That knock at the door? Probably a Minnesota legislative candidate

Ami Jimenez-Hopper, Rep. candidate in House District 57A
Ami Jimenez-Hopper, Republican candidate in House District 57A on Oct. 28, 2016.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News

With campaign season headed into its final weekend, Minnesota legislative candidates are going door-to-door hoping to close the deal with voters. The effort is especially intense for a pair of open seats in the Twin Cities suburbs.

"A lot of people vote based on the candidate and not so much for the party," Republican House candidate Ali Jimenez-Hopper said as she knocked on doors and left campaign fliers during a recent afternoon swing through neighborhoods in Apple Valley.

Republicans currently hold a 12 seat advantage in the House. Democrats would need to gain seven seats to win the majority. Hopper wants the seat to stay in GOP hands, but she knows it could go either way. So even on an afternoon when few people were home, she was door-knocking and leaving fliers.

"I've heard from many people it's a swing district, and honestly that's what I've felt at the doors," she said. "A lot of people vote based on the candidate and not so much for the party. I actually respect that, because people are more interested in what the candidate has to bring and the person's integrity and morals."

Erin Maye Quade, DFL candidate in House District 57A
Erin Maye Quade, DFL candidate in House District 57A on Oct. 27, 2016.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News

Hopper's opponent is another a first-time candidate who's also been busy knocking on doors. Democrat Erin Maye Quade is stressing issues including child nutrition, paid family leave and tighter gun laws as part of her campaign.

Quade said she agrees that Apple Valley voters are more interested in the person than political party, but she thinks the district is ready for a change.

In the western suburbs, two other first-time candidates, both with experience working for other politicians, are facing off for an open seat in the Minnesota Senate, where Democrats hold a 10-seat advantage with one vacancy. Republicans would need to gain six seats to win majority control.

The District 44 seat includes parts of Minnetonka and Plymouth and is a priority for both parties. It's also been this year's top legislative race for campaign spending by outside groups. The latest campaign finance reports showed more than $700,000 had been spent there by groups trying to influence the race.

Republican Paul Anderson and Democrat Deb Calvert are both trying to succeed Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, who stepped aside to run for Congress.

Calvert, who previously worked for DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, said she's heard a few complaints from district residents about the onslaught of campaign ads. But Calvert said she hadn't actually seen much of the material.

Paul Anderson, Rep. candidate in Senate District 44
Paul Anderson, Republican candidate in Senate District 44 on Oct. 20, 2016.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News

"I don't necessarily get pieces in the mail at my home, and I'm on the doors all day," she said. "So, unless somebody gives me something that came to them in the mail or tells me about something that was in social media or on television, I personally don't. Anecdotally, I've heard that there's been activity out here."

Deb Calvert, DFL candidate in Senate District 44
Deb Calvert, DFL candidate in Senate District 44 on Oct. 20, 2016.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News

Anderson, who previously worked on former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's staff, said he believes personal contact with voters is the best way to counter whatever negative literature might be showing up in their mailboxes.

"If you don't go visit people face-to-face, you don't have that ability to tell a different story or allow people see you and who you are, and not look at a picture and see some kind of ad and say, 'Oh, that guy is X, Y, Z,'" he said. "They get to actually see you and hear what you really believe. That's the other biggest thing that's most important to them."

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