NORTH MANKATO — Local Democratic leaders hope the Jan. 29 primary election in the House District 19A special election will be little more than a formality — with three non-endorsed candidates rallying around the winner of today’s DFL endorsing convention and all but ensuring that the party’s choice advances to the Feb. 12 special election.
That dream of unity appeared to be crashing when Democratic candidate Karl Johnson began airing radio ads on two Mankato stations Thursday and Friday.
Johnson’s ads on KTOE and KATO urge voters to support him in the Jan. 29 primary election. And letters to the editor of The Free Press are also encouraging Johnson supporters to turn out for the primary.
“On Jan. 29, vote for Karl Johnson — a strong voice for southern Minnesota,” one ad urges. The second ad suggests that the real decision on who should succeed Rep. Terry Morrow, the St. Peter Democrat who resigned to take a job in Chicago, will come “on Jan. 29.” The ad also appears to draw a distinction with Clark Johnson, a Minnesota State University professor and Democratic candidate: “Vote for Karl, with a ‘K.’”
But Johnson, a rural North Mankato farmer who has been active in DFL politics for years, said Friday he’s likely to suspend his campaign if another Democrat is endorsed today by party activists — provided the other three candidates make the same pledge.
“If all four of us do, I expect I will, too,” he said Friday afternoon.
As for the ads encouraging voters to support him Jan. 29 — when only he and fellow Democrats Robin Courrier, Clark Johnson and Tim Strand will be on the ballot — Johnson said he didn’t want Republican Allen Quist to have a monopoly on reaching out to voters.
“Allen Quist is getting his name out there, and I thought I should, too,” Johnson said.