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The North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters is backing 58 DFLers and 23 Republicans in House and Senate races across the state. The union's first round of endorsements includes 14 challengers -- all DFLers.

Carpenters endorse bipartisan slate of candidates

Larry Howes (Staff photos: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

The North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters is backing 58 DFLers and 23 Republicans in House and Senate races across the state. The union’s first round of endorsements includes 14 challengers — all DFLers.

The carpenters are backing GOP Rep. Larry Howes over DFL Rep. John Persell in what’s anticipated to be one of the most closely watched races in the state. Howes, who chairs the Capital Investment Committee, previously picked up union support from the Minnesota Nurses Association and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49.

In other noteworthy contests, the union is supporting 11-term Republican Rep. Steve Smith in his primary contest against GOP-endorsed challenger Cindy Pugh. It’s also backing DFL Rep. Tom Anzelc, who’s pitted against GOP incumbent Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick.

The carpenters were influential in lobbying against the so-called “right to work” amendment, which would prohibit linking employment to union membership. The measure failed to come up for a vote in either the House or Senate, angering many GOP activists.

The union was also active in pursuing a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. The overwhelming majority of candidates it’s backing voted in favor of the stadium. Notable exceptions: House GOP leaders Kurt Zellers and Matt Dean.

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