Expanding the field
With former gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer being the first Republican to join the US House race for MN Congressional District Six, it was hard to imagine anyone could top his grand entrance. Having lost by a scant 0.5% in a state wide race in 2010 (but securing an 18-point margin of victory in CD6), Emmer was by far the favorite given his name recognition (co-hosting a morning drive-time radio show has only enhanced that) and fundraising prowess. This hardly went unnoticed by other potential candidates, as the likes of former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, state senators Michelle Benson & Branden Peterson and state representatives David Fitzsimmons & Peggy Scott declined to jump in to the race. In fact, Koch even went so far as to endorse Emmer before he officially made his announcement last week.
But as of yesterday morning, Emmer now has one opponent for the GOP nomination.
The chair of Anoka County's Board of Commissioners is the second Republican to announce a run for Congress in the state's most GOP-leaning district, where Michele Bachmann has decided not to seek re-election.I've said from the outset that it's a very good thing for frontrunner Emmer to be pushed a bit. And given that CD6 is an R +10 district, both candidates will try to outflank each other on the political right.
"It's time to change things in Washington, and my record in Anoka County shows that I am uniquely qualified to get the job done," said Rhonda Sivarajah, 47, of Lino Lakes, who has been on the board since 2003 and chair since 2011.
Sivarajah, who made her announcement Wednesday morning in the auto repair shop of a supporter in Ham Lake, said the key difference between her and Emmer is he's been talking about conservative principles but "I've actually been able to implement them and get things done and deliver real results."Also, the Emmer-Sivarajah matchup is somewhat of a deja vu pairing as Sivarajah was the Lt. Gov. running mate to Marty Seifert in 2010. It was Seifert who was Emmer's top challenger for the GOP endorsement that year. I don't know how much (if at all) that will be a factor. Since Seifert is a resident of CD7, a possible endorsement of Sivarajah may not mean a whole lot amongst CD6 constituents.
She also pledged to be similar ideologically but less high-profile than Bachmann, a national lightning rod for criticism from the left and accolades from the right.
"I can tell you that you probably would have a pretty dull life, as media. I think that that really is the difference. I think we have a lot of the same core beliefs, I think the difference is maybe in the approach," Sivarajah said.
As a conservative living in CD6, I personally welcome more quality candidates to this race. Again, since this district is solidly red, there's no reason to have to "settle" for a particular ideology or personality type. Admittedly, that is a welcome change of pace.
I guess this means I can add another name to the roster of potential guests for my radio show. That too is a serendipity!