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“My strength is that I’ve won four elections in the last seven or eight years in a district that [is] very difficult for Republicans. I’ve won two state Senate races, I’ve won two City Council races, and I think people appreciate my approach,” said Pederson. He raised $52,000 in the last three months and brought in about $90,000 this year.
While some Republicans still cringe at what they saw as the self-inflicted wounds they think cost Emmer the governor’s race, Emmer backers say he has changed from the man who lost to Dayton three years ago.
“I think he is an even stronger candidate now. I see some of the good things that he always had combined with things that he has picked up and learned,” said former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, of Buffalo.
In an interview this week, Emmer was genial but declined to address the turmoil in Washington.
“My standard answer is: I’m not there,” Emmer said.
As to the video he cut pitching for a remodeling firm, Emmer said only: “It’s been resolved.”
The video, which ran briefly on television, showed Emmer, in his role as a congressional candidate, with his Emmer for Congress banner behind him, giving an endorsement for Integrity Exteriors and Remodelers, a local remodeling company that had done work on his campaign office.
Campaign finance experts say that was an apparent campaign finance violation. Emmer’s campaign finance report, filed Tuesday, includes a $850 debt for “advertising” to the firm.
Although it has not yet led to a campaign finance complaint — and the Federal Election Commission is largely shut down, along with much of the federal government — the ad has led to national mocking.
“I don’t know what Tom Emmer’s platform is, but I know who’s going to build it,” said Stephen Colbert last week on his Comedy Central show, “The Colbert Report.” “Thanks to this ad, I will forever associate your campaign with things that need major renovation.”
Emmer said he has not watched the Colbert piece and likely won’t. But the uproar gave Emmer skeptics renewed reason to question the Delano Republican’s ability to keep steady for the long campaign ahead.
“I think the last week or two provided a reminder of some of the unforced errors of 2010,” Golnik said.
DFL chair Ken Martin said the video may not even be the strongest attack on Emmer.
“I, frankly, think it’s a weak attack,” said Martin.
The DFL does not have an announced candidate in the race, but St. Benedict political science professor Jim Read plans to launch a campaign this week.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • Twitter: @RachelSB