D.C. Dispatches is on the campaign trail in the 8th District this
week, profiling the DFL congressional candidates competing in next
week's primary election. Today is former state Sen. Tarryl Clark
Second of three articles
SILVER BAY, Minn. -- Tarryl Clark is browsing the fabric displays
at the Behind the Seams quilting supply shop here in the tiny town.
There's a Cat in the Hat quilt draped over a door, and she's telling
a story about the time she made a Scrabble-themed quilt for her son
and his girlfriend.
Clark has visited 13 of these quilting stores since Friday.
Minutes later, she'll hit up another, just a few miles down Highway
61. Minnesota's quilters are hosting a scavenger hunt of sorts, and
since the 8th Congressional District is home to a third of the shops
on the event's list of featured stores, Clark said she's trying to
visit as many as she can.
Clark is one of three DFL candidates running in Tuesday's party's
primary election. And between buying strips of fabric for projects
delayed by her campaign ("I get to collect more fabric than I get to
quilt," she jokes), she's shaking hands and asking shop owners what
they expect from their member of Congress.
A former state senator, DFL party official and candidate for
Congress in the 6th District, Clark is a veteran campaigner, and
she's been showing it this primary campaign. She's released a half-
dozen TV ads, tries to attend up to 10 campaign events a day and has
staffers and volunteers making up to 20,000 phone calls a week ahead
of Tuesday's primary.
She's raised a ton of money as well ($1.1 million through July
25, compared with $171,000 for Jeff Anderson and $357,000 for Rick
Nolan). A key prong to her closing argument is viability: In order
to knock off Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack in a high-profile fall
campaign, the DFL needs to put up an experienced, effective
campaigner like her, she says.
"It's always been about representing our families and our
communities, period," she said. "For me, it's not good enough that
it's about beating someone. It really is about choices we have."
Moving to the 8th
The question is whether such campaigning expertise will matter to
8th District DFLers.
After her failed 2010 congressional bid against Rep. Michele
Bachmann, Clark bought a condo in Duluth and announced her run last
May, opening herself up to a consistent line of attack from
opponents who say she isn't rooted deeply enough in the 8th
"Tarryl Clark has made this race more about her own personal
political ambitions than about the people she wants to represent,"
said Anderson, a former Duluth City Council member running a
campaign based primarily around his life in the 8th.
But Clark said she's more connected to the district than her
opponents will acknowledge, having worked in northern and central
Minnesota her entire life, "professionally, personally and
"I've spent more time on church floors doing youth retreats than
Chip Cravaack has lived in the district," she said (Cravaack grew up
in Ohio but has lived in Minnesota since 1990. His family moved to
New Hampshire last summer, but Clark's own residency history would
probably neutralize that as a fall campaign issue, should she win on