Kicking the can?Local Democratic activists gather today to anoint their pick for state Senate. But that won't be the end of it.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
Local Democratic activists gather today to anoint their pick for state Senate.
But that won't be the end of it.
Though Senate District 28 DFLers' mission is to endorse a candidate, the race will most likely continue into August. Two Democratic candidates - Red Wing's Joe Fricke and Altura's Bruce Montplaisir - have both filed to run, which automatically triggers a primary election.
Even if one candidate drops out after the endorsement process, both names will be on ballots.
The process made at least one former area legislator wonder whether there is a need for the endorsement.
"Honestly I think the smartest thing we can do is go to a primary," said former Rep. Sandy Wollschlager, DFL-Cannon Falls. "It almost feels like we should not endorse either one and let it run."
Timing of the events - and the relatively late emergence of candidates - appears to have precipitated the predicament.
Fricke announced his candidacy in early May, though party officials, who were still without any House candidates at the time, waited to hold an endorsing convention. Montplaisir didn't emerge until the filing period was under way.
The candidates are vying to run for Sen. Steve Murphy's seat. The Red Wing Democrat, who in January announced he would retire after this term, is backing Fricke.
"I would hope that we can get behind the endorsed candidate," Murphy said. "But if not, that's the way it was the first time I ran when I was the endorsed candidate."
The primary winner will face Red Wing Mayor John Howe, a Republican, in the general election.
Fricke appears to have the inside track for the endorsement, a likelihood even Montplaisir expects.
Montplaisir said he will continue campaigning regardless, predicting that he will "probably not" receive the endorsement at today's event at Red Wing Public Library - more than an hour's drive from his residence.
"It would be quite a surprise if that were to happen," Montplaisir said Thursday.
Fricke said he expects to receive the endorsement, and doesn't have firm plans if things don't go his way today. If he loses the endorsement, Fricke said he would consult with Murphy and party leaders.
"It's hard to say at this point," he said, noting that he has been campaigning extensively. "I'd feel bad just hanging it up after this."
Most districts in the state held endorsing conventions earlier in the year. Party officials generally like to decide on one candidate before the primary election, so party loyalty is not split.
State Democratic party officials said it appears Senate District 28 is the last district in the state to hold its endorsing convention.
Delegates are expected to endorse both uncontested House candidates. Plainview farmer Mark Schneider is running in House District 28B, while rural Red Wing machine operator Jerry Roth seeks to run in House District 28A.