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As is the tradition for every major election, the Reader Weekly pulled together a committee to endorse candidates. This year’s panel consisted of publisher Robert Boone, staffers Richard Thomas and Jim Lundstrom, writer John Gilbert and KUWS radio host (and former News Tribune editor) Robin Washington. Unlike certain other local papers, our endorsements were not dictated by the powers that be in Fargo.
Since it’s our standard editorial policy not to identify specific editorial board members’ specific positions, we have assigned each panel member a pseudonym. We discussed this over a meal at Grandma’s Saloon, eerily replicating the diner scene from “Reservoir Dogs,” so we have assigned each panel member a pseudonym from that film. (The discussion has been edited for clarity and length.)
The panel unanimously favored Biden over Trump, so this was the only discussion on that subject:
Mr. Pink: It’s pathetic the Democrat Party can’t come up with anyone better. That should be our headline. “Biden is a terrible choice for President.” And the next page should be, “Unless you compare him to Trump.”
Mr. Orange: Who would you pick among the Democrats? My first choice was Elizabeth Warren, then Bernie. After that they’re all a blur.
Mr. Pink: Elizabeth Warren is more establishment than she wants to admit. She has more big donors than she wants to admit. But she’s far more dynamic, and when she said had a plan on a topic, she really had a plan. And that’s really so far ahead of the rest of them. I think the country would have been far better off with Warren.
Mr. Orange: Do you think she could have beaten Trump? America could vote for a black guy, but a woman? Hell, no.
Mr. Pink: They have to sometime.
(We went straight to the Minnesota U.S. Senate race, Republican Jason Lewis versus Democrat Tina Smith.)
Mr. White: I like Tina Smith.
Mr. Pink: I like Tina Smith.
Mr. Orange: I like Tina Smith.
Mr. Blue: Sure.
Mr. Pink: What about the marijuana guy?
Mr. Orange: We have two candidates there. Oliver Steinberg (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party) and Kevin O’Connor (Legalize Marijauana Now).
Mr. Pink: Mr. Blue is in hog heaven here.
Mr. Orange: How are they competing against each other? Where do they disagree?
Mr. Blue: They should team up.
Mr. White: Wouldn’t it be easier to get Tina Smith to smoke a joint now and then?
Mr. Orange: She probably does.
Mr. Pink: Now for U.S. Representative. Pete Stauber, Quinn Nystrom or Judith what?
Mr. Orange: Schwartzbacker. (Judith Schwartzbacker, Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party)
Mr. White: I say Quinn Nystrom.
Mr. Orange: Same here, but there is the argument here that Pete is slightly independent, he votes against Trump 12 percent of the time. There is the argument that Pete is at least good for the region. I think that mainly refers to mining, but he’s in favor of the Great Lakes (Restoration) Initiative. Trump was trying to cut that down and at least Pete was opposed to that.
Mr. Blue: He would have to be, though.
Mr. White: Right now still he’s chained to Trump’s belt.
Mr. Orange: Lips firmly planted.
Mr. White: When he flew back and Trump got sick, without telling anybody he got into a commercial airliner. He might have contaminated 50 people on that plane. It was unbelievably stupid of him to do that. And I know the family, I love the family.
Mr. Pink: I’m gonna vote for Pete Stauber.
Mr. Orange: What what WHAT? Did I convince you? I just was putting up the devil’s argument here.
Mr. Pink: He’s just slightly less reprehensible than most Republicans and he’s very local and Brainerd is more ... Brainerd doesn’t represent Duluth. Brainerd revolves around Minneapolis.
Mr. Orange: What’s Brainerd got to do with it?
Mr. Pink: That’s where Quinn Nystrom’s from. And for some reason it’s a political machine. Last two or three times we’ve had a lot of power coming out of Brainerd.
Mr. White: Pete is so, first thing he says out of every breath is, Twin Metals, we gotta do it no matter what. I’ve talked with him, you can’t reason with him, you can’t even discuss it with him. It’s like you’re a communist if you’re not in favor of local mining. So I find him reprehensible even though I love the family.
Mr. Pink (to Mr. Blue): Any thoughts from you?
Mr. Blue: I once stayed with a woman named Quinn and she was crazy.
Mr. Pink: Powerful argument. OK, Thomas Bakk versus Christopher Hogan for State Senate District 3? Bakk’s an institution on the Iron Range.
Mr. White: Bakk’s a heavy favorite there.
Mr. Orange: I guess. I’ll hold my nose and vote for Bakk.
Mr. White: Reluctantly.
Mr. Orange: Then there’s Donna Bergstrom versus Jen McEwen.
Mr. White: Jen McEwen is staunchly against Polymet and against Glencore, and she is in favor of fighting climate change.
Mr. Blue: She was the one who beat Erik Simonson.
Mr. Pink: Erik Simonson was no piece of cake, either. Nobody missed him.
Mr. Orange: Yeah, he closed the Norshor.
Mr. White: That puts her way ahead of all those people who don’t accept that there is such a thing as climate change.
Mr. Pink: If you’re a good Republican and you admitted to climate change, you couldn’t be pro-coal. Therefore, no scientists should ever be listened to.
Mr. Orange: But you’re for Bergstrom. Why Bergstrom?
Mr. Pink: She ran a couple of years ago and I thought she was very good for a Republican.
Mr. Blue: That’s not saying much.
Mr. White: Give us some reasons why we should honor your choice (of Bergstrom).
Mr. Pink: I don’t have any more than that.
Mr. White: That’s it. You just like her.
Mr. Pink: I’ve talked to her two or three times. She seems …
Mr. White: Close personal friend?
