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May 13th, 2009

Minnesota 6th Congressional District Contender Maureen Reed

Dr. Maureen Reed speaks in St. Joseph, Minn., May 12, 2009 (Photo: Dave DeMars / St. Joseph Newsleader)
Dr. Maureen Reed speaks in St. Joseph, Minn., May 12, 2009.
(Photo: Dave DeMars / St. Joseph

On Tuesday, May 12, I attended a special DFL Minnesota Senate District 14 meeting in St. Joseph to listen to Dr. Maureen Reed, who is challenging 2008 Democratic candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg for the Democratic and Independence party endorsements in the 2010 Sixth Congressional District race for U.S. Representative against incumbent Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann.

In her opening remarks, Reed said: “I think that it’s going to take a marriage of those two groups [the Democratic and Independence parties] plus a marriage of moderate Republicans to assure a different kind of future for the 6th District.”

On her rationale for running, Reed said, “There is one reason, and really one reason only why I’m running — because I can’t stand to stand by anymore.”

Reed specified the signature issues on which she plans to run as jobs, health care costs, and foreclosures on homes and businesses.

She concluded her introductory remarks by saying, “I’m ready to get to work; I’m ready to focus on the problem, not on assigning blame; I’m ready to focus on what needs to be done to work as I have throughout my career in a very collaborative and creative way to make sure that we achieve that bright future that is in front of us and just waiting to be grabbed” and promised that her campaign will be “highly energetic.”

In an apparent effort to draw a contrast between herself and the incumbent, Reed said she would listen, think, and speak — in that order.

She indicated that there’s already been considerable interest in her campaign, fielding 14 requests for interviews with bloggers and mainstream media and receiving 150 email messages of encouragement or support in the first 48 hours after throwing her hat in the ring at a 6th Congressional District DFL meeting May 5.

During Q&A, when asked what she would do differently than previous, unsuccessful Democratic candidates in the 6th District, Reed said she will not be “complacent” about DFL and IP endorsements, will work “very, very aggressively” to raise the dollars needed for a successful contest, and will make sure that 6th District voters understand that she’s a “Made in Minnesota Moderate.”

In response to a follow-up question, Reed indicated she could “run more effectively” than a male challenger in a prospective contest against Bachmann, because she wouldn’t have to deal with the problem a man might have of being perceived as either “bludgeoning” or “patronizing” the opposing woman candidate.

Asked how she would counter Bachmann’s “evangelical base,” Reed responded that she would convey the message that she’s both a social and a fiscal moderate, and that she would focus on economic issues, such as home foreclosures.

In response to another question, Reed stated that she does not anticipate any difficulty in obtaining the IP endorsement (which seems plausible, considering she was the IP’s candidate for lieutenant governor in 2006).

I wasn’t sure if it was coincidental that former state Sen. Steve Kelley — one of about half a dozen declared Democratic hopefuls to challenge Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty — appeared with Reed at the event, but I think it’s fair to say they’re longtime associates and likely political allies; Reed said Kelley “spearheaded” her election to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents when she ran in 1997, and again in 2003.

Video of Reed’s remarks, courtesy of blogger Political Muse of the blog Liberal in the Land of Conservative:


Dark horse nearly matches Bachmann’s cash
(CQ Politics, July 16, 2009)


Related report

Michele Bachmann Still a Lightning Rod

Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks at an event.
Rep. Michele Bachmann is as polarizing as ever, but do Democrats have a better shot this year? (Photo: John Shinkle)

By Logo - Click to return to home page
May 15, 2009

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is the kind of Republican whom Democrats love to hate: an outspoken social conservative who cuts a high profile in the media.

But at the moment, her opponents don’t appear to be any closer to defeating her than when they started back in 2006, when Bachmann first won her seat with 50 percent of the vote. And after failing to oust her in a strong Democratic year like 2008, some Democrats think it’s only going to get harder to dislodge Bachmann from her exurban Twin Cities and St. Cloud-based seat.

“Sadly, last time was sort of our time to pick her off,” said Donald McFarland, a Minnesota-based strategist who worked on Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg’s campaign in 2008. “We tried hard to knock her off last year, but we couldn’t do it.”

