Heyer eyes Hausman’s District 66A seat

The two candidates for Minnesota House District 66A will debate on Wednesday.

by John Thomas

State Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, has represented the House district that includes much of the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus for 25 years.

Now, Republican challenger Jon Heyer hopes a 2012 change of district lines will change that.

Neither campaign has drawn a significant amount of attention from the media, which candidates said is probably due to the district’s stable nature. But Heyer says that could shift with a recent redistricting that added a larger swath of northern suburbs to District 66A.

The candidates are scheduled to have their first debate of the election season at the St. Anthony Park Library on Wednesday.

“[The race] is fairly low-key,” Hausman said, adding that her campaign hasn’t seen the need to take an aggressive stance.

Heyer, who is a retired Catholic educator and a graduate of the University’s College of Liberal Arts, said it’s difficult to comment on what issues have been the flashpoints of the campaign because there hasn’t been much interaction between the candidates.

“She doesn’t ever show up at anything, so it’s hard to tell,” he said, adding that he thinks voters have noticed Hausman’s absence at community events. “She seems to have the idea that if she ignores me, I’ll go away.”

Hausman said she’s been active throughout the area.

“I have the good fortune to represent a district that has fairly high voter turnout,” she said, adding that a high voter turnout generally means a Democratic victory.

Still, Heyer said he’s been involved in the new area covered by the district for decades.

Yvonne Muller, a University graphic design senior who works on the St. Paul campus, said she hasn’t noticed the presence of either campaign, adding that it doesn’t surprise her, because she’s only seen one candidate from any race appear near the St. Paul campus this season.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing,” Muller said, since she doesn’t enjoy political grandstanding.

But the candidates said they plan to appear on campus soon.

Heyer said he’ll visit the University for the homecoming parade this week but isn’t sure whether he will march with CLA or the College Republicans.

Hausman’s campaign will be knocking on the doors of Bailey Hall on the St. Paul campus later this week, she said, adding that this will be the first direct outreach by her campaign to the campus this year.

Heyer said he thinks Hausman’s long tenure shows it’s time for a new face in the district.

“I think one of the real hazards is that people who are there too long get a little bit jaded, a little bit out of contact with the people,” he said.