Julie Blaha, former math teacher and current secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, announced recently that she would run for state auditor.
That makes three DFL candidates for that job, in addition to five candidates for attorney general and an incumbent secretary of state in Steve Simon.
By contrast, Republicans have one candidate for attorney general, no auditor candidates and no secretary of state candidates.
The party’s inability to recruit candidates in these downballot races carries consequences. Without a candidate who has won a statewide race in more than a decade, the party’s ranks of top-tier challengers for the governor’s race and two U.S. Senate races next year looks thin. And, the continued inability to attract talent to run in downballot races will have ramifications in the future, as the party continues to face a shortage of politicos who have endured the long slog of a statewide contest and the name recognition that comes with it.
On the other hand: A DFL operative I talked to last week said their side should be “terrified” of Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens. The mayor of the fast-growing east metro suburb is running for governor; a smart, sensible suburban woman is the type of GOP candidate who can crack their statewide losing streak, this DFL source fears. The source cites Giuliani Stephens’ impressive showing in a GOP straw poll just two days after she announced, while acknowledging she’s completely untested on the bigger stage. This source also expressed concern that the second U.S. Senate race next year could distract DFL voters from the governor’s race.
Jim Hagedorn with a good get: David FitzSimmons is his campaign manager in the First Congressional District, as U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer continues to send talented staff to work for fellow Minnesota Republicans. Note that the most powerful and influential members of Congress develop huge family-like staff networks who are all over Washington and their home states — doing well, doing good and still fiercely loyal to the old boss. Think Ted Kennedy, Tom Daschle, Dick Cheney.