Information about the Democratic Party candidates running in the special senate election
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A Quick Look At The 6 DFL Candidates in the Minnesota Primary Part 3: Senate Special Election

The best way to engage in democracy is to know who you're voting for.


The Minnesota primary is coming up soon; August 14th, to be exact. Despite its importance in the democratic process, primary election don't see anywhere close to the turnout that the actual general elections do. In the 2016 Minnesota primary, only 7.42% of eligible Minnesotan's turned up to decide who would be appearing on the ballot in November. In my opinion, the primary election is just as important, if not more important, than the general election. While the general election essentially decides which party wins, the primary election decides what face the party will actually take on in the coming years. I think these primary elections would see higher turnouts if people knew who the candidates were, so I've decided to compile all the information I can find on the candidates of the DFL party. I'm choosing to concentrate solely on the Democratic party because a) even focusing on only one party is a lot of information to cover, and b) that's the party I support. While I have already chosen the candidates I am planning to support this week, I will not disclose who they are and will do my best to convey information about the individual candidates with as little bias as possible.

All the information in the articles will be taken from either the candidates' own websites and/or Minnesota news sources. Varying lengths in the candidate descriptions is not meant to convey any kind of bias or favor, I am simply presenting the information the candidates have made public through reputable sources. In order to remain as accurate to the source material as possible, some of the candidate descriptions are structured differently, as I have tried to model them after the candidates' websites.

In this last article, we'll take a look at the Minnesota DFL candidates for the 2018 special primary election, meant to fill the vacancy left by former senator Al Franken.

1.) Ali Chehem Ali


  • A progressive Democrat
  • Grew up in Djibouti, Africa and has lived in the U.S. for 20 years


  • Putting an end to costly and lethal wars perpetuated by politicians of both parties
  • Putting an end to the murder of black and brown people at home and abroad
  • Ensuring health insurance for all
  • Ending sexual assault in the workplace
  • Providing equal pay for all genders
  • Put in place a modern and sustainable energy system
  • Providing free college education.
  • Invest in universities for research
  • Wean ourselves off fossil fuels
  • Promote research into sustainable alternative energy sources and encourage energy conservation in the home
  • Promote green panel technology and wind turbine generation of electricity
  • End the recent tax cuts for the wealthy
  • Access this candidate's website here.

2.) Gregg A. Iverson

Star Tribune

  • Served in the Air Force in Vietnam
  • Work in pre-highway design for the Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Teaches for the Anoka-Hennepin School District
  • Key platforms include smarter spending with lower taxes, bringing troops home and a national flat tax
  • Access this candidate's profile here.

3.) Nick Leonard

Nick Leonard for Senate

  • Longtime lawyer and activist for civil rights and small businesses
  • A progressive Democrat
  • Endorsed by Our Revolution MN


  • Equal pay for equal work and zero tolerance for laws and policies that enable discrimination, harassment or oppression
  • Increasing wages, fair taxation and support for small business
  • Support for the Paris Accord
  • Universal Health Care as a fundamental right
  • Access to free college, as well as student loan relief
  • Fair and compassionate border laws
  • Access this candidate's website here.

4.) Richard W. Painter


  • Two-and-a-half-years as George W. Bush's chief White House ethics lawyer
  • Author of books and articles on government ethics reform and campaign finance reform
  • S. Walter Richey Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Has worked in several organizations dedicated to campaign finance reform, also served as vice-chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
  • Has crafted his own detailed Ethics Reform Package called "No Person Above the Law" to address corruption
  • To address fiscal responsibility, Painter would replace the Trump tax plan, eliminate expensive handouts to big corporations and fight to achieve a balanced budget
  • Wants better regulation of the financial sector
  • Advocates for free and fair trade, respect for the environment (clean energy) and protecting America from foreign dumping
  • Will resist tariffs from the federal government that hurt farmers
  • To address the disastrous role money plays in election today, Painter wishes to introduce legislation ensuring complete transparency of money in politics and to overturn Citizens United
  • Supports Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all single-payer healthcare bill
  • Opposed to any discrimination based on gender, race or self-identity; support women's right to complete control over their own bodies, as well as access to convenient sexual health resources
  • Access this candidate's website here.

5.) Christopher Lovell Seymore Sr.


  • Website says he is running for Governor, but he is filed as a candidate for the special Senate election
  • Some of Seymore's previous work experience includes founder and CEO of a nonprofit, K-12 teacher, executive pastor, I.T. business founder, economic social scientist and parks and rec. assistant director.
  • Campaign Promises:
    • 100% funding of public education
    • Decreasing the number of at-risk youth in Minnesota
    • A new option for post-high school education: 2-year I.T./trade school.
    • Decreasing poverty in Minnesota
    • Single-payer healthcare
    • Will advocate for the legalization and funding of the marijuana industry
    • A $32 Billion investment package to fuel job creation projects, particularly the funding of jobs in information technology
    • Championing legislative agendas of the people, not the parties
  • Access this candidate's website here.

6.) Tina Smith

Star Tribune

  • The current incumbent Minnesota senator, filling the vacancy of previous senator Al Franken. Before then, Tina Smith was Chief of Staff, then Lieutenant Governor to Mark Dayton.
  • Has worked an as executive for Planned Parenthood
  • Endorsed by 21 organizations and 62 prominent political figures


  • Strengthening the Minnesota economy by investing in manufacturing and technology, growing small business, expanding agriculture and raising the state minimum wage
  • Universal Health Coverage, fighting the opioid crisis, lowering the cost of prescription drugs and expanding mental health services in schools
  • Wants to allow students to refinance their loans at lower rates and to reduce textbook costs
  • Common-sense gun reforms, such as banning the sale of bump stocks, assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
  • Creation of more affordable housing
  • Advocates equal pay and pro-choice policies for women
  • Further support for veterans
  • Standing up for LGBTQ citizens
  • Will introduce more funding to provide for projects in tribal communities
  • Protecting the environment by fighting climate change, ensuring clean water, protecting the Boundary Waters and conservation and agriculture efforts
  • Protection for DREAMERS and immigrants
  • Supports the reversal of the Citizens United court decision
  • Strengthening unions and fighting for fair trade deals
  • Access this candidate's website here.

The primary is an extremely important part of the election process, and this year, much of Minnesota's legislation is being reshuffled. There are other positions that will be on the ballot on Tuesday that I do not have the time to cover, so be sure to take a quick look online for yourself. This election could change Minnesota, so be sure to get out and vote!

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