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GOP defends its mailer on drunk driving law

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The Republican Party of Minnesota is defending it use of a campaign mailer that has been denounced by Minnesota House DFL leaders and anti-drunk driving advocates.

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The mailer, which has been showing up in several competitive House districts, accuses DFL incumbents of letting “dangerous drunk drivers get back on the road.” It refers to legislation passed earlier this year to allow convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlock devices in their cars.

In a news release today, state GOP officials said the law “weakens penalties for people convicted of causing catastrophic damage to other people while driving drunk and lets them back on the road a whole year sooner.”

The release also accused the DFL of using “sensational imagery” and “disgusting content” in mailings against Republican candidates. GOP leaders said the DFL mailings depict a candidate holding a weapon and breaking into a home, a clenched fist in front of a cowering child and a person sharpening a straight razor.

They attached these small, close-up shots of parts of the mailings, not the full documents:

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The Republican response followed a House DFL news conference on the ignition interlock criticism. Jon Cummings, the founder of Minnesotans for Safe Driving, told reporters that the GOP ad wrongly politicizes a bipartisan issue. He said ignition interlocks are making Minnesota roads safer.

“Nobody has to die from this,” Cummings said. “We’ve got an initiative in Minnesota called TZD, Toward Zero Deaths, and we’re heading that way. The last think we want to do is turn around and go back the other way. To use this for political gain is just plain wrong.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving also supports the interlock law.

Republicans have not yet responded to criticism of their separate mailing about recent changes in the state expungement law.