DFL 'agitator' joins fray in 8th District

For the Bemidji-based Soren Sorensen, democracy starts at the bottom and works up.

Soren Sorensen.jpg
Soren Sorensen
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A third Democrat committed to the 2020 8th Congressional District race is a familiar face and one with a history of challenging the party’s status quo.

Soren Sorensen told the News Tribune this week he’ll make his announcement official in the coming weeks — after he’s able to finance a campaign van and maybe even a storefront.

He’s already active on the Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue, which attempts to leverage small donations into collective clout.

“I’m ready and excited to get out and knock on doors,” Sorensen said in a phone call from his home outside Bemidji. “We need a serious campaign up and down the ballot to rebuild the party. We need to convince ourselves and our supporters that our process is meaningful and that we can do the work that’s required without billionaire support.”

Sorensen also bid for the 2018 Democrat-Farmer-Labor nomination in the 8th District, finishing fifth in a five-person primary won by Joe Radinovich. Sorensen garnered 3.47% of the vote in the primary — 2,415 votes out of nearly 70,000.


While not yet having made it official, Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Hermantown, is raising money for his re-election campaign. On the DFL side, diabetes advocate Quinn Nystrom and Iron Range newcomer Marje Holmstrom-Sabo have announced their candidacies.

Sorensen, 45, said he is currently unemployed and living on $750-per-month disability insurance as he rehabilitates from a workplace back injury. He said he's experienced homelessness, and anti-poverty programs are among his policy interests, which also include pursuit of Medicare for All and reducing the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Provided others do, Sorensen said he’ll adhere to the endorsement at the 8th District DFL convention scheduled for May 2-3.

“A lot of local (DFL) units need to be rebuilt,” he said. “We need to have people agree that we can make business decisions together and make a binding endorsement. We’re better off when we have solidarity — when we have closely allied outside groups like labor.”

Sorensen is active in party politics, attending a forum this week on tribal empowerment in Itasca County, and joining Nystrom earlier this month in speaking at the DFL’s annual Oberstar Dinner in Duluth.

He acknowledged he’s been considered at times a party agitator for challenging party procedure and leadership multiple times in the state's House District 2A, which features his beloved Beltrami County.

“I might be an agitator for using the DFL’s own rules, following state law and proper procedure to allow for grassroots, bottoms-up democracy in the DFL party,” he said. “If that’s being an agitator, then I’m an agitator.”

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