Yesterday, former Representative and unsuccessful Gubernatorial candidate Erin Murphy (DFL-64, St Paul) announced her intention to challenge 30-year incumbent Dick Cohen ((DFL-64, St Paul). This is after Murphy had announced her formation of a new advocacy group Our Stories Our Health.
It is clear Murphy is seeking an angle to get back into the public policy arena, but the problem is she lives in a community where the opportunities are quite limited politically unless someone dies or as she did moves on to a higher office. Her challenge is reminiscent of Rep Sandy Pappas (DFL-65B, St Paul) in challenging 10-year incumbent Sen Don Moe (DFL-65, St Paul). Moe brother of then-Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe (DFL-02, Erskine) lost to Pappas in the Primary and because St Paul is a DFL town the rest is history or in this case herstory.
Murphy is not one shy on bucking tradition or the establishment. Had she remained in the statehouse she likely would have become Speaker, but instead, she mounted a campaign to be the state’s top elected official but failed to solidify the state only carrying the 5th Congressional District. In the House, she broke with tradition when she joined Speaker Paul Thissen (DFL-61B, Minneapolis) as Majority Leader, which had been a seat for Greater Minnesota in order to strike a balance. Coincidently, current Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-36B, Brooklyn Park) and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-46A, Golden Valley) are both suburbanites.
A political place for Murphy is something we heard about since her loss. People have communicated discussions about her potential challenge to DFL Party Chair Ken Martin and also she was mentioned as a potential challenger to Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-MN04). Since neither of these materialized it appears, she settled on Cohen. This will be a major wake-up call to him and force an organizational effort on his part he hasn’t exercised for over three decades.
Since it’s clear this will be a gender-based campaign expressing the progressive accolades it will be a firefight from the convention floor onto the Primary, because its doubtful either will take the decision of the delegates as the final answer. We’ll see if an immigrant Wisconsinite (Murphy) can unsettle a native Minnesotan (Cohen).