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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: 'The End' for the Beltrami County DFL

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Bemidji Pioneer by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bemidji Pioneer. To submit a letter, email letters@bemidjipioneer.com or mail it to Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.

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Yet again another election cycle goes by, and again we have a landslide loss here in the Beltrami DFL. With hometown losses echoing across the region, Bemidjians like Reed Olson and Erika Bailey-Johnson wrapping down their campaigns in similar empty congratulatory tones of defeat. The only wins came from statewide candidates, whose wins could be attributed to the denser population with the metro area voters.

This defeat is nothing new to the Beltrami DFL’ers, who have seen more losses than wins for the past decade, losing their last seat held by state Rep. John Persell in 2020. Two years prior, the 30-year legacy and political machine of U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson was defeated. Crunching the voter-turn out released by the Minnesota Secretary of State from 2000 to 2020, a two-decade-long pattern can be seen of the GOP gaining new voters, as the DFL fought to maintain their long-term DFL families engaged.

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In 2020, after the Beltrami DFL came together to do a campaign autopsy, Chair Curtiss Hunt and Mike Simpkins, a 30-year campaign consultant and board member, gas lite the body on the great work as they presented maps and presentation of the numbers glorifying the small gains. Gains that numbers pulled from the work of the Indigenous organizers and politicians like the Bemidji Councilor Audrey Thayer, whose opponent was supported by the local board.

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In 2022, the Beltrami DFL handpicked candidates by the Peterson Machine and Mike Simpkins selected Indigenous candidates of Alan Roy and Erika Bailey-Johnson. Both candidates had mixed reactions from members of their communities, yet loyalty to the party’s leadership.

Roy’s comfort around corporate interests and Bailey-Johnson’s harmful opinion article as she returned from Standing Rock lingered in the minds of Water Protectors and local Indigenous communities. Both candidates were hindered by party talking points while stumping for Tar-Sand Tim Walz.

This loss is on the party leadership, those two decade-plus party delegates who appoint party sweethearts over viable and inspirational campaigns. We need to change course, and we need to do it fast before the 2024 cycle.

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The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Bemidji Pioneer by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bemidji Pioneer. To submit a letter, email letters@bemidjipioneer.com or mail it to Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.