DFLers endorse law school graduate for Murphy's Senate seat
RED WING – DFLers on Saturday overwhelmingly backed recent law school graduate Joe Fricke for the Senate District 28 endorsement over retiring Lewiston-Altura Superintendent Bruce Montplaisir.
Fricke won the endorsement on the first ballot, receiving 41 votes. Montplaisir received seven. Helping to bolster Fricke's campaign was the support of Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, who is retiring after 18 years in the Minnesota Senate. Fricke had also pledged to abide by the DFL endorsement, while Montplaisir said he planned to run in the August primary regardless. The winner of that primary will take on the Republican-endorsed candidate John Howe, who is mayor of Red Wing.
Fricke told delegates gathered at the Red Wing Public Library that DFLers are the underdog in the District 28 race. But he said underdogs have won before, including Murphy in his first election.
"I really think we can do this. It is going to be a really big challenge this year, but I think we can get it done like Steve did 18 years ago," he said.
The 28-year-old Red Wing resident said his campaign strategy will be plenty of one-on-one campaigning with residents in the district. During the endorsing convention, he said he supports raising revenue to help with the state's budget deficit as long as it is done in a way that does not hurt Minnesota families. He said he would also push for promoting economic development in rural areas and fully funding education.
"If we make the necessary investments in public education, we will see the benefits as our highly skilled work force attracts new business and spawns entrepreneurs to create jobs," he said. "I would like to see our new tax revenues come from increased economic activity and not from the pockets of our working families."
While introducing Fricke to the convention delegates, Murphy said Fricke will support the Prairie Island Nuclear Plant unlike Howe, who has criticized the plant. Murphy added that while some have raised questions about the candidate's young age, he himself was elected when he was 32.
"We need a fresh set of eyes," Murphy said. "We need someone who has the drive and energy that Joe has to stand up with the jawbone and backbone to get the job done."
Meanwhile, Montplaisir said he plans to stay in the race and will emphasize the need to fix the state's funding formula for schools and make sure everyone has access to quality health care. He said it is going to take a strong candidate willing to take on challenges to beat Howe.
"We need to address funding issues, we need to address education, we need to address health issues," he said.
DFLers also endorsed two other legislative candidates who were running unopposed for the endorsement. They endorsed Jerry Roth, a multi-machine operator at Cannon Equipment in Cannon Falls, who is running for the House District 28A seat held by Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing. They also endorsed Plainview Chamber of Commerce director and farmer Mark. A. Schneider, who is running for the House District 29B seat held by Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa.
Roth said that if elected, he would focus on making sure education, transportation and health care are properly funded. Schneider said one of his priorities is alternative energy, especially ethanol. He said he is concerned about the damage that fossil fuels such as coal do the environment.