Newspaper article

Why Money — and Miles — Are So Important in the 8th District DFL Primary

Newspaper article

Why Money — and Miles — Are So Important in the 8th District DFL Primary

Article excerpt

In the four-way DFL primary to succeed Rep. Rick Nolan in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, it comes down to miles and money.

Former state Rep. Joe Radinovich, Nolan’s former campaign manager, acknowledged as much as he kicked off a regional tour at Clyde Iron Works, a repurposed industrial crane factory in the heart of Duluth’s once-thriving west end.

“I’m going to do this by wearing out my shoe leather, like I always have,” Radinovich told a group of about 40. “When I was in the Legislature, I knocked on more doors than any other Democrat.”

Radinovich also recognized the need for fundraising. “The real challenge that we have is that we have enough money, that we spend it in the right places,” he said in an interview.

Radinovich was speaking for himself, of course, but he could have been speaking for his three challengers as well: state Rep. Jason Metsa, former news anchor Michelle Lee, and North Branch mayor Kirsten Kennedy.

To have a chance in the 8th District’s DFL primary, the four will need to reach out to the estimated 55,000 to 70,000 primary voters, stretched across the 8th District’s 27,000 square miles — an area larger than 10 U.S. states and the Republic of Ireland — from International Falls to North Branch. All four need money — as much as a $500,000 — to do that with any effectiveness.

The matter of miles and money forced Leah Phifer, a former FBI employee and the frontrunner at the April 14 DFL endorsing convention, to abandon plans to go on to the Aug. 14 primary. “You need to be on the road seven days a week,” she said. “I think it’s incredibly important that a candidate puts in the time, and that can be difficult.”

For her endorsement campaign, Phifer raised $90,000, a fraction of what she knew she needed to continue for “another long four months.” To get to the half-million-dollar budget, she said, “You are going to rely on outside money – outside the district. …

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