Mr. Pink: I don’t think I’ve ever met her.
Mr. Blue: She’s running as a nice lady.
Mr. Pink: I think all the world needs balance and I think our nation’s going to hell in a handbasket anyway …
Mr. White: Because of lack of balance.
Mr. Pink: Well …
Mr. White: So we got to overbalance it to get balance.
Mr. Pink: What’s the next race?
Mr. Orange: David Tomassoni on the Iron Range. He’s been there forever. District 6, state senate, versus John J. Moren. I think Tomassoni’s kind of a given. He’s been there, I don’t know, since the 1930s or something? (Note: Tomassoni was state senator 2001-2013 and 2017-2020 and state representative 1993-2001.)
Mr. White: It’s balance, so Mr. Pink can forget his fascination with ol’ what’s her face.
Mr. Pink: Fascination is too strong. Most of the DFL up there is pro-mining and has been corrupted by IRRRB money at some point in time, but if there wouldn’t be any Republicans it’d be better.
Mr. Orange: Next is 7A, Jennfer Schultz versus Tom Sullivan.
Mr. Blue: Does he have something to do with martial arts?
Mr. White: He owns a karate studio.
Mr. Pink: He did. I don’t think he has in many years. Now he’s a Cirrus pilot.
Mr. Orange: That’s pretty impressive.
Mr. Pink: I know him and I used to think of him as a pretty reasonable man. So I’ll vote for Tom Sullivan.
Mr. White: Really.
Mr. Pink: I’ve talked to him 50 times, never thought of him as unreasonable or unintelligent. I will confess they were all a long long time ago.
Mr. Orange: If you watch his video on PBS, he’s gone batshit crazy, like Michelle Bachmann. His campaign speech is a chat list of right wing talking points. Second Amendment! Crime! Marxists!
Mr. Pink: Next.
Mr. Orange: Art Johnston versus Liz Olson. Now we in the alternative press used to cheer on Art Johnston, but …
Mr. Pink: He thinks outside the box and he’s a critical thinker. He might have only gone Republican because the DFL spot was spoken for. He likes to ask questions and he’s not afraid to be unpopular.
Mr. Orange: I saw him at the Pence rally and he and I were the only ones wearing masks.
Mr. Pink: For St. Louis County Board there’s Ashley Grimm and Joel Macor.
Mr. Orange: Ashley Grimm works for Damiano Center. That’s cool. Joel Macor is a keep-your-taxes down candidate, that’s his main thing.
Mr. Blue: What about Wisconsin stuff?
Mr. Pink: For Wisconsin you also have Tricia Zunker and Tom Tiffany.
Mr. Blonde: Tricia’s a Democrat, she’s also a tribal judge.
Mr. Blue: And Tiffany’s a stinking piece of shit.
Mr. Blonde: He’s horrible.
Mr. Pink: Well, that was really diplomatic, Mr. Blue. Is that unanimous for Tricia Zunker?
Mr. Blonde: Better be.
Mr. Pink: What about Milroy and Keith Kern?
Mr. Blonde: You want Milroy. He might be in trouble, he’s not acting like it, but I think there’s an awful lot of Kern signs and he’s a nice kid. Milroy’s thing is, who the hell put him up to it? Robin Vos, probably.
Mr. Pink: Robin’s boss?
Mr. Blonde: The assembly speaker.
Mr. Pink: I think that’s the only race with any interesting competition. There’s also the question, shall the city of Superior establish a city administrator position and a part time mayor?
Mr. Orange: Does that have something to do with the whole soap opera about the mayor and …
Mr. Blonde: Yes.
Mr. Pink: Trying to reduce his power?
Mr. Blonde: I’m inclined to be against it because of the whole (Mayor Jim) Paine thing. On the other hand Jim did bring part of it on himself.
Mr. Pink: Often I like the idea of youth-in-government, but youth-and-reckless seem to go hand in hand with Mayor Paine.
Mr. Blonde: He’s not that bad. He did better getting snow off the streets than Emily did. Way better.
Mr. Pink: He doesn’t have a little complicating factor called hills.
The final tally
Biden/Harris (D) 5
Trump/Pence (R) 0
Tina Smith (DFL) 5
Jason Lewis (R) 0
MN U.S. Representative District 8
Quinn Nystrom (DFL) 4
Pete Stauber (R) 1
MN State Senator District 3
Tom Bakk (DFL) 5
Christopher Hogan (R) 0
MN Senator District 6
David Tomassoni (DFL) 5
Jon J. Moren (R) 0
MN State Senator District 7
Jen McEwen (DFL) 4
Donna Bergstrom (R) 1
MN State Senator District 11
Michelle Lee (DFL) 5
Jason Rarick (R) 0
MN State Representative District 3B
Mary Murphy (DFL) 5
Andrew Hjelle (R) 0
MN State Representative District 6A
Julie Sandstede (DFL) 5
Robert Farnsworth (R) 0
MN State Representative 6B
David Lislegard (DFL) 5
Julie Buria (R) 0
MN State Representative District 7A
Jennifer Schultz (DFL) 4
Tom Sullivan (R) 1
MN State Representative District 7B
Liz Olson (DFL) 4
Art Johnston (R) 1
St. Louis County Commissioner District 3
Ashley Grimm (DFL) 5
Joe Macor (R) 0
State Representative District 11A
Mike Sundin (DFL) 5
Jeff Dotseth (R) 0
WI U.S. Representative District 7
Tricia Zunker (D) 5
Tom Tiffany (R) 0
WI State Representative District 73
Nick Milroy 5
Keith Kern (R) 0
Primary Election Day