I continued my western states tour this week with a visit to Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition to some great meetings that are helping to build our electoral work and the No Soldier Left Behind campaign, I also got to enjoy a summer thunderstorm, something I grew up with in New England but is a rarity in the Bay Area.
Minnesota is yet another location for some hot races in the congressional elections this year. I started out my trip meeting with Democratic congressional candidate Ashwin Madia. Madia is running against Erik Paulsen to fill the open seat vacated by Republican Jim Ramstad. Madia and I had a good discussion about some of the major foreign policy challenges the new Congress will face, including promoting diplomacy and peace in Iraq and Iran, and stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Both candidates reported this week that they each raised more than $600,000 last quarter, so this is going to be a highly competitive and closely watched race.
I also enjoyed some kamikaze cakes (pancakes with blueberries, bananas and walnuts in them) with Matt Fuehrmeyer, Research Director for Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken. I shared information and resources on our issues and talked about the kind of action our supporters would like to see from the next Congress. Franken will also have a tough race against incumbent Senator Norm Coleman (R), though things will be a little smoother for him now that Jesse “The Body” Ventura has decided not to launch and independent bid for the seat.
One of the highlights of my trip was meeting with Peace Action West supporters Ann and her husband Stephan in Minneapolis. It was a great opportunity to share more about Peace Action West and political organizing on a one on one basis. I was inspired by Ann’s enthusiasm and willingness to hit the streets and organize in her community. Ann will be organizing congressional lobby meetings for our upcoming week of action and gathering signatures on our open letter to the next president, so Minneapolis folks stay tuned for more activity in your community.
And now, a day of rest before I hop on a plane again to go to Washington, DC for Peace Action’s National Lobby Day to put some pressure on the members of Congress we already have to do their part.