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Our view: Get ready to hear from candidates

Ah, summer in northern Minnesota: the sunshine, cool lake breezes, lazy afternoons in the boat, ball fields, playgrounds, beaches, cookouts, campfires — and an election day?

Yep, Minnesota’s primary election is just 18 days away, on Aug. 12. Generations of Minnesotans may have been trained not to think about politics until after the state fair or until after Labor Day. But in 2010, primaries started to be held earlier, a good call made by the feds so absentee voters, especially military members stationed overseas, had enough time to fill out and return absentee ballots. Primaries started sneaking up on us. This year is no exception.

But with a ballot demanding our attention, whether we’ve been paying attention or not, the good news is there’s still time to catch up, get engaged and be informed. And the News Tribune Opinion page is here to help. Beginning Monday we’ll be publishing commentaries from candidates hoping to advance to the Nov. 4 general election.

In the DFL runoff for governor, incumbent Mark Dayton, with new lieutenant governor candidate Tina Smith, is being challenged by the Leslie Davis/Gregory Soderberg and Bill Dahn/James Vigliotti tickets.

On the Republican side, businessman Scott Honour (with Karin Housley as his running mate), Hennepin County Commissioner and GOP-endorsed Jeff Johnson (with Bill Kuisle), former House Speaker Kurt Zellers (with Dean Simpson), former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert (with Pam Myhra) and the father-son military-veterans team of Merrill Anderson and Mark Anderson are squaring off.

Like Dayton, U.S. Sen. Al Franken has competition from his own party. He’s being challenged next month by fellow Democrat Sandra Henningsgaard. On the Republican side, 16-year Minnesota House veteran Jim Abeler, teacher and entrepreneur David Carlson, investment banker Mike McFadden, veteran and self-proclaimed “boot-strap conservative” Patrick Munro, and perennial candidate Ole Savior are lined up.

Perhaps the most intriguing primary race is for state auditor on the DFL side — at least up north here. Incumbent Rebecca Otto sparked anger across the Iron Range last fall when she voted against mineral exploration by mining companies in those parts of Northeastern Minnesota where the state holds mineral rights. Possibly smelling blood in the water, seasoned politician Matt Entenza, a former six-term state representative and four-year House minority leader, filed to run against her.

The DFLers have a primary in the race for secretary of state, too, with Dick Franson, Gregg Iverson and Steve Simon running.

For attorney general, Republicans Sharon Anderson and Scott Newman are hoping to move on.

In Minnesota House 6A, incumbent Carly Melin is being challenged in the primary by fellow DFLer John Finken.

And in the race to represent the Iron Range’s 4th District on the St. Louis County Board, two candidates will advance from a field that includes Christina Hujanen, Kirsten Reichel and Tom Rukavina.

All these candidates were invited to submit op-eds to introduce themselves, to detail their priorities and to make their best pitches to voters. Most of them took us up on the offer. Their commentaries will be published weekdays through Aug. 7.

So get ready to read. It’s not too late to get engaged and to be ready to vote 18 short days from now, on Aug. 12, Minnesota’s primary election day.

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