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Kiscaden's Senate record warrants vote in primary

Opponent is in the fringe of the right-wing

EDITOR'S' NOTE: This is the first of two editorials on the District 30 Senate race.

; This has been a year of political surprises and it includes one primary election contest that has enormous importance for Rochester and the surrounding region.

The race involves Sen. Sheila Kiscaden vying with Howard C. Ives in the Independence Party primary for Senate District 30. The new District 30 covers the southern half of Rochester and sections of Olmsted and Wabasha counties.

It is, in our view, the single contest in the election that could make the most difference to the future of this region. That is because Kiscaden has a 10-year record of outstanding service and has established herself as a senator with leadership abilities and the capacity to work successfully with her colleagues in both major parties.

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In spite of that record, Kiscaden was denied the endorsement of the Republican Party. That decision was made by 74 Republican Party members for the 74,000 residents of District 30. It was one result, among many, of the low turnout for caucuses of both parties throughout the state.

Mainstream voters in both parties have abandoned the caucuses. The result is that nominees can be chosen by small segments of the parties that are usually deeply committed to two or three issues. In this case, the 74 Republican caucus members chose as their nominee Lynn Zaffke, of the Stewartville area, over Kiscaden. Zaffke is a part-time minister, runs a strawberry farm and does some contracting work. His only experience in government is three years as a member of the Stewartville School Board.

By contrast, Kiscaden has been a key player in the work of the Senate. She is the lead Republican member of the Health and Family Security Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Health Occupations; a member of the Subcommittee on Data Privacy, the Committee on Health and Human Services, the Capital Investment Committee, the Legislative Audit Commission; the Subcommittee on Employee Relations; the Legislative Oversight Committee on Health Care Access, Legislative Commission on Fiscal Policy, the Task Force on Long-term Care, The Task Force on Health Care Cost and Quality, the Task Force on Children's Mental Health, and the Governor's Task Force on Dental Access.

That array of committee assignments is just one indication of Kiscaden's leadership in the Senate. She also has been chosen more than once as the outstanding member of the Senate. That record is important because Rochester area residents have long felt that this area has received too little consideration from the Minnesota Legislature.

The region's influence already has been weakened by the retirement of Rep. Dave Bishop, a veteran House member who also was successful in representing the needs of this area in St. Paul. If Kiscaden is discarded by voters, we will have a far less experienced contingent of legislators in St. Paul.

That should be of concern to the business community, to those who have long sought expansion of the area's higher education services and to anyone who recognizes that the Rochester area contributes far more to the state of Minnesota than it receives in return.

Kiscaden could have competed with Zaffke in the Republican primary, but she concluded that the turnout for that election would be low and possibly would be dominated by the same interests who opposed her in the caucus.

Her opponents there are members of a far-right faction critical of her stand on abortion and gun control, among other issues. She, incidentally, is in favor of some changes in gun control regulations, so long as the sheriff or police chief making the decision has the power to refuse to issue a gun permit to someone who is mentally ill or has other problems such as alcoholism or drug addiction.

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After Kiscaden announced that she would seek the Independence Party nomination, Ives also announced as an Independence Party candidate for the District 30 seat. Ives had shown no earlier interest in the Independence Party. In fact, he endorsed Zaffke's nomination in the Republican caucus on May 16.

Ives is a Northwest Airlines pilot and never has sought or held public office. He was active as a Republican in earlier years and then became a member of the Constitution Party, which has extreme right-wing views.

Ives has been accused of being a stealth candidate, whose goal is to force Kiscaden to expend money in the primary so that it would not be available for use in the general election against Zaffke. Since Zaffke is unopposed in the primary, his supporters also could vote for Ives in an effort to defeat Kiscaden. Since there are spending limits in these races, a candidate facing a primary contest has less to spend in the general election.

Ives denies that he is a stealth candidate and says he is in the race to win. He said he will take a two-week leave from his job to campaign and will be able to get time off to serve in the Legislature if he should win. However, regardless of his own intent, Zaffke's supporters still would be free to vote for Ives in the primary if they wished to do so -- especially since his views on issues such as abortion and gun control are similar to theirs.

Ives has conducted a low-key campaign. The Post-Bulletin even has received a call from someone trying to learn his address and phone number. He has a web site on his candidacy that lists a post office box instead of an address and lists a campaign office phone number that is answered by a machine.

; He supports the Constitution Party platform, including a provision that members of Congress should not be paid a salary and that congressional pensions should be abolished. The platform also has a provision saying that the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion is illegitimate and that opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. The platform also calls for the abolition of Civil Service in the federal government and says that this country should withdraw from the United Nations and that the U.N. should be required to move out of the United States.

The Constitution Party has pages and pages of provisions of this sort. The fact that Ives was a member of the party -- and still supports these views -- marks him as a member of a small fringe of extreme right-wing thinkers. He certainly is separated by light years from mainstream voters of any major party.

On this page on Thursday we will present biographical material on Kiscaden that demonstrates the extent of her experience, her education and her work history related to her role as senator.

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We leave it to readers to review and evaluate the history of the two candidates and to decide who is more worthy of support.

We believe Kiscaden's 10 years in the Senate, her previous career in which she dealt with important public policy issues, and her long history of volunteer service to poor people around the world justify her nomination.

; However, those who wish to support her must recognize that, if they vote for her, they will not be able to cast a vote for a candidate of any other party in the primary. If they do so, it would result in a spoiled ballot. In the general election, of course, ticket splitting is not a problem.

We will deal with that subject and other issues in a second editorial on Thursday.

The issue:

Kiscaden's opponent has no government experience and supports extreme policies.

Our comment:

Her election is the most important issue facing District 30 voters in the Sept. 10 balloting.

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