in Brainerd recently.
BAXTER - Stewart Mills has seen the opposition ads with repeated film clips of him brushing back his hair and can easily joke about them, but he doesn't think they're effective. Friends at the Brainerd Family YMCA tease him and ask why they haven't been invited out on the yacht that's portrayed as the candidate's own in TV ads. The advertisements, he said, have degenerated into bullying and name calling.
Politics may be a passion of Rep. Rick Nolan's, but he says it doesn't define him. The incumbent 8th District Democratic congressman said the advertisement-induced portrait of him as a career politician is a misperception that ignores his 32 years in U.S. and international business and his community service. "I'm not a life-long politician," Nolan said earlier this month at his Brainerd campaign office. "I built my own business.