Last night, the Republican Senate District 11 Central Committee met and endorsed Rep Jason Rarick (R-11B, Pine City) for the Senate 11 seat with 64%. This also cleared the field of opposition candidates, because his challengers are withdrawing their names from the ballot, meaning there will not be a Primary on the GOP side.
Additionally, Rarick provides a few challenges for the House of Labor because as an Electrician and an IBEW 110 member, Rarick has captured a block of support traditionally, in the DFL hands. We are interested in where other parts of organized labor weigh in. We hear there is a bit of posturing by Intl Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, who we understand, are open to supporting Rarick, which is a surprise since they support a gas tax increase, which Rarick has voted against. We also understand the Engineers have been told by Sen Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-13, Nisswa he has another funding mechanism for road bridge construction.
It is clear the House of Labor is divided because Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook), as a former Business Agent for the Carpenter’s Union sees the need for retention of a one-vote minority as paramount to having as much leverage as possible in negotiations with Gazelka. The difference one vote makes is significant. It also is a major issue in the negotiations between the Republican-controlled Senate and Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) who is also proposing a gas tax increase.
We are awaiting other portions of this question, and where the different labor groups line up. We expect the Federation of Teachers will back the DFL candidate that emerges from the Primary. Basing endorsements on long-standing relationships we would expect the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters will align similarly, but the question over whether the other members of the Building Trades follow suit, where will the Laborers, the Painters, and the Steelworkers weigh in. Not to mention, MAPE, SEIU, and AFSCME. Because this is a Special Election their contacts in the labor community will be invaluable. We also will not be surprised to see the different unions wait until after the January 22nd Primary and see which DFL candidate emerges on their own. We always believe if you beat someone in an internal contest you, as a candidate, become stronger for the effort.
One major point of all elections following vacancies is what we like to call the Domino effect. This situation is a prime example. Because Sen Tony Lourey (DFL-11, Kerrick) was appointed he set the dominos in motion, resulting in an opening for a House member to seek the seat and if Rarick were to obtain it then another Special Election would ensue. If that election resulted in a local mayor, city councilor or school board member obtaining the seat then another seat would require filling.
All that said, the appointment by Walz comes at a cost, which is near $100,000 for a Senate Special Election and then if the House seat were to open another approximately $75,000 election. This means a victory by Rarick would come at an additional cost.
Seems like the question over fiscal responsibility is in play and if people like Rarick he could stay put and they would get the same situation as they would if he lost. The advantage clearly lies with Rarick he gets to vie for the seat at no significant cost to himself because it is picked up by the local taxpayers.