Saying “it is clear that I would not win the DFL endorsement through the caucus process,” Mary Lawrence ended her mostly self-funded million dollar campaign for Minnesota’s only open congressional seat.
The first indication that Lawrence might pull out came this morning. She was scheduled to debate the other well-funded candidate in the race, Angie Craig, as well as the recent entry to the race Roger Kittelson this weekend. However, an email from the Craig campaign early today complained that Lawrence was still not willing to confirm she would appear at the debates. An email from Lawrence announcing the end of her candidacy came a few hours later.
In a previous debate Lawrence would not commit to abiding by the DFL endorsement and left open the possibility of running in a primary. “While I wholeheartedly believe that I could win the Primary, and go on to win the General,” Lawrence wrote today, “this pursuit would deeply divide and harm our party. That is something that I cannot do in good conscience. I am a Democrat, and I am a physician. I have sworn the Hippocratic Oath: ‘First, do no harm.’ To this end, I have decided to end my campaign.”
The possibility of Lawrence not abiding by the DFL endorsement had irked some DFL activists who complained about it on Facebook. Minnesota’s March 1st caucuses and resulting endorsement process are largely run by activists. Craig had also secured the endorsement of more than 55 DFL elected officials and labor organizations.
Craig issued a statement praising Lawrence for her contributions to the race. “Dr. Lawrence’s entire adult life has been about giving back to the community, whether she was working at the University of Minnesota, at the VA caring for our nation’s veterans, or in political life. It’s been a pleasure getting to know her these last few months on the campaign trail, and her presence in this race certainly made me a stronger candidate.”
A spokesperson for Craig’s campaign said he expect this weekend’s scheduled debates in Prior Lake and Hastings with Craig and Kittelson to still go on as planned.
Kittelson plans to stay in.
“I thought she would be in it for the long haul,” said Kittelson of Lawrence’s announcement. He said Lawrence and her husband are “good people” and he “wishes them the best.” Kittelson plans to stay in the race through the DFL endorsing convention and through November should he get the endorsement. But he will not run in a primary should Craig win the DFL endorsement.
Kittelson admits that Craig has an edge in organization and financing. Kittelson mostly runs his own campaign with the help of a few volunteers and has raised a small amount of money compared to Craig. “She’s got a lot of money,” Kittelson told The UpTake. “But that doesn’t intimidate me.”
Kittelson believes that he will attract support at the caucuses because he opposes foreign wars, is against the Trans Pacific Partnership and supports single-payer health care or Medicare for all. He says we “don’t need the health insurance industry,” and looks forward to debating Craig on that topic.
Lawrence’s announcement may scuttle a January 19 DFL debate at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey school. The event is at noon and Kittelson says he works during the day and won’t be able to attend, leaving Craig as the only available candidate.
On the Republican side, Rep. John Kline is not running which has attracted a field of five candidates — former talk show host Jason Lewis, former state Senator John Howe, former state Representative Pam Myhra, David Gerson (who ran against Kline two years ago) and a newcomer to the race, David Benson-Staebler. Three of the candidates — Myhra, Howe and Lewis are scheduled to debate at the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute on January 21.