THE IRON RANGE USED TO BE COMMIE CENTRAL, WITH FAR-LEFT UNIONS: Iron Range, seething at the Twin Cities, continues right turn.
Iron Range Republicans have been waiting for an election like Tuesday’s their whole lives. No, really. There hasn’t been one this good for the local GOP since Hoover.
Republican Rob Farnsworth won the open State Senate seat in the central Mesabi Range by a solid seven-point margin. This is the beating heart of the Iron Range, an erstwhile DFL bastion that delivered 40-point margins for John Kerry not that long ago.
Redistricting paired two incumbents in House District 7A, Republican Spencer Igo and DFLer Julie Sandstede. Sandstede was endorsed by the United Steelworkers and the CEO of Cleveland Cliffs, a historically rare combination. Nevertheless, Igo won by a similar seven-point margin.
In the state’s geographically biggest House seat, District 3A, Ely Mayor Roger Skraba defeated incumbent DFLer Rob Ecklund, a former Steelworkers union president, by a mere 15 votes.
Only DFL incumbent Rep. David Lislegard held on in District 7B. Despite being arguably the most pro-mining legislator in the state, Lislegard won by just three points.
And so it’s time to consider that some of this isn’t really about mining. It’s about culture.
Some years ago I fell down a research rabbit hole writing about a campaign to create a new state from the northern portions of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. This new state would be called Superior.
This was before social media, back when people would leave comments on websites. Many of the comments I saw came from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where the idea first originated. They rehashed the basic arguments: Local control for regions “forgotten” by their state capitals while keeping mining, logging and tourism revenue.
But then these comments would take a turn. At long last, in the Great State of Superior, Detroit would stop feasting on the hard-earned tax dollars of working people up north.
If you talk to people in northern Wisconsin, they complain the same way about Milwaukee. And we know how northern Minnesotans view the Twin Cities. Just look at the ads and mailers that fueled the Republican shift on the Iron Range. Voters in rural areas outside Minnesota’s big cities and regional centers rejected statewide Democrats by ever-expanding margins.
My paper on intrastate secession grows ever more timely.