Legislative spot opened by Bobby Joe Champion's bid for Senate.
Next Tuesday is primary day in Minnesota. Apart from fights for school board and Hennepin County commissioner, another notable local race is in Minneapolis' District 59B.
Six candidates are registered to run for the seat now occupied by Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, who is vying for Sen. Linda Higgins' vacated Senate seat. Higgins is running for Hennepin County commissioner.
Only four of the candidates have filed campaign finance reports, however. The race to watch is the DFL primary, which has no clear favorite but is likely to decide the winner of the seat this November.
State campaign finance reports show that attorney Ian Alexander is winning the money race, raising more than $18,000 as of July 23. But his background as a Republican has drawn skepticism from at least one liberal blog. After all, among other things he was deputy director for delegate tracking at the 2008 Republican National Convention.
"The more time I spent actually working as a family law attorney in north Minneapolis, the more I began to see that a lot of the policies of the Republican Party were not particularly helping people in my community," Alexander said in an interview. He is open to raising taxes on the wealthy and is an outspoken opponent of the marriage amendment.
Council Members Barb Johnson, Don Samuels, and Lisa Goodman, former U.S. Rep. Martin Olav Sabo and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman are all backing Alexander. So is the building trade union and the Teamsters.
He's a bit unnerved by the backlash from some DFL activists over his Republican past. "It's like this purity test you have to go through, which I find completely disturbing," Alexander said.
One other biographical point: Alexander's house was destroyed in last year's tornado.
Runner-up in the money race is Ray Dehn, an architect and activist who has been recently active on North Side transit issues. Dehn pulled in $14,600 as of July 23, and has snagged endorsements from prominent unions and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison.
Terra Cole, a senior planning analyst with Hennepin County, isn't far behind. Cole raised $13,160 as of the last reporting period.
She is endorsed by longtime state Rep. Phyllis Kahn, Council Member Diane Hofstede and former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton.
The Republican candidate, Gary Mazzotta, has raised about $1,775. His challenger in the primary does not appear to have raised any money.
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732