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Ad makes waves
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The new radio ad from the Taxpayers League claims Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry will limit snowmoboling, hunting, mining and logging. The Kerry campaign says that's not true. (Image courtesy of the National Park Service)
A new ad attacking John Kerry is running on radio stations across northern Minnesota. It says if Kerry is elected president, people could lose their rights to go hunting and snowmobiling. The ad started running this week. The Kerry campaign is already saying the ads are inaccurate. Minnesota is a swing state, and the Iron Range could provide a big push for the swing.

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Image David Strom

Duluth, Minn. — The political action committee of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota created the ad. It's running on radio stations from Duluth to International Falls to Brainerd. Taxpayers League President David Strom says the ad speaks to conservative Democrats in northern Minnesota.

"There is an assumption by a lot of people that northern Minnesota is a reliable place to harvest Democratic votes," Strom says. "We think a lot of people are taking northern Minnesota for granted, and we think people vote on issues."

Strom says his group is hoping to carry Minnesota for George Bush. "And contrary to a lot of people's expectations, northern Minnesota might just provide the margin to make that happen," he says.

The ad is a minute long. Here's part of the message.

"Some people just want to tell you what to do and how to do it. Well, here in northern Minnesota, we're pretty independent. We don't like people coming around and messing with our way of life. Hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, they're part of the fabric of our lives. Mining, logging, and hospitality - that's how we make a living. We can't afford to have a Massachusetts liberal running the country..."

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Image John Edwards in Hibbing

But Democrats aren't about to concede the issue. Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards spoke this week to thousands of people at the Hibbing Memorial Arena. He drew loud applause when he told the crowd he grew up in a small town, and he and Kerry want to "preserve the rural way of life." "And that includes - and John Kerry and I will do that - making sure your rights, your ability to hunt and fish is protected, making sure that you can go into national parks and national forests and ride on a snowmobile," Edwards said.

Northeastern Minnesota has been Democratic territory for generations. But Republicans have been closing the gap. Four years ago, one in three voters in St. Louis County chose President Bush. The Republicans are hoping to lure more people into their camp. The radio ad is already attracting attention.

"It's enough to make your blood boil," says Tim Kotzian. He grew up on the Iron Range. He's a deer hunter, he rides ATVs, and he's thinking about getting into snowmobiles again.

"There are bigger issues out there than just hunting and fishing, to people in northeastern Minnesota," Kotzian says. "I think the number one issue would be the war in Iraq. And I don't believe for a minute that John Kerry is anti-hunting; I don't think he's anti-snowmobile. I think it's just a way for some people on the far right to scare people in northeastern Minnesota to think for a moment they're going to lose their guns, and that just isn't going to happen."

The Taxpayers League says it will keep the anti-Kerry ad on the air until election day.

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