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A Message from Denny

A Message from Denny

What a couple of weeks this has been.

Our state senator resigned over sexual misconduct allegations. Governor Dayton has announced he’ll call a special election to replace him. Many people have contacted me, hoping I would consider running for the soon-to-be-open seat.

When I announced my retirement from the Minnesota House of Representatives last year after 14 years of public service, I truly believed my time to be part of elective government was over.  I always worked hard to serve my constituents as state representative and knew this commitment made sure the district was in better shape than when I arrived in 2002.

Deciding not to run for re-election was a difficult choice but one I was at peace with.  But the special circumstances and recent events that have occurred with our current state senator have compelled me to reconsider.

After much discussion with family and friends, I have decided to run to become your new senator in State Senate District 54.

It was an honor and privilege to be elected seven times to represent the good folks of District 54B in the House of Representatives. Today, I have an opportunity to serve the entire Senate District 54.

I’m excited to get back to St Paul and return trust to the office of State Senate District 54. With the Republican senate majority being a slim 34 to 33 margin, this is a very important race.  Not only is it important for our district, it also has statewide significance – which means I will need to have the resources it takes to win.

I am writing to ask for your help in raising $94,600, which is the campaign spending limit for this special election. My goal is to raise $35,000 by December 18.

I need your help more than ever.  I closed the campaign fund from my time as a State Representative which means I’m starting from scratch. The great news is that the Political Contribution Refund (or PCR) is back. Minnesotans can donate up to $100 per couple or $50 per individual to my campaign and get reimbursed from the State. (Please note this can only be used one time per year.) I am including a contribution form and information about the PCR with this letter.

I am proud to be one of very few state legislators to have never taken any PAC, lobbyist or special interest money. I’m at the Capitol to represent you and not the special interests.

Once again, I look forward to making Minnesota a better place to live, work and play.  The reality is that I can’t do it without your financial assistance. Please consider giving whatever you can.

I hope you have a great holiday season, and I hope to see you at your door in the coming weeks!

Keep in touch,

Denny

McNamara Seeks Senate Seat

McNamara Seeks Senate Seat

The waiting is over for constituents and supporters of the Republican Party for those who asked if former Representative Denny McNamera would return to public service to make a bid for the Senate seat vacated by the resignation of Senator Dan Schoen. A statement sent to KDWA radio Monday afternoon confirms that the 14 year House veteran Denny McNamara will indeed ask for the support of voters in the special election to be held in 2018. McNamara points to communications with many who feel his record will make him a strong candidate in a race that already includes DFL candidate Karla Bingham, currently a Washington County Commissioner. In a phone conversation with the candidate, he states that he is looking forward to the challenge as a Senate hopeful.

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McNamara jumps into Senate race; Bigham also running

McNamara jumps into Senate race; Bigham also running

Two former lawmakers who served together may run against one another for a return to the Minnesota Legislature.

Former state Reps. Karla Bigham, a Cottage Grove DFLer, and Denny McNamara, a Hastings Republican, are running for the Minnesota Senate following Sen. Dan Schoen’s resignation, which will be effective Dec. 15. Bigham announced last week while McNamara weighed his options over the Thanksgiving holiday and got in the race Monday, Nov. 27.

Bigham, a Washington County commissioner who served four years in the Minnesota House, declared her candidacy Nov. 22, hours before Schoen’s attorney formally announced the senator’s plan to resign following sexual harassment claims made against him.

“The public’s trust in government and specifically in the Minnesota Legislature is at an all-time low,” Bigham said. “Whether it is the stalemate between the governor and the Legislature or the incidents that led to this special election, our government has squandered the public’s trust. I want to work to restore that trust and bring back common sense.”

After opting against a bid last year for an eighth term, McNamara said he was at peace with his decision to leave elected office after 14 years. However, he added in his announcement, “the special circumstances in Senate District 54 have compelled me to reconsider.”

“Our district is hurting and is seeking a senator that puts people before politics and has a proven track record of helping our communities,” McNamara said in a statement. “I look forward to working hard on behalf of our residents, meeting with them at their doors in the coming weeks, and restoring their trust in their state senator.”

First-term Rep. Tony Jurgens, R-Cottage Grove, had been considering a Senate bid but stepped aside with McNamara’s decision to get in. Jurgens won McNamara’s seat following his retirement last year.

“I like the House of Representatives,” Jurgens said. “I’ve only been here a year. I like the constituents.”

Fellow freshman Rep. Keith Franke, R-St. Paul Park, said Monday he is still considering a Senate run.

No DFLer besides Bigham has publicly expressed interest in running.

Schoen announced his resignation, effective Dec. 15, through a statement and a news conference attended by Schoen’s attorney but not the lawmaker. The resignation came two weeks after MinnPost reported three women’s claims of sexual harassment or sexually inappropriate behavior against Schoen. Schoen has said the allegations were false or taken out of context.

“It’s just too much of a problem to represent a district with calls for his resignation from everybody when they don’t know the facts,” Schoen attorney Paul Rogosheske said in an interview.

Gov. Mark Dayton will call a special election for the Senate seat. The Legislature’s 2018 session begins Feb. 20. A special election also will be called for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, who announced he would resign Nov. 30 amid separate sexual harassment allegations.

Bigham, who served on the Cottage Grove City Council, was elected to the House in 2006 and re-elected in 2008. She and McNamara served in the House together for four years. Bigham didn’t seek re-election in 2010. She represented the northern half of the Senate district that traditionally has leaned DFL. It includes part of Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Newport and part of South St. Paul.

Bigham won election to the Washington County Board in 2014, representing south Washington County communities.

McNamara said he would be running on his record over 14 years in the House. He retired last year as chairman of the House environment and natural resources finance committee.

Republicans hold a one-vote majority in the Senate. The GOP has a 77-57 majority in the House.

Franke, a former St. Paul Park mayor who represents House District 54A, said he was considering his options.

“It’s kind of a big decision and I wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “The dust hasn’t settled.”

Franke said he’s happy in the House, but wants to do what’s best for his family and the district.

“If I could expand that, I would be excited to do so,” he said.

Schoen made the right decision to resign, Franke said.

“We need to be effective for our constituents,” he said.

With retiring McNamara’s support to run, Jurgens was elected to the House in 2016 to represent District 54B, the more conservative half of the Senate district. District 54B voters favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton 48 to 42 percent last year.

Franke won in 2016 in a House district that trends Democratic, but has been represented by a Republican before. Clinton beat Trump 46 to 43 percent in the district last year.

John Kriesel, a Cottage Grove Republican who held the seat from 2011-2013, confirmed he was not interested in running for Senate.

“I feel honored that people have reached out and asked me to consider, but I am happy at my current job and my life is good right now,” Kriesel said. “I don’t feel a need to change it.”