Democrats anoint Kent, Metzger, Ward for Woodbury-area seats
Democrats from the new Senate District 53 decided Saturday on their candidates for the Legislature: Susan Kent, JoAnn Ward and Ann Marie Metzger.
Kent, a Woodbury resident, sailed through the endorsing process on her way to challenging Sen. Ted Lillie.
"He is not representative of this district," she told delegates at the endorsing convention, held at Tartan High School in Oakdale.
Kent defeated Oakdale's John Becker for the endorsement. He said he would abide the endorsement and not force a primary election contest.
Metzger, a Woodbury resident, will challenge Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, in House District 53B, which encompasses the city's eastern two-thirds. She ran unopposed at Saturday's endorsing convention.
Ward will run in House District 53A, which comprises the western portion of Woodbury, in addition to parts of Maplewood and Oakdale. She defeated Woodbury's Mark Wackerfuss for the endorsement and will face Maplewood Republican Pam Cunningham on the November ballot.
Wackerfuss told delegates he, too, would abide the endorsement.
The local DFL field again comprises an all-female list; in 2006 and 2010, Woodbury voters saw Democrats Kathy Saltzman, Marsha Swails and Julie Bunn on the ballot.
Reclaiming seats in suburban areas like Woodbury, Maplewood and Oakdale will be critical for Democrats if they are to wrest back control of either of the two state houses.
In 2010, Republicans swept to victory in the Senate and House, unseating a Democratic-controlled Legislature. That included the pickup of three incumbent seats in the Woodbury area, where Saltzman, a Woodbury senator, Swails, a House member from Woodbury, and Bunn, a Lake Elmo representative, were ousted by Republicans.
Rep. Nora Slawik, DFL-Maplewood, said she thinks it's likely that Democrats will regain control of the House this year and said ongoing controversy running through the Senate's GOP ranks leaves a chance for that chamber to also tip back in Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party favor.
Competition for the House District 53A seat heated up last week among Democrats after Slawik, a lawmaker who was poised to run in the redrawn district, announced she would not seek re-election.
Slawik, who spoke at Saturday's convention, said there has been talk of Senate District 53 being a bellwether for the state.
"Some people are calling Senate District 53 the Ohio of Minnesota," she said, referring to the Buckeye State, which has been a signifier in recent national elections. "How this district goes is how the state will go. We are going to be a district to watch."
Slawik backed Ward in the House District 53A race.
The GOP field was decided the previous weekend, when Lillie, Kieffer and Cunningham received their party's endorsement.