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Impatient for change, progressives line up to challenge DFL incumbents

Emerging voter blocs that have transformed DFL seek a seat at the table. 


U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar upset an incumbent in the Legislature and challenged a moderate in the primary for her House seat.


A bevy of progressives are challenging longtime Democratic incumbents in the Legislature in next year’s elections, potentially sending more women, millennials and people of color to the State Capitol while shifting the DFL dialogue to the left.


The movement is a muscular show of influence among emerging voter blocs that have already transformed the DFL coalition but now seek the real prize: an election certificate that will earn them a seat at the table and the opportunity to move billions of dollars in state funding.


Tanner Sunderman, a 25-year-old Roseville resident challenging longtime Rep. Alice Hausman of St. Paul in the first-ring suburbs, said now is the time. “We’re done waiting,” he said.


The strategy is not without risks, however. Senate Democrats are just two seats shy of a majority, and some DFL operatives and officeholders fear the insurgent campaigns could drain much needed money, time and energy from the effort to win in the fall, while exposing more moderate candidates in the suburbs to the charge that their party has moved too far left.


State Sen. Kari Dziedzic of Minneapolis, who heads up the Senate DFL campaign operation, acknowledged discomfort with intramural contests before the fall election.

“Of course it makes it more challenging to take back the Senate, but we’re just going to keep plugging forward,” she said.


With all 201 legislative districts up for election in 2020, the stakes are significant. In 2021, the Legislature will craft a two-year state budget expected to top $50 billion and draw new legislative and congressional districts using data from the 2020 census, which will shape Minnesota politics for the next decade.


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"Impatient for change, progressives line up to challenge DFL incumbents"; By J. Patrick Coolican and Torey Van Oot; StarTribune; October 27, 2019


Keywords: Mpls2040, Politics, DFL

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