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Yanisch Joins Senate Race
by Mark Zdechlik
February 3, 2000
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Former Minneapolis Community Development Agency head Rebecca Yanisch has entered the race for U.S. Senate, joining a group of Democrats hoping to unseat Republican Rod Grams. Yanisch is the only woman in the campaign so far and she expects that will bode well for fundraising.

FLANKED BY FAMILY MEMBERS, Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and former Secretary of State Joan Growe, Rebecca Yanisch announced her Senate bid from the atrium of the Interdistrict Downtown School, in Minneapolis.
Yanisch: I am a candidate for U.S. Senate...
Yanisch says her life experiences qualify her for a seat in the Senate. She grew up on a farm in Northwestern Minnesota. She had no health insurance when she gave birth to her daughter. She later graduated from the University of North Dakota as a single mother before leaving rural Minnesota for the Twin Cities where she worked for a housing developer, became a partner in a financial consulting firm and went on to head up the Minneapolis Community Development Agency.

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She left the MCDA two years ago. Yanisch is on leave from her current duties as a vice president with Ryan Companies, a commercial real estate developer. She says she's experienced firsthand many problems elected officials struggle to address.
Yanisch: The United States Senate should hear the voices of those who've lived through the problems of working families. It's time you hear from someone who can speak to those issues and not just from the latest poll or the latest staff report.
Yanisch joins what's become a long list of DFLers vying for Rod Grams' Senate seat. There are State Senators Jerry Janezich and Steve Kelley, attorneys David Lillehaug and Mike Ciresi and University of Minnesota physician Steve Miles. Former congressman Tim Penny has plans to enter the race later this month. U of M political science professor Steve Smith says he can't remember the last time so many qualified candidates sought a Senate nomination.
Smith: This is a potentially dangerous situation for the Democrats. Right now we have, really, several liberals stepping on each other's toes seeking the attention of their fellow Democrats and it's not at all clear who's going to emerge from that.
What is clear, says Smith, is that the large field of candidates will strain DFL financial resources, leaving incumbent Senator Rod Grams far less vunerable than if were there just one or two Democrats being showered with media attention and campaign money.

Making the matter worse, Smith says, is that some of the DFLers plan to run in the September primary regardless of who the party endorses at its state convention in early June.

Rebecca Yanisch says she hasn't decided whether she'll run in the primary if she loses the endorsement battle.
Yanisch: It looks like we are going to have a multi-candidate primary contest in September. Such a contest, of course, would probably produce a winner who has only a fraction of DFL support. It would not be a particular springboard into the general election.
Yanisch says she's already raised nearly $250,000, and has more than $200,000 on hand, putting her among the top fundraisers in the race. She says so far most of the money has come from men, many of whom are downtown Minneapolis business contacts. Staffers say she'll soon be endorsed by Emily's List, a national group that directs funds to women candidates. They estimate "Emily's List" could be worth as much as $1 million.
Jones: That puts Rebecca on a national scale and it also gives her access to national donors.
Mary Jones is the executive director of the Minnesota Women's Campaign Fund, a bipartisan group that supports female candidates who favor legalized abortion and equal rights for women. The fund has given Yanisch $5,000.

Jones say Yanisch's gender in such a high-profile race is certain to bring contributions from many Minnesota women and from women all over the country.
Jones: I think her announcement will trigger a lot of funding and a lot of media interest because she looks different. She certainly stands out from the pack.
Yanisch acknowledges the role money will likely play in her campaign.
Yanisch: The advantage of the womens' groups on a national basis is they are willing to look at it and say, "I'm willing to step up on an early basis to ensure that we have a strong woman." That's a resource that some of the candidates will not have access to.
Democrat Rebecca Yanisch, the latest entrant in Minnesota's Senate race and the only woman vying for Republican Rod Grams seat.