By T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol Reporter
Former Duluth City Council president Jeff Anderson says he’s the real deal.
Anderson is pitted against former Congressman Rick Nolan and former state senator Tarryl Clark in a DFL primary scramble in the 8th District to take on first-term Republican Congressman Chip Cravaack.
Nolan has the state party endorsement, Clark a campaign funding database from her unsuccessful run against Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, but he has the district roots and a freshness his rivals lack, Anderson said.
“Former senator Clark has made this race more about her ambitions to be in Congress, versus representing the people of the 8th Congressional District,” Anderson said.
“People are very suspicious why someone would move into the district just to run for office,” he said.
Anderson said Nolan is out-of-step with the times.
“A very nice man,” Anderson said of Nolan.
But two years ago voters rejected a Democratic congressman, former Congressman James Oberstar, who first was elected in 1974, said Anderson.
And Nolan served in Congress more than 30 years ago, he said.
“I think Nolan would have the same challenges Congressman Oberstar had in making that connection to the people today,” Anderson said.
Anderson, 35, born in Ely, is a fourth-generation Iron Ranger.
He served in the Minnesota National Guard and has worked both on-air and in radio advertising.
Anderson has a framed letter of recommendation from the late CBS News legend Charles Kuralt, who was part owner of an Ely radio station.
He intended to seek reelection to the Duluth City Council, said Anderson, when the opening occurred for a Democrat to run for Congress in the 8th.
As for Cravaack, the congressman may be doing the district outreach his office claims, said Anderson.
“But if I’m a small government guy (like Cravaack) who doesn’t believe the federal government should be helping you build your wastewater treatment plant or bridge or things like that, it doesn’t matter,” said Anderson.
“Chip Cravaack — I met him. I think he’s an honorable person. But we just have a different view on how government works,” he said.
Anderson said that he among the DFL candidates best matches up with Cravaack on the issue of mining — Cravaack has become a very pro-mining congressman, Anderson said.
“I know we’ve mined for a 130 years, and I want to see us mine for another 130 years,” Anderson said.
“I want to see us do it safely, I want us to do it the right way,” he said.
“And I believe we can,” he said.
Anderson mentions manufacturing — refining the raw materials from the northern district — as a way of creating jobs in the southern part of the district.
“I have seen firsthand how government can help create jobs and economic opportunity,” said Anderson.
Parts of the southern 8th District are some of the poorest areas in the state, he said.
Anderson views some voters leaning toward Cravaack, but for a needless concern.
“There are folks (there) who vote for people like Chip Cravaack because they’re afraid they’ll (the federal government) take away their guns,” Anderson said. “As a Democrat, I want them to know I don’t want to do that.”
“I support Second Amendment rights. I want to make sure we protect people’s rights to own their guns,” he said.
Anderson cites hunting, fishing, ATV riding, as leisure time pursuits.
On the federal debt, Anderson said it’s not surprising a big deficit exists as the country has been at war for a decade and not paying for it.
“We not only did not raise taxes, but lowered them in a time of war. And that’s a dangerous thing,” he said.
Like his Democratic rivals, Anderson wants to see the Bush tax cuts expire.
The wealthy are not paying their “fair share” of the tax burden, Anderson said.
Anderson rejects both of the proposed constitutional amendments the Republican Legislature has placed on the November ballot — He’s worried that Photo ID will pass.
He views the same-sex marriage-ban amendment as discriminatory.
“I don’t believe that government should look at a this group of people and say, ‘You have different rights than this group of people,’” said Anderson.
“What a church does, that’s the church’s business. But government needs to treat all people the same,” he said.
Though Anderson doesn’t expect the DFL primary contest to be so bruising as to benefit Cravaack, it’s important voters know the difference among the three candidates, he said.
“Any of the three of us is going to wake on Aug. 15 (the day after the state primary) and not have a lot of money, because the money is going to be spent on the primary. So we’re all going to be in the same boat,” said Anderson.
But as the 8th District is a “targeted” race by Democrats, Anderson believes sufficient campaign funding will become available.
Clark has a wide lead in fundraising.
Former state Senator Jerry Janezich of Chisholm supports Anderson.
“I think he can win. I like his politics. And I like his age,” said Janezich.
“I believe that it’s (serving in Congress) a 30-year commitment,” he said.
St. Louis County Commissioner Frank Jewell of Duluth was impressed by Anderson’s service on the Duluth City Council.
Anderson has very good values, said the commissioner.
But Jewell also spoke of Anderson having the burden of fundraising.