In the Spotlight

News & Features
Pols Hit the Road Running
By Michael Khoo
June 5, 2000
Part of MPR's Campaign 2000 coverage
Click for audio RealAudio 3.0

DFL candidates for the U.S. Senate aren't missing a beat as they turn their attention from the weekend convention to the September primary contest. Endorsed candidate Jerry Janezich and rival Rebecca Yanischwere out shaking hands and Mike Ciresi and Mark Daytonwill begin criss-crossing the state later this week.

Wellstone and Janezich
Jerry Janezich (right) consults with U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone shortly before the start of a Capitol rally for Janezich.
Photo: Bob Collins
CHISHOLM STATE SENATOR Jerry Janezich is moving quickly to capitalize on his success at the DFL convention Rochester. Janezich beat out six contenders to capture the DFL endorsement, but despite clinching the party's seal of approval, Janezich still faces three Democratic challengers eager to unseat incumbent Republican Rod Grams. Standing on the steps of the state Capitol, Janezich told supporters and party loyalists the endorsement would carry him through the fall primary.

"All of you are here. What is that going to cost somebody? We were on the front page of every paper the last two days. That's going to cost somebody money. This endorsement has more value than people think. Just in the last two days it's given me value."

The Janezich campaign is eager to ride their momentum coming of out the state convention and will spend this week on a statewide tour to build on its success. Janezich and former State Auditor Mark Dayton are the only two primary contenders who've held elected office, and Janezich says he'll drive that point home.

"Everybody in the primary can talk about where they've been and what they've done. I've done it. I've worked in this building. I've worked in that building. I've worked in court houses. I know what government does and I believe in it and I've been a part of it. I've been bringing people to consensus a long, long time. And I believe that that's big."

A spokeswoman for the Dayton campaign says the candidate and his advisors are developing a post-convention strategy, and will likely begin a more public effort later this week, perhaps focused on campaign-finance reform. Meanwhile, Twin Cities businesswoman Rebecca Yanisch kicked off a self-described statewide health care tour with a visit to the Park Elder Center in Minneapolis. where 78-year-old Novella Sweeney told the candidate she is concerned about the rising cost of prescription drugs.

During the roundtable discussion, Yanisch unveiled three proposals designed to keep drug costs down. She would allow seniors to form drug-buying cooperatives, which she says would give them more leverage in negotiating lower prices. Yanisch also said pharmaceutical companies that benefit from government-funded research and development dollars should be prohibited from selling drugs in the U.S. at prices higher than they're sold elsewhere. And she said HMOs should be required to cover any necessary drug prescribed by a physician, and not just those medications on the HMO's list of approved drugs. Yanisch says her focus on health care is outgrowth of her own experiences as a young, single mother.

"I remember when my little girl, when she was little and we didn't have health insurance, I was choosing between putting food on the table or paying the doctor bills," she said. "And in our nation right now, with this much wealth, we shouldn't have to be making those kind of decisions."

The Yanisch campaign is moving onto the airwaves as well with a 30-second spot emphasizing her committment to health care and children's issues.

The fourth primary contender, trial lawyer Mike Ciresi, is also running radio and TV advertisements this week. A spokesman says Ciresi will join the other candidates on the campaign trail. He says Ciresi will begin a statewide tour of his own, perhaps focusing on the possibility of a Northwest Airlines merger.