While Tinklenberg held Bachmann to 46 percent, he won just 43 percent himself, with the rest going to a third-party candidate. It was a deeply disappointing result for Democrats, who expected that Bachmann’s polarizing style — and Tinklenberg’s well-funded campaign — would prevent her from winning a second term.

Many were convinced that her controversial comments late in the campaign would prove too much to overcome. In an October interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Bachmann appeared to suggest that the media should investigate then-Sen. Barack Obama and other Democrats in Congress for anti-American activities.

“What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating exposé and take a look. I wish they would!” Bachmann told Matthews. “I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America. I think people would love to see an exposé like that.”

Those remarks generated a firestorm of controversy, but more important, they led to a late outpouring of financial support for Tinklenberg, who ultimately raised $3 million.

Tinklenberg, a former state transportation commissioner who is preparing to run for the seat again, told POLITICO that his prospects for ousting Bachmann in 2010 are better than in 2008, when he began the campaign as a poorly funded, little-known candidate.

“We spent a lot of time trying to convince people that we could win in the 6th District,” said Tinklenberg. “My name recognition was fairly low, so we were building from scratch.”

Republicans say there is a simple reason behind Bachmann’s survival: She appeals to a conservative-minded district that both George W. Bush and John McCain carried by comfortable margins in the past three presidential elections.

“What people fail to recognize about Michele Bachmann is that she is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative in a conservative district,” said Matt Burns, a St. Paul-based GOP strategist. “She has a strong base, and they will support her.”

“She fits the district well,” said Ben Golnik, who has served as political director for the Minnesota Republican Party. “Her district is obviously strongly conservative, strongly pro-life.”

Even Democrats concede that the 6th District presents a difficult landscape for their candidates.

“The voters are a little more independent in that district,” said Bill McCarthy, president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. “It’s really been tough [political terrain], and I expect it will be in 2010.”

Democrats say they plan to zero in on Bachmann’s penchant for generating controversy — a habit, they say, that threatens to turn off moderate Republican and independent voters in the district.

“Her act is wearing thin as voters realize that she is a roadblock for change who is accomplishing nothing besides embarrassing grandstanding,” said Minnesota Democratic-­Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Brian Melendez.

It appears that Democrats will have plenty of fresh material to work with.

In March, Bachmann appeared to urge supporters to take up arms over a Democratic bill to address climate change, telling listeners of a conservative Minnesota radio program: “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back.”

A month later, Bachmann suggested that the swine flu outbreak might have something to do with having a Democrat in the White House.

“I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter,” she told a conservative website. “And I’m not blaming this on President Obama. I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”

Since Gerald Ford was actually president at the time of the earlier outbreak, Bachmann was roundly criticized for her comment.

Republicans don’t deny that during her short time in Washington, Bachmann has emerged as a partisan lightning rod. But they say she’s won the respect of conservatives in her district who applaud her for speaking her mind.

“She’s someone who stands for traditional conservative values,” said Ron Carey, chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party. “Whether you agree or disagree with her, she does what she says. People respect that.”

“Look, they believe in her,” said Bachmann chief of staff Michelle Marston. “There are a lot of people who want someone out there fighting for them on the issues.”

Scott Cottington, a St. Paul-based GOP strategist who has served as a regional field director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, called Bachmann a polarizing figure who infuriates her opponents and excites her supporters.

“Strong statements agitate both your base and your opponent’s,” said Cottington. “When you say things bluntly, you appeal to both ends.”

Tinklenberg’s 2008 performance has left some Democrats unenthusiastic about the prospect of a rematch, so he won’t have a clear path to the nomination in 2010.

Maureen Reed, a physician who ran for lieutenant governor in 2006 on the Independence Party ticket — which won 6 percent of the vote — has filed papers to run as a Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate in 2010.

Reed said she would run as a moderate-minded, centrist candidate — a contrast from Bachmann’s sharply ideological style.

“Moderate Republicans are looking for an alternative choice,” Reed told POLITICO. “I am a moderate, and this is a district that I think is made for a moderate.”

Though Tinklenberg went so far as to donate $250,000 in excess funds from his 2008 campaign coffers to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, representatives from the DCCC and the DFL said they had no plans to endorse a candidate in the primary.

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