— Congressman Tim Walz is among the 20 most vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election to the U.S. House, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and he doesn’t dispute it.
The three-term incumbent from Mankato was one of 15 Democrats in races the DCCC identified in March as being particularly tough. Five more Democratic House members were added to the list Dec. 30, making 20 races that the DCCC is asking Democrats to rally around with extra support.
“I think it’s probably fair,” Walz said of the designation. “This is an independent district. I know that I received 50 percent of the vote last time.”
That 2010 contest against Republican Randy Demmer and Independence Party candidate Steven Wilson was the closest of Walz’s three races, but it still wasn’t a squeaker. In a year when Republicans trounced Democrats nationwide and took control of the U.S. House, Walz won 49.3 percent of the vote, Demmer 44.1 and Wilson 5.3.
Running in his first election at any level in 2006, Walz shocked 12-year incumbent Congressman Gil Gutknect, winning by nearly 6 percentage points. That was followed by a blowout victory in 2008 when Walz beat Rochester physician Brian Davis by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
Walz talked mainly about his work in Congress in a recent interview with The Free Press, but he provided a few thoughts about the upcoming campaign — including a hint that his 2011 fundraising totals would be strong when submitted to the Federal Elections Commission later this month.
“We probably had the most support for an off year, without a doubt, that we’ve ever seen,” he said. “Which, I think in a tough economy, is a good sign.”
While he’s proven to be a strong fundraiser in his three previous campaigns, Walz said his work in Congress will be the deciding factor on Nov. 6 because southern Minnesota voters are more interested in results than political rhetoric.
“People want to know what you did. They don’t want to hear the promises.”
But he also intends to outwork whoever the Republicans throw against him.
“Every time we run out here, we take nothing for granted,” Walz said.
An attack a day
Republicans at all levels are continuing efforts to undermine Walz.
On Wednesday, the Republican Party of Minnesota criticized Walz for holding “jobs and the economy hostage by refusing to support the Keystone XL pipeline.” That topic was also the theme of automated phone calls sponsored by national Republicans to southern Minnesotans last month, although it’s a somewhat confusing line of attack because Walz was one of 10 House Democrats to vote for a Republican proposal that required the Obama administation to approve construction of the oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas.
On Tuesday, state Sen. Mike Parry — who, along with former state Rep. Allen Quist, hopes to win the Republican endorsement to challenge Walz — sent out a news release accusing “Washington Walz” of “trying to whitewash over his dismal record on jobs.”
The Parry news release was in response to Walz holding meetings with constituents this week where the economy and jobs were discussed. Parry specifically criticized Walz for failing to support Republican proposals to reduce or eliminate federal regulations that the GOP says are impeding private sector job_growth.
And on Monday, the National Republican Congressional Committee — the DCCC’s counterpart — tried to tie Walz to Jon Corzine, the former CEO of MF Global Holdings Ltd. Investers in MF Global, including many farmers, lost billions of dollars when the company went into bankruptcy.
The NRCC didn’t identify any direct contribution from Corzine to Walz, but suggested Walz should reject DCCC assistance because Corzine — the former Democratic governor of New Jersey — has made contributions to the_DCCC.