6th District Dems endorse Clark to run against Bachmann

Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud
Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud,has been endorsed by Democrats in the 6th Congressional District to challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann in the November election. She won the endorsement over the other DFLer in the race, Maureen Reed.
MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire

Democrats in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District put their chips on state Sen. Tarryl Clark on Saturday, betting that a rising state lawmaker will have what it takes to beat conservative icon Michelle Bachmann.

Clark won the party endorsement at a union hall in Blaine, easily besting Dr. Maureen Reed, a former Independence Party candidate for lieutenant governor. Clark and Reed will face each other again in an August primary.

"We want to send Michele Bachmann to the career which she seems to be destined for - a career on Fox News," Clark told convention attendees.

Democrats face a tough slog against Bachmann, a star of conservative protests in Washington and frequent guest on TV talk shows.

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The 6th District is Minnesota's most conservative, wrapping around the northern half of the Twin Cities and stretching west past St. Cloud. Bachmann, a Republican seeking a third term, has bedeviled 6th District Democrats since she first ran and won in 2006.

"We will be no longer embarrassed in our state by someone who makes a mockery of serious public debate," said Buzz Snyder, a party activist who introduced Clark.

Clark and Reed each claimed to have a better shot at unseating Bachmann.

Dr. Maureen Reed
Dr. Maureen Reed says she will run in the DFL primary in the 6th Congressional District, despite losing the party endorsement to Tarryl Clark on Saturday.
MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire

Reed, a former health care executive and University of Minnesota regent, said she can appeal to swing voters as a political outsider. Clark said that approach has been tried before by Democrats who have lost.

Bachmann beat child safety advocate Patty Wetterling in 2006 and former state transportation commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg in 2008.

Clark, an attorney, said she would lean on the Democratic apparatus to build support among voters. She is serving her second term in the state Senate, where she is an assistant majority leader.

A former lobbyist for nonprofit groups, Clark represents a St. Cloud district that supported Democrat Barack Obama two years ago. Republicans already are making an issue of her voting record, particularly on taxes.

Clark said she hopes Reed will reconsider her decision to run in the primary. Reed wasn't biting.

"On to the primary," Reed said. "We know that primary voters are a very different group of people than the people who attend the endorsement process."

The 6th District covers all or most of Anoka, Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, Washington and Wright counties.

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