Many Minnesota races likely to prove lively

Chris Vetter

This election year is critical to the Democratic and Republican parties. The Democrats hope to regain ground in Congress, while the GOP strives to keep control of both houses as its presidential candidate trails in the polls. Both parties need to win key races in Minnesota that will likely go to the wire this November.
U.S. Senate
The most visible race in the state is for the U.S. Senate, which has gained national attention as Democrats must retain the seat if they hope to win control of Congress.
Democratic incumbent Paul Wellstone has a serious challenge from Republican Rudy Boschwitz, who lost the seat to Wellstone in 1990.
Wellstone is popular among college students, and supports abortion rights and many social programs he says are aimed at improving society. He also has been a noted advocate of gay rights though his support of the Defense of Marriage Act discouraging same-sex marriages drew fire from gay-rights advocates.
Boschwitz favors cutting spending, balancing the budget and reducing the size of government.
He is an abortion opponent, and opposes funding increases for social programs. If elected, he will focus on reforming welfare programs, including reform Wellstone voted against earlier this year.
The two candidates tossed phrases such as “embarrassingly liberal” and “Gingrich agenda” back and forth during two debates on Sept. 16, giving voters a glimpse of what Minnesotans can expect between now and November.
U.S. Congressional Races
The University’s Congressional races will be close this year. The Minneapolis campus is located in the Fifth Congressional District, and the St. Paul campus is located in the Fourth Congressional District.
ù Democrat Martin Sabo represents the Fifth District. He handily defeated Republican Dorothy LeGrande in 1994, and has represented the district since 1978.
Sabo describes himself as an advocate for national health care, pay equity, abortion rights and funding for the environment and education.
Sabo will face Republican challenger Jack Uldrich. Uldrich considers himself a moderate Republican. He supports gay rights and abortion rights.
Uldrich said he differs with Sabo because he will focus on balancing the budget and cutting government spending if he is elected.
ù The Fourth district will feature a rematch from 1994, when Democratic incumbent Bruce Vento defeated Republican challenger Dennis Newinski.
Vento has represented the district since 1976, and supports abortion rights and funding for education, welfare and environmental protection.
Newinski, who narrowly lost in 1994, did very well in the St. Paul suburbs, but received less than 40 percent of the vote in St. Paul.
Newinski describes himself as tough on crime and wants to cut federal spending in order to balance the budget.
State Senate District 59
The local state Senate race in district 59 features Democratic incumbent Larry Pogemiller and Republican Cathy Carlson, a newcomer to politics. District 59 encompasses all of the University campus except Middlebrook Hall.
Pogemiller says he strongly supports abortion rights and that he represents the University community well.
Carlson, who works for the postal service, said her campaign is underfunded, as it did not qualify for government-matching funds. She said she better represents her district because her constituents are blue-collar, middle-class workers like her.
State House District 59B
This district encompasses all of the University’s Minneapolis campus except for Middlebrook and this race’s winner will have the most impact on the University.
Phyllis Kahn, a 24-year incumbent, typically receives nearly 60 percent of the vote and is considered to be very difficult to beat. She supports abortion rights, women’s rights and environmental protection.
Kahn is up against challengers Tom Gromacki, a Republican, and Reform party candidate Alan Shilepsky.
Both challengers said Kahn is losing popularity in her district and is not as invincible as in years past.
University Students
College Republicans Gromacki and Chris Boik, and U-DFL member Paul Kluge have all decided to run for office this year. All three are underdogs, and each will face an uphill challenge in defeating the sitting incumbent.
ù Gromacki, a college of Liberal Arts junior, is running for the state House 59B seat held by Kahn.
ù Kluge, an Institute of Technology senior, is running for the State Senate District 23 seat in New Ulm. He will face Republican Dennis Frederickson, a 16-year incumbent. Kluge describes himself as “unabashedly liberal.” ù Boik, an Institute of Technology sophomore, is seeking the House seat in district 27B, in Austin. Boik will face first term incumbent Democrat Rob Leighton.