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Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, tells attendees to his fundraiser Monday night that a Democratic governer needs to be elected this fall. He cited Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer as saying, "You can't be a freedom-loving American and be a Democrat." Says Persell, "That's pretty sad, that's where the state of politics has gone in Minnesota." Pioneer Photo/Brad Swenson

Persell: Elect Democrats to invest in state

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Minnesotans must elect Democrats this fall to ensure needed investments in early education and programs for the most vulnerable, says Rep. John Persell.

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"Looking after our elders and our children" is key, the Bemidji Democrat said at his fundraiser Monday night at the Bemidji Eagles Club. "We judge ourselves by how we take care of our children and elders, at least that's how I judge my life."

Minnesota needs investments "in education funding, and we need to make that be in early childhood through 12th grade and beyond," Persell said. "We certainly need to get early childhood funding in a better place, and that's an ongoing fight."

About 150 people turned out for the roast pork, wild rice, potatoes and green beans supper, which was short on speakers. Only Persell and Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, addressed the crowd. Persell said a retirement party for Rep. Mary Ellen Otrema, DFL-Long Prairie, may have competed with his event, which came together in two weeks.

Providing music was Arlen Murlgard, an old-style Country Western singer/strummer Persell met at the DFL State Convention.

Persell is a freshman seeking a second two-year term, and faces opposition in the Aug. 10 DFL primary from Mark Thorson. The November opposition is GOP-endorsed Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann.

Persell blasted Gov. Tim Pawlenty for saying in New Hampshire over the weekend that Minnesota accepted federal stimulus money because Minnesota pays more in taxes into the federal government than it receives.

"And then he turns around and tells Minnesota he's not going to take Medicaid dollars through the new health care bill," Persell said. "It's $1.4 billion that we put up less than $200 million to get. That's the tough dichotomy of thinking that goes on, and you just wonder where people are coming from."

He had similar words for Republican-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tim Emmer, whom he quoted as saying at a Mankato event, "You can't be a freedom-loving American and be a Democrat."

"It kind of makes me a little angry," Persell said. "That's pretty sad, that's where the state of affairs has gone here in politics." He describes Emmer, a fellow House member, as an obstructionist. "He didn't just talk on every bill, he talked on every amendment."

Persell said he "really gets fired up when I think about who the opponents are out there, who's leading their ticket in Minnesota and how hard we need to work to make sure we get Democrats back down there in the House and Senate and a Democrat into the governorship."

He told Democrats to vote, no matter for which of three primary contestants, "we've got to get a Democrat in there and we've got to follow this through to November."

Minnesota will have a new governor, with Republican Pawlenty not seeking a third term, he said. "We're going to have a Democrat governor, and we're going to be able to move things forward."

Olson said, as she goes around the state, she finds people who are impressed about Persell. Shortly after winning election and serving in St. Paul, Persell won accolades from members of both sides of the aisle as to how easy it was to work with him.

"Although John kind of has a down-to-earth hokey style about him that sometimes causes people not to recognize what a very talented, knowledgeable scientist he is, and that unique perspective he brings to the Legislature, has really been well appreciated," Olson said.

Olson said people also appreciate Persell's "straight-talking, forward, honest way of going about the challenges of the job of being state representative. We don't find that always in the Legislature."

She said Persell "doesn't pull any punches and lets you know where stands, but at the same time, when it comes to serving people, he's there for them no matter who they are, everywhere in our district."

Y bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

Minnesotans must elect Democrats this fall to ensure needed investments in early education and programs for the most vulnerable, says Rep. John Persell.

"Looking after our elders and our children" is key, the Bemidji Democrat said at his fundraiser Monday night at the Bemidji Eagles Club. "We judge ourselves by how we take care of our children and elders, at least that's how I judge my life."

Minnesota needs investments "in education funding, and we need to make that be in early childhood through 12th grade and beyond," Persell said. "We certainly need to get early childhood funding in a better place, and that's an ongoing fight."

About 150 people turned out for the roast pork, wild rice, potatoes and green beans supper, which was short on speakers. Only Persell and Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, addressed the crowd. Persell said a retirement party for Rep. Mary Ellen Otrema, DFL-Long Prairie, may have competed with his event, which came together in two weeks.

Providing music was Arlen Murlgard, an old-style Country Western singer/strummer Persell met at the DFL State Convention.

Persell is a freshman seeking a second two-year term, and faces opposition in the Aug. 10 DFL primary from Mark Thorson. The November opposition is GOP-endorsed Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann.

Persell blasted Gov. Tim Pawlenty for saying in New Hampshire over the weekend that Minnesota accepted federal stimulus money because Minnesota pays more in taxes into the federal government than it receives.

"And then he turns around and tells Minnesota he's not going to take Medicaid dollars through the new health care bill," Persell said. "It's $1.4 billion that we put up less than $200 million to get. That's the tough dichotomy of thinking that goes on, and you just wonder where people are coming from."

He had similar words for Republican-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tim Emmer, whom he quoted as saying at a Mankato event, "You can't be a freedom-loving American and be a Democrat."

"It kind of makes me a little angry," Persell said. "That's pretty sad, that's where the state of affairs has gone here in politics." He describes Emmer, a fellow House member, as an obstructionist. "He didn't just talk on every bill, he talked on every amendment."

Persell said he "really gets fired up when I think about who the opponents are out there, who's leading their ticket in Minnesota and how hard we need to work to make sure we get Democrats back down there in the House and Senate and a Democrat into the governorship."

He told Democrats to vote, no matter for which of three primary contestants, "we've got to get a Democrat in there and we've got to follow this through to November."

Minnesota will have a new governor, with Republican Pawlenty not seeking a third term, he said. "We're going to have a Democrat governor, and we're going to be able to move things forward."

Olson said, as she goes around the state, she finds people who are impressed about Persell. Shortly after winning election and serving in St. Paul, Persell won accolades from members of both sides of the aisle as to how easy it was to work with him.

"Although John kind of has a down-to-earth hokey style about him that sometimes causes people not to recognize what a very talented, knowledgeable scientist he is, and that unique perspective he brings to the Legislature, has really been well appreciated," Olson said.

Olson said people also appreciate Persell's "straight-talking, forward, honest way of going about the challenges of the job of being state representative. We don't find that always in the Legislature."

She said Persell "doesn't pull any punches and lets you know where stands, but at the same time, when it comes to serving people, he's there for them no matter who they are, everywhere in our district."

bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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