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“If you look at the Republicans in the state Legislature over the last 10 or 15 years, they have done nothing to support the Iron Range,” Martin said. “This is political opportunism at its best. When you strip this away, it’s about trying to gain an advantage for the election coming up.”
Elected Democrats must navigate tricky political terrain on the issue.
Dayton gently addressed the simmering furor in his convention speech, talking at length about the need for jobs. But he added, “We’re going to make Minnesota the best place to breathe the air, to drink the water, and to catch fish in it.”
Freshman state Rep. Jason Metsa, DFL-Virginia, said both sides had “heartburn” about the platform measure as they girded for a fight.
“Why come here and talk about the things that divide us when we should be here talking about the things that we have accomplished,” said Metsa, a strong supporter of the PolyMet project.
State Rep. Rick Hansen remains deeply skeptical that copper-nickel mining can be done safely. He is trying to find ways in the Legislature to better ensure that mining companies provide the state with adequate financial resources to deal with water cleanup in the future.
“You saw both sides, pro-mining and pro-environment, come together today and say, ‘We don’t want to have this battle,’ ” said Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul. “People know there are deep feelings, but people wanted to come out of here united.”
Baird Helgeson • 651-925-5044