Luger and the Republicans


With all the partisan races this election season, it’s weirdly fascinating to watch what happens in one in which there are two DFLers running against one another for an office whose constituency spans the political spectrum.

Tomorrow, Hennepin County attorney candidate Andy Luger will call a press conference in which he will introduce a number local Republicans who are supporting his campaign. Among those scheduled to appear with the DFL endorsee are former Hennepin County attorney Gary Flakne, former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger, and Hennepin County Commissioner (and state GOP vice-chair) Penny Steele.

Other noteworthy GOPers supporting Luger are former Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, longtime party activist and former gubernatorial candidate Wheelock Whitney, broadcasting mogul Stanley Hubbard, and TCF executive and former state GOP Party chair Bill Cooper.

Now, Luger is your basic progressive DFLer, a guy who has navigated his way masterfully through the party process during the past 18 months and seems poised to neutralize Mike Freeman’s name recognition in the November election. What persuaded him to recruit some of the state’s most notable conservatives (Boschwitz and Whitney) and notorious right-wingers (Hubbard and Cooper) for his cause?

To hear Luger’s campaign manager, Gia Vitali, tell it, the candidate didn’t really seek them out. “Andy’s hard work has paid off,” she said, in her best non-partisan voice.

Vitali elaborated, noting that some of the Republicans sought Luger out during his many campaign stops over the past months, and Luger made overtures to others. But, given his progressive credentials, is there concerns that someone like Cooper will drive DFLers away?

Not really, Vitali said. “Public safety is not a partisan issue. It’s pretty remarkable that Democrats and Republicans can agree on something.”

Maybe so, but in a year when the two major parties are at each other’s throats, it’s worth wondering what effect such endorsements will have on Luger’s base—and among DFL Party insiders.