1st Congressional District race gets less crowded on DFL side
DFL candidates met at a forum Sunday to pitch their cases to party members why they should fill the 1st Congressional District's vacant seat.
ROCHESTER — A crowded race to fill out the term in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District became a little less so Sunday.
DFL candidate Rick DeVoe, of Red Wing, officially stepped down from seeking the party’s nomination Sunday.
DeVoe was one of six candidates or candidate representatives who attended a DFL forum at the IBEW Local 343 union hall on Sunday.
DeVoe said he needed to focus on his business.
Warren Anderson, Candice Deal-Bartell and Jeff Ettinger were the other DFL candidates attending the forum. Sara Brakebill-Hacke and Richard Painter each had surrogates attending speaking for the candidates.
DeVoe also noted that his neighbors in Goodhue County wouldn’t be able to vote for him in a special election in August even if they would vote for him in a general election in November.
That’s because the district boundaries changed to include Goodhue and Wabasha counties, but only for the general election, not the special election to fill the remainder of the term of former Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died in February, leaving the seat vacant.
The forum was a chance for DFL members to hear directly from candidates before a primary vote May 24, 2022, to narrow down the candidates for the special election Aug. 9, 2022.
However, before the primary election, the 1st Congressional District DFL will meet in Albert Lea May 14, 2022, to endorse a candidate for the November general election for the 2023-25 term.
There’s a chance the winner of the primary, or even the special election might not be the same candidate the DFL endorses.
John Swanson, chairman of Senate District 25 DFL, which helped sponsor the forum along with Olmsted 20/24 DFL, said it was an interesting situation but it was too short of notice to give the party nod to a candidate for the special election before the primary.
“We felt we didn’t know enough about the candidates to make a decision,” he said.
The forum allowed each candidate and their representatives to make opening remarks. They then went to five tables of DFL members to answer questions on various topics and issues.
Shelly Sykes, of Rochester, asked each of the candidates if they supported a universal single-payer health care policy.
She said a slew of moderate answers left her disappointed.
“I don't think being a moderate on this will win,” she said.
Ettinger, an Austin attorney and former CEO of Hormel Foods, said the idea hasn’t gotten anywhere politically.
“I think it would be a complicated step backwards for the millions of people who already have coverage,” he said.
Anderson also said he wouldn’t support a universal healthcare plan.
Deal-Bartell said she supported expanding public health coverage such as medicaid and medicare but said she would stop short of supporting a single-payer plan.
When asked about climate change, Anderson said would push for more government investment in new types of energy now that solar and wind energy have become more financially viable.
Anderson said both the DFL and GOP have become too extreme and moved away from center stances on issues.
Deal-Bartell called for more funding for child care, calling it a “critical part of infrastructure” that allows people to participate in the workforce.
All candidates present agreed that Haggedorn was dismissive and unresponsive to much of his constituency in Minnesota, noting he voted against certifying the 2020 Presidential Election results.