In Minnesota's sprawling 6th District, the battleground may be TV
October 14, 2004
St. Paul, Minn. — The candidates in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District have been running a mostly low-key campaign over the last few months. But the two are starting to tussle over security issues with the hope that it will get them votes in the district that encompasses St. Cloud, the northern Twin Cities suburbs and several eastern suburbs.
Congressman Mark Kennedy has been running an ad in recent weeks suggesting he's tougher on the war on terror. In the ad, he and an unknown woman suggest his opponent, DFLer Patty Wetterling, is not as strong on the issue.
"It's wrong for some suggest that we should not have fought in Afghanistan or that we would be safer with Saddam still in power," the ad says.
Wetterling says she was offended by the ad and calls it untrue. She says she supports the war in Afghanistan and supports the overall war on terror. On the issue of the war in Iraq, Wetterling says she would like to see broader international support for the war.
Wetterling says the voters in the 6th District won't believe the recent accusations against her.
"They know me. You know me. I'm Patty and I've been one of you and I think that they're trying to create somebody else that's not me. You know who I am and you know what I stand for and you know my effectiveness," she says.
Wetterling has wide name recognition across the state because of her child advocacy work. Her son, Jacob, was abducted in 1989 and has never been found. Her name recognition and strong fundraising has made Minnesota's 6th one of the most competitive congressional races in Minnesota.
Kennedy says the ad is within bounds because Wetterling has sought and received the support from the liberal organization MoveOn.org. Several members of the group opposed the war in Afghanistan. Furthermore, he says MoveOn members donated more than $60,000 to the Wetterling campaign before June 30.
Kennedy says Wetterling shouldn't be taking money from an organization if she doesn't support its message.
"The opposition to Afghanistan is a core of their coming together as an organization and they have continued to oppose an aggressive execution of the war on terrorism to keep us safe," according to Kennedy.
The Wetterling campaign says Kennedy's conclusion requires a leap of logic. They say just because an organization endorses a candidate doesn't necessarily mean the candidate supports the organization's every position. And, in fact, it's not uncommon for candidates to oppose even specific planks in their party platforms.
The two candidates are also trying to showcase their accomplishments regarding homeland security. The Minnesota Professional Firefighters has announced its endorsement of Kennedy. The union of firefighters, paramedics and dispatchers is an organization that also endorsed Democratic Sen. John Kerry for president.
Union President Mike Stockstead says Kennedy has been a strong advocate on behalf of firefighters.
"When a person like Mark stands with us, like he has done, especially when he gets pressure from the business community or other factions that are opposing our legislation. When he still stands with us, there's no doubt about it. We'll continue to stand with him," Stockstead said.
But Wetterling has also been touting her public safety accomplishments. The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association endorsed her earlier this year. She's also running a television advertisement featuring police officers and crime prevention advocates.
Both candidates are expected to travel the district extensively in the coming weeks with the hopes of winning over the critical swing voters in places like Anoka County. The two are also scheduled to meet in a debate in St. Cloud on Saturday.
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