Attack mailings start hitting districts with less than a month left before Election Day
Political action committees and legislative caucuses have already done mailings assailing the opposition. But now that the campaign has entered the final month, the rough-and-tumble race for the Legislature is kicking into high gear.
“The final act is underway when you start seeing independent expenditure lit pieces regularly. And they have,” said Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, who has been integrally involved in his caucuses’ campaign effort as the House DFL campaign treasurer.
The House Republican Caucus is getting ready to start spending in earnest on the districts it’s targeting. The HRCC plans to run television ads on cable networks in some suburban districts. HRCC director Ian Marsh and officials from other caucuses said they can buy television ads that are narrowly targeted for legislative districts through advertising in well-defined zones on cable.
“It’ll be a significant investment in the airwaves,” Marsh said.
Spending on legislative races in greater Minnesota is more commonly done on the radio, according to a couple of political pros. The broad coverage offered by network channels and dish make the rural areas more difficult to target by district.
DFLers have been active in spending on competitive seats held by the party’s incumbents. Republican challenger Carla Nelson in Rochester’s Senate District 30 is protesting a mailer this week that accuses her of voting to cut education during her previous tenure in the House. In response to the attack ad, Nelson told the Rochester Post Bulletin that the lit piece is misleading.
Other Republican Senate candidates challenging DFL incumbents in swing districts have also recently seen attack pieces hit the mail boxes. Among those targeted: Dave Brown, who is running against Sen. Lisa Fobbe in District 16; Ted Daley who is challenging Sen. Jim Carlson in District 38; and Sean Nienow, who is running against Sen. Rick Olseen in District 17.
Not all the mailings are negative. E-mails touting House DFL candidates went out to potential voters this week.
And not all political marketing has been done in print or online. Republican interests have attacked DFLers from the roadside in addition to the mailbox this fall. The Freedom Club PAC has billboards criticizing incumbent DFLers’ voting records. Freedom Club spent $3,800 on a billboard on Interstate 35 that targets Rep. Kory Kath, DFL-Owatonna, for voting in favor of a project that was contained in the bonding bill.
An attempt to contact Freedom Club chairman Cush Minar was unsuccessful.
DFLers hold large majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. Observers expect Democrats to primarily pursue an incumbent-protection strategy. Republicans stand to take back seats in GOP-leaning areas that DFLers have picked off by narrow margins in recent election cycles.
Senate Republicans are planning mailings in the next couple days, said Senate campaign chief Ben Golnik. “We’re going to need to lay out the case for why we need to unseat incumbents and that means talking about voting records,” Golnik said.
While political action committees and parties will spend their money on legislative races, the League of Women Voters (LMV) is concentrating its efforts on organizing debates between legislative candidates.
In recent days, LMV has held a debate in the contested District 41A race in Edina between Republican Rep. Keith Downey and DFL challenger Kevin Staunton.
Next week features more debates in competitive legislative races. On Tuesday, LMV is holding a candidate forum in the District 56 races in the eastern St. Paul suburbs. The district’s three legislative seats were taken in 2006 from the GOP. The Republicans this year have fielded quality candidates to make a serious run at regaining the seats.
On Wednesday LMV is holding candidate forums in Senate District 28, a bellwether region that includes Red Wing. The district is viewed as another takeover opportunity for the GOP, with Red Wing Mayor John Howe, a Republican, running to replace DFL Sen. Steve Murphy, who is retiring. The forum will also feature House District 28A, where Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, is making his first re-election bid after beating DFL Rep. Sandy Wollschlager by a slim margin in 2008.
Thursday will feature a debate between Sen. Ann Lynch, DFL-Rochester, and her opponent, former GOP Rep. Carla Nelson.
Mick McGuire’s bid to win the open House seat in District 25A will get some high-level fundraising attention next Thursday.
House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and House Majority Leader Tony Sertich are hosting a fundraiser for the Montgomery mayor who is vying for the seat that’s currently held by Rep. Laura Brod, R-New Prague, who is retiring. The seat is one of the few that DFLers have set their sights on to take from the Republicans this year.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman are also on the bill for the McGuire fundraiser at the View Restaurant and Bar on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis.