The year 2011 brought a shocking change to baby boomers in northeastern Minnesota; it marked the first time in their lives that an outsider and a republican represented them in Congress. Indeed, the 8th district congressional seat had remained firmly in the hands of Mesabi Iron Range democrats until 2010, when republican and non-native Minnesotan Chip Cravaack unexpectedly won the seat that had been occupied by Chisholm natives John Blatnik and Jim Oberstar since 1947. The number one priority for DFL party activists in northeastern Minnesota is defeating Cravaack and returning the congressional seat to one of their own in 2012.
With this in mind, the 8th Congressional District DFL Central Committee passed a resolution Saturday that would require all DFL candidates running for Congress to answer specific questions about residency and their belief in the endorsement process.
While a non-issue in many other districts, residency is of significant importance to the voters in the 8th congressional district, particularly those on the heavily DFL Iron Range. In fact, it is the residency issue that makes Rep. Chip Cravaack (who relocated his family to New Hampshire) so very vulnerable in the upcoming election. If any of our DFL candidates has a history that would partially or completely neutralize that issue with Cravaack , we need to take that into consideration in selecting a candidate. Additionally, the DFL has the best chance of taking the seat back from Cravaack and the Tea Party if we do not need to waste time and resources fighting each other in a costly (and likely bloody) primary.
The resolution passed by the 8th District DFL Central Committee reads as follows:
Whereas the current occupant of the 8th congressional seat apparently resides outside of the current boundaries of the district,
Whereas residency and roots in the 8th district are expected to be a major issue in the upcoming congressional election,
Whereas the public record suggests that not all of the 8th congressional district DFL candidates reside in or have roots in the district,
Be it resolved that the 8th Congressional District DFL Central Committee shall send a letter to all DFL candidates for Congress requesting the following information:
1. All candidates disclose the exact addresses at which they have resided for the previous 5 years
2. All candidates disclose voter registration history for the previous 5 years. This shall include the location where they voted.
3. All candidates answer the following question “will you abide by the DFL endorsement” with either a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.
All candidates shall be requested to respond to this inquiry promptly and all responses shall be transmitted to members of the 8th Congressional District DFL Central Committee by 3 January 2012. In the event that any candidate fails to respond, that information also shall be transmitted to the 8th Congressional District DFL Central Committee by 3 January 2012.
There are currently four democrats seeking the 8th district congressional seat: Vermilion Range native and Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson, former St Cloud State Senator Tarryl Clark, Chicago native Daniel Fanning, and Cuyuna Range native and former Congressman Rick Nolan.
The candidates should embrace this opportunity to go on the record regarding these important issues, particularly those whose residency or stand on the endorsement is currently unclear to voters of the 8th congressional district. I’m sure they would all agree that providing prompt, direct answers to these direct questions is in their best interest as well as that of the party, for only when these first basic issues have been addressed can we move ahead to discussing other issues and selecting the strongest candidate to face New Hampshire Chip in 2012. Indeed, our common goal is defeating Chip Cravaack and the Tea Party; honesty and clarity from our candidates is critical to the success of that venture.
Disclosure: I am member of the 8th Congressional District DFL Central Committee