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Republicans take air, DFL play end-of-season ground game for votes

The DFL worked their campaign ground game in the Twin Cities with an appeal to abortion-rights supporters on Saturday, while the Republicans took off with gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen delivering his “Heal Minnesota” message to the stops from Hibbing to Rochester.

Candidates from both parties worked their geographic and ideological power zones, pushing core issues to their most loyal voters as the campaign season drew to a close. Republicans are more popular in greater Minnesota while the DFL dominates in the Twin Cities. So while Jensen was touring several cities, Gov. Tim Walz was rallying voters in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Walz stopped by the “Rise for Roe” event in the parking lot of the old Sears adjacent to the State Capitol, saying “abortion services are health care, pure and simple” and that It was “terrifying to think” about how many hinges on this election.

“Once you lose a right, it’s so hard to come back,” Walz said.

Meanwhile, in a hangar at Rochester International Airport on Saturday, Jensen told a group of about 50 supporters, “We can’t sit on the sidelines this time around.”

As he has done throughout the campaign, Jensen, who has not served in the armed forces, criticized Walz’s retirement from the Minnesota National Guard after 24 years of service, just before his unit was goes to Iraq. “Minnesota doesn’t deserve quitters,” he said to applause.

During an earlier stop at St. Cloud Regional Airport, Jensen and running mate Matt Birk appeared in front of approximately 200 supporters. Some wore “Walz Failed” signs or Trump-style “Make America Great Again” caps.

Roger Zeman, 73, of Big Lake, said it was time for a “fresh start”. He said he was not a fan of Walz’s handling of the Feeding our Future pandemic fraud investigation or the riots following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“Nothing sticks with him,” Zeman said of Walz. “He’s always pointing the finger at someone else. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you make a mistake own it.”

GOP volunteer Nathan Hagemeier of St. Cloud said his biggest concern is the rise in crime. “You don’t have to be a Democrat or a Republican to know we need a change,” the 24-year-old said.

Jensen said he and Birk plan to get back on the air for a series of stops on Tuesday.

Back in St. Paul, Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum was the first speaker at the “Rise for Roe” event. She is seeking re-election to the fourth congressional district seat she has held since 2001.

“This election is really important to me because I’m fighting my grandmothers’ battles,” McCollum said, telling the dozens who were there early to have “thoughtful conversations” with friends about what’s at stake. “That’s up to us. Each one of us.”

Tara Erickson, lobbyist and organizer of the afternoon event, said the rally doubled as a fundraiser with a voluntary donation at the door. Erickson said she raised $5,000 with the first 50 entrants.

Erickson said many rights are at stake. “I don’t think they’re going to stop at reproductive freedom; they are going to opt for contraception,” she said.

Elizabeth Slagle, a St. Paul-based obstetrician and gynecologist, said “abortion is absolutely on the ballot” and access can be removed in Minnesota. “It happened at the federal level. It can happen in the state,” she said.

Kimberly Gottschalk from St. Paul brought her 10-year-old daughter to help with the St. Paul event. “These midterm elections are more important than ever,” Gottschalk said, adding that she supports Walz’s re-election. “Women have a lot at stake, like many other people.”

The event also included appearances from the Senses. Americans Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar, as well as performances by comedian Mary Mack and singer-songwriter Chastity Brown.

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