The Minnesota Vikings succeeded in passing a stadium bill this year and now want to help those politicians who took difficult votes on their behalf.
Lester Bagley, vice president of public affairs for the team, said the team has been encouraging members of its grass-roots fan organization, MInnesota Momentum, to support legislators and a county commissioner in Tuesday's primary elections. Emails have gone to members of the group in the home districts of legislators facing primary challenges.
Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, who promoted a plan to build a stadium at the old Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Shoreview, is among those on the receiving end, Bagley said. Bennett faces three challengers in the primary, incuding former Sheriff Bob Fletcher.
"It's important that our organization stands with those elected officials who took a hard vote and stood with us," Bagley said in an interview.
He said email messages of support for the politicians will go out to "as many Vikings fans as possible," both now and before the general election on Nov. 6. These are independent political expenditures by the team on behalf of the candidates, sent to constituents known to be Vikings fans.
An email message on behalf of Rep. Connie Doepke, R-Orono, who is in a tough primary for an open Senate seat with Mound City Council member Dave Osmek, says her "opponents are highlighting her stadium support as a reason to vote against her," and encourages Vikings fans "to stand with her during the campaign."
Bagley said these senators are also receiving email support from the team for their primary challenges: Sens. Dick Cohen and Sandra Pappas, both St. Paul DFLers; Sen. Michele Fischbach, R-Paynesville; Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City; and Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids.
House members are Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth; Rep. Steve Smith, R-Mound; and Rep. Tim Sanders, R-Blaine.