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Murphy faces challenge from Brandon for House District 3B seat

Timothy Brandon and Mary Murphy

State Rep. Mary Murphy has been so popular in her legislative district that voters have made her the third-longest-serving active member of the Minnesota Legislature, and she hopes folks in Hermantown, Proctor, Rice Lake, Duluth’s northern neighborhoods and the Two Harbors area will send her back to St. Paul for a near-record 21st term.

Timothy Brandon says that’s exactly the problem.

“She’s been in office five years longer than I’ve been alive. ... I have nothing against Rep. Murphy. She’s done good work. But times change. Technology changes. Sometimes you need new ideas,” said Brandon, this year’s Republican nominee assigned with unseating longstanding DFLer Murphy.

But Brandon, who lives in the Pike Lake area of Canosia Township, is quick to note that he also has nothing against legislators serving long tenures. After all, if Murphy wasn’t doing her job well, voters wouldn’t keep sending her back by usually large margins over Republican challengers.

Murphy, who has lived in Hermantown all her life, says she’s reinvigorated by the work in St. Paul and says she can still be a key player, contributing the the statewide debate — and solutions — on issues such as education finance and ethics, and also in carrying local legislation, such as the Hermantown community wellness center funding.

Murphy, as might be expected, said it was a frustrating past two years serving in the minority, with a Republican-controlled House battling with the DFL Senate and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. That impasse meant the House blocked many ideas and bills Murphy supported but never got to vote for. In the end there was no tax bill, no transportation bill and no construction/bonding bill — and no special session to pass those — as both sides continue to argue who is at fault.

If DFLers retake the House, Murphy would be in line to be chairwoman of the powerful House K-12 Education Finance Committee, the people who decide how much money school districts get each year to educate students.

Either way, Murphy said the most critical work for 2017 will be to pass a state construction/bonding bill that the divided Legislature failed to produce this year.

“I’m hopeful that, no matter who is in charge, we will do a bonding bill and do it early so we can get going in the next building season for the projects that are shovel-ready. We’ll need a decision by Feb. 15,” Murphy said. “There are several Northeastern Minnesota projects that have been vetted and been through committee and that are ready to go, including the Hermantown or Arrowhead Area Wellness Center, the Duluth steam plant, NERCC and more.”

Brandon said he and Murphy agree that the wellness center is a priority. He also hopes to see increased local government aid for Hermantown, where high property values have limited how much state aid local government received.

That’s an unusual position for a Republican, many of whom oppose the local government aid system that spreads state income and sales tax revenue out to lower local property taxes.

“I’m running under the Republican platform, but not on the Republican platform. I’ve lived here my whole life; I’m going to represent the district, not the party.”

Brandon said he would work to cooperate at the Capitol and “work together to get a budget passed. There's too much division down there now,” he said.

Brandon said he also wants to work to see better broadband internet access across rural parts of the district.

“Even parts of Hermantown don’t have good internet access, and that's a real problem if you are trying to start a small business,” he noted.

Minnesota House 3B

Mary Murphy

  • AGE:   76
  • OCCUPATION: Retired teacher.
  • EDUCATION: Graduated from Hermantown High School; B.A. in history/economics, College of St. Scholastica; graduate work, University of Minnesota Duluth
  • ELECTED/CIVIC EXPERIENCE:  First elected to the Minnesota House in 1976 and re-elected every two years since then for 20 terms.
  • ENDORSEMENTS: Minnesota AFL-CIO & Northeast Area Labor Council, COPE, Education Minnesota, Sierra Club NorthStar Chapter Political Committee, Minnesota Nurses Association, United Transportation Union-SMART-TD Legislative Board MN, Minnesota Professional Firefighters, Conservation Minnesota Voter Center Board of Directors, Service Employees International Union Minnesota State Council, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, AFSCME Council 5 & AFSCME Council 65, Teamsters Joint Council 32 DRIVE, Minnesota Police & Peace Officers Association, Minnesota Credit Union Network Political Action Committee, Minnesota Farmers Union Political Action Committee, Care Providers of Minnesota CARE-PAC Board of Trustees, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party & Senate District 3B DFL, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees.
  • FAMILY: Single
  • WEBSITE: None.

Timothy Brandon

  • AGE:  35  
  • OCCUPATION: Self-employed.
  • EDUCATION: Graduated Proctor High School; graduated Lake Superior College.
  • ENDORSEMENTS: Republican Party.
  • FAMILY: Single.
  • WEBSITE: Facebook at Tim Brandon For MN State Representative 3B and website at