MANKATO — State Senate candidate Paul Marquardt, DFL-Eagle Lake, was noting recently that first-time candidates faced a big challenge in the days leading up to July 23.
In order to qualify for public campaign financing (about $5,000 for most Senate contenders), candidates needed to generate $3,000 in contributions from individuals by that date. And only the first $50 of any contribution counts toward the $3,000 threshold, so that means at least 60 contributors must be persuaded to write a check long before most people are even thinking about the fall election.
The point of the rule is to force candidates to demonstrate — before getting the public campaign financing — that they are serious and that they have the support of average Minnesotans. For a first-time candidate without a ready list of contributors, it’s a daunting task.
“It’s pretty overwhelming to say the least,” said Marquardt, a retired plumber who’s challenging longtime Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont.
Brandon Anderson, a Chisholm Republican also running for a Senate seat, allegedly got creative when trying to round up his $50 contributions — maybe a little too creative. Anderson sent an email to other Republican candidates, suggesting he could send them $50 and they could send him $50, according to reports in Politics in Minnesota and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board is said to be scrutinizing Anderson’s tactic.
Parry, Quist debate
Congressional candidates Mike Parry and Allen Quist made a joint appearance on Twin Cities Public Television’s “Almanac” show Friday night. Folks who opted to watch the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics rather than “Almanac” missed 16 minutes of interesting debate, although it might have looked like a rerun to people who’ve paid close attention to the increasingly contentious race.
Parry said Quist’s controversial past makes him unelectable against Democratic Congressman Tim Walz. Quist said Parry is afraid to discuss the complex issues that really matter, so he’s running a negative, attack-based campaign.
Here’s the bulk of the first five minutes or so:
Parry: “We’re always accused of putting out attacks, which is not true. All we’re trying to do is — I didn’t vote for a tax increase, I opposed light-rail boondoggles, I didn’t do investigative reporting in a triple-X porn shop. I didn’t make comments about women. I didn’t do that stuff. And when you’re going against Tim Walz in the general election, you cannot have that kind of baggage. ...”
Almanac co-host Cathy Wurzer: “That’s quite a laundry list there, Allen Quist.”
Quist: “It is a laundry list and Mike says he’s comparing voting records. That’s not where the emphasis is. He’s doing personal attacks having nothing to do with voting records or issues. (Quist talks about virtually all of Parry’s news releases criticizing Quist rather than talking about Parry’s position on issues.) “So I’m going to give you an award for running a negative campaign.”
Almanac’s other co-host, Eric Eskola, asks Parry if there are any major policy differences between the candidates.
Parry: “First, let me give out my reward (sic). Because obviously we’ve been asking Mr. Quist to man up to the statements he’s made, but he’s run away from them ...”
Wurzer: “In the late 1980’s?”
Parry: “That’s right. But he’s run away from them so fast, I think he deserves an Olympic medal. Right? The Olympics are going on.”
Wurzer: “I hear that, yeah.”
(Parry says the most important difference in the primary is which candidate can beat Walz.)
Eskola to Quist: “Are you electable?”
Quist: “Eric, let’s just observe what’s happening here. You asked Mr. Parry, are there issues where you disagree? And what does he do? He launches into a personal attack on me. He doesn’t mention any issues at all.”
(Parry attempts to jump in.)
Quist: “Hey, hey! I get my chance. He says nothing about issues. It’s all personal attacks. ...”
Molnau, Demmer endorse Parry
Quist said seven of Parry’s last eight news releases have been attacks, but there were a couple announcing endorsements. Two well-known political figures in the 1st District are now officially supporting the Waseca state senator and pizza restaurant owner.
Former Lt. Gov. and Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau, who lives in Nicollet County, called Parry a “strong leader” and “the right candidate to retire Congressman Tim Walz.”
Former state Rep. Randy Demmer, R-Hayfield, described Parry as “a strong fiscal conservative” and “the strongest candidate” against Walz. Demmer was the Republican challenger to Walz in 2010, losing 49 percent to 44.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is backing Quist, including holding a Rochester fundraiser for him which reported raised about $9,000.
Unopposed Cornish enjoys bikini parade
State Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, hasn’t endorsed either congressional candidate. But on Saturday, Cornish did endorse the bikini parade at Madison Lake’s Paddlefish Days.
Cornish officially was an “auditor” for the effort to set a Guinness Book of World Records mark for largest bikini parade. The effort fell about 400 bikinis short of the record, so the unmarried five-term incumbent didn’t have a lot of auditing to do.
Nonetheless, Cornish — who said he supported the bikini parade’s goal of raising breast cancer awareness — was right in the middle of the three-dozen women in scanty swim-wear as they marched in the Paddlefish Days parade.
Unopposed in this year’s election, Cornish was pretty much the only candidate in the parade. Paddlefish Days for the first time banned political units, and Cornish isn’t sure why.
The decision by Madison Lake officials to allow a bikini parade but ban politicians might tempt “Campaign Notebook” to offer a little joke. Something on the order of ...
Q: Why did they decide to ban politicians at the Paddlefish Days parade?
A: Because with three dozen women in bikinis, parade organizers figured people were already seeing more than enough ...
But wait, “Campaign Notebook” has the utmost respect for political candidates — who sacrifice countless hours, financial resources and time with their families so that voters will have a choice on Nov. 6 — and wouldn’t stoop to telling a cheap joke at their expense.