By Don Davis
The final day Minnesotans could file for political offices was a busy one Tuesday: A gas leak forced the secretary of state’s office to accept paperwork outside, a western Minnesota congressional candidate rushed to St. Paul to meet the deadline, a one-time Democratic governor candidate criticized his party’s state auditor when he filed to replace her, and there will be a Republican primary election race for U.S. Senate.
The Minnesota secretary of state’s office closed at exactly 5 p.m. despite the late flurry of activity. The minutes preceding that were hectic, made worse by a minor gas leak in the State Office Building, home to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s elections office.
Office workers were ousted from the building for about 40 minutes in the late afternoon. They set up a table outside to accept paperwork from candidates who were filing for office, and two candidates signed up in 73-degree temperature under sunny skies.
After the building reopened, state Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, went to the elections counter to sign paperwork and pay $300 to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in a massive western Minnesota district.
He beat the deadline by about 20 minutes, but had not planned it to be that close.
Westrom said he checked in advance with the Grant County auditor’s office, and was told he could file his paperwork there. But when the office tried to send it to the secretary of state’s office, it was rejected because congressional candidates must file in St. Paul.
“Our county never had a congressional candidate,” Westrom said.
In hindsight, he added, maybe he should have filed for office earlier to avoid the rush.
Westrom took the incident with good humor. “We will tell this story over and over.”
He also made a geographic political comment: “Rural Minnesota, it’s always a long drive.”
As Westrom was leaving, Matt Entenza stepped into the secretary of state’s office and filed paperwork to run in the primary election for state auditor against Auditor Rebecca Otto, a fellow Democrat.
He said Minnesota needs an auditor who “does more than balance the books. We need an auditor fighting to protect pensions that are under attack, who will go after corporate giveaways at the local level.” He said the auditor should “scrutinize” education spending, “focusing on why Minnesota schools have such an achievement gap.”
Entenza, who started and then aborted an attorney general campaign and four years ago lost his party’s governor nomination, said officials “must act on progressive DFL values.”
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party chairman was not happy.
“Although he was a one-time House DFL leader, Matt Entenza has a history of running in DFL primaries,” Chairman Ken Martin said. “His last-minute filing is an insult to the hard-working DFLers he has to win over.”
Also Tuesday, state Rep. Jim Abeler of Anoka kept his promise to run in the Aug. 12 primary election for U.S. Senate, even though he gained little support at last weekend’s Republican state convention.
After filing his paperwork, Abeler said the candidate who won the convention endorsement, Mike McFadden, did not receive enthusiastic support. That, he said, was proven by the 10 ballots over two days that it took Republican delegates to endorse him.
The 16-year veteran state lawmaker said he has newfound energy with more experience and qualifications than McFadden.
Several long-shot candidates also are in the Senate primary races to face incumbent Democrat Al Franken.
The Independence Party has a full slate of statewide candidates for the first time in years. Libertarian Party officials say they, too, will contest statewide races, but the secretary of state first needs to verify signatures on petitions they delivered Tuesday.
Democrats and Republicans filled most state House races, although Reps. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center; Duane Quam, R-Byron; Kim Norton, D-Rochester; Joe McDonald, R-Delano; Marion O’Neill, R-Buffalo; Kurt Daudt, R-Crown; and Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, do not have opponents. State Senators are not up for election until 2016.
The secretary of state’s office reports this list of candidates for statewide and U.S. House offices:
U.S. Senate: Mike McFadden, R; Jim Abeler, R; David Carlson, R; Patrick Munro, R; Ole Savior, R; Al Franken, D (i); Sandra Henningsgard, D; Tom Books, I; Steve Carlson, I; Jack Shepard, I; Kevin Terrell, I; Stephen Williams, I.
1st Congressional District: Jim Hagedorn, R; Aaron Miller, R; Tim Walz, D (i).
2nd Congressional District: Paula Overby, I; John Kline, R (i); Mike Obermueller, D; Michael Roberts, D.
3rd Congressional District: Erik Paulsen, R (i); Sharon Sund, D.
4th Congressional District: Dave Thomas I; Sharna Wahlgren, R; Betty McCollum, D (i).
5th Congressional District: Lee Bauer, I; Doug Daggett, R; Keith Ellison, D (i); William Brownell, D.
6th Congressional District: John Denney, I; Tom Emmer, R; Rhonda Sivarajah, R; Joe Perske, D.
7th Congressional District: Collin Peterson, D (i); Torrey Westrom, R.
8th Congressional District: Eric Meyer, I; Stewart Mills, R; Rick Nolan, D (i).
Governor-lieutenant governor: Hanna Nicollet-Tim Gieseke, I; Scott Honour-Karin Housley, R; Jeff Johnson-Bill Kuisle, R; Marty Seifert-Pam Myhra, R; Kurt Zellers-Dean Simpson, R; Merrill Anderson-Mark Anderson, R; Bill Dahn-James Vigliotti, D; Leslie Davis-Gregory Soderberg, D; Mark Dayton-Tina Smith, D (i).
Secretary of state: Bob Helland, I; David Singleton, I; Dan Severson, R; Gregg Iverson, D; Steve Simon, D; Dick Franson, D.
State auditor: Patrick Dean, I; Randy Gilbert, R; Rebecca Otto, D (i); Matt Entenza, D.
Attorney general: Brandan Borgos, I; Sharon Anderson, R; Scott Newman, R; Lori Swanson, D (i).
Supreme Court 2: John Hancock, Wilhelmina Wright (i).
Supreme Court 3: David Lillehaug (i), Michelle MacDonald.
Appeals Court 1: John Rodenberg (i).
Appeals Court 3: Carol Hooten (i).
Appeals Court 4: John P. Smith (i).
Appeals Court 9: Michael Kirk (i).
Appeals Court 10: Edward Cleary (i).
Appeals Court 12: Margaret Chutich (i).
Races with more than one candidate in a party will be involved in an Aug. 12 primary election unless candidates withdraw by Thursday. Candidates who have announced their intent to withdraw are not listed. The secretary of state’s office also does not list candidates who filed by petition until signatures are verified, probably later this week.
Key: R, Republican; D, Democrat; I, Independence; (i), incumbent.