“Ask Veda” is a common response on the West Range when one asks about community projects, when one has an unresolved problem or when one wants information on an issue or candidate. “Veda” is of course the founder of the Chisholm Free Press and champion of iron miners, Veda Ponikvar.
Ponikvar, the first female newspaper publisher in the United States, is arguably the most influential person on the Iron Range. She was the only newspaper publisher in Minnesota who dared speak out against the powerful mining companies and the iron miners relied heavily on her to tell the truth about what was really happening in the mines across the Iron Range. Working alongside the United Steelworkers, this daughter of a Slovenian iron ore miner played a key role in breaking the dominance