No Minnesotan politician has been subject to more speculation about her plans for the 2010 campaign cycle than state Sen. Tarryl Clark. While seemingly every prominent Democrat in the state lined up to announce they were mulling a bid for the governor’s office, Clark remained mum. When political chatter turned to the 6th Congressional District contest, the Senate’s assistant majority leader neither confirmed nor denied that she was eyeing a run to unseat U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann. Clark enjoyed two months of having her name bandied about on blogs and political websites, while largely keeping her mouth shut.
But last week, the game of political peekaboo came to a close when Clark filed papers establishing a campaign committee and then announced her entry into the 6th district race via an online video. On Tuesday, her fledgling campaign received a significant bump when Elwyn Tinklenberg announced that he was dropping out of the congressional contest.
“I’m sure that it was a tough decision for him,” Clark told MnIndy via cell phone after a visit to Farmfest. “We’ve been united in the desire to make sure that real representation is available for the people of the 6th district. I worked with him in the last race. I hope when he has some time he’ll be willing to come and work with me.”
Tinklenberg did not endorse either of the remaining challengers when he ended his campaign. Clark vows to abide by the DFL endorsement, a stance that will likely endear her to the party faithful. Maureen Reed, currently her only rival for party backing, has not made such a vow. Despite the intra-party battle, Clark says she intends to emphasize Bachmann’s divisive rhetoric and lack of attention to issues of importance to district’s residents.
“What I keep hearing from people is they’re worried about their jobs, they’re worried about losing their house, they’re worried about escalating health-care costs,” she said. “Those are the issues that aren’t just being addressed right now by our current representation.”
Tinklenberg’s decision to drop out of the race was partly driven by a difficult fund-raising climate. Reed, by contrast, raised an impressive $230,000 in the two months after announcing her campaign. With 49 Democrats across the country running for re-election in districts that John McCain carried during the 2008 presidential campaign, most of the emphasis will undoubtedly be on protecting currently held seats. But Clark believes she will be able to raise enough money to run a credible, effective campaign against Bachmann.
“Certainly with so many people running for governor and other things, that can be challenging,” she said. “But what I’m finding so far is that people are so excited about the possibility of having someone who will focus on creating positive solutions instead of creating controversy that they’re willing to stand up and help.”
I added the word Minnesotan in the first sentence because I think it was implied but not exactly clear.