8th District candidates square off
Political campaigns can behave and exist in vacuums until they're forced onto the same stage together. It's there candidates encounter the friction of real-time opposition, and where their preparedness and mental sharpness are tested on the spot....
Political campaigns can behave and exist in vacuums until they're forced onto the same stage together.
It's there candidates encounter the friction of real-time opposition, and where their preparedness and mental sharpness are tested on the spot.
In the 8th Congressional District, one such test comes at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Depot, 506 W. Michigan St., in downtown Duluth, where Republican Pete Stauber, Democrat Joe Radinovich and the Independence Party's Ray "Skip" Sandman will meet for a much-anticipated candidate forum, sponsored by the News Tribune and Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce.
The forum is free and expected to fill the 580-seat Playhouse Theatre. It is scheduled to run 45 minutes. The candidates will be allowed 1-minute answers and 30-second rebuttals.
All three campaigns say their candidates are ready.
Having been in step with President Donald Trump since launching the district's first campaign 15 months ago, Stauber plans to try and separate himself by touting a "reinvigorated economy," according to his campaign spokesperson.
"Pete looks forward to illustrating the fundamental differences between he and his opponents on the role the federal government plays in our lives," Stauber spokesperson Caroline Tarwid said. "... he believes Minnesotans, not the federal government, make this region great."
The Radinovich camp said he's looking forward to talking about issues, such as making health care more affordable and protecting Social Security and Medicare.
"Instead of letting disgraceful attack ads paid for by Pete Stauber's cronies do all the talking, voters deserve the opportunity to hear the differences between these two candidates and how they approach these important issues," said Radinovich campaign manager Meredith Raimondi, nodding to the scores of television and internet attack ads - from both sides - which have fueled the race to this point.
Sandman is the only one of the three to have taken the 8th forum stage before, in 2014, when he ran against Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills.
"(Skip) believes the voters of the 8th District will recognize he's the strongest candidate on issues like protecting water and the environment, health care, wealth disparity and gun control," spokesperson Mike Kuitu said.
One of the moderators, Chamber President and CEO David Ross, said he expects a civil forum despite the partisan divisiveness dominating American politics. The forum does not include audience questions and features a number of characteristics designed to keep the attention on the candidates and their responses. For example, no political signs are allowed in the theater and the Duluth Police Department will be on hand to address any overt unruliness.
"We expect the best from the people who are there," Ross said. "We will not tolerate incivility and we will say so in our opening remarks."