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Highway 53 revisited

Former Minnesota state senator Doug Johnson was a powerful and long-time DFL (Democratic) legsislator from Cook on Minnesota’s Iron Range. He’s a party-line voter, but he has announced that he is supporting incumbent Minnesota Seantor Norm Coleman against Al Franken this year. The Mesabi Daily News reports:

“I’m strongly supporting U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman for re-election, the only Republican I will have voted for in more than 40 years as an eligible voter,” Johnson said in a telephone interview late last week. “I’ve never been a ticket splitter before, but the problems on the Range, state and country are too severe to just stick with one political party. I’m also strongly supporting Barack Obama for president and Jim Oberstar for Congress from the 8th District and have long admired Amy Klobuchar, our other current U.S. senator who is not up for re-election.”

Johnson said he is basing his decision for Coleman and not Democratic nominee Al Franken or Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley on temperament and who would be better for jobs in rural areas such as the Iron Range.

“Norm Coleman has a passion on issues without getting angry at the opposition. This way, Norm can work across party lines and get things done for the Range and state, similar to what I used to do in the Legislature. Al Franken appears passionate but angry. And if you go to Washington angry you might as well stay home as you won’t get anything done,” Johnson said.

Relentless negative advertising has taken a toll on Senator Coleman’s support and made the Minnesota race competitive. It appears that the Franken/Democratic/union negative advertising against Senator Coleman hasn’t done anything yet to increase support for Al Franken. Franken remains a particularly weak candidate in rural Minnesota. Nevertheless, Doug Johnson’s endorsement of Norm Coleman is a somewhat surprising and potentially significant development in the race.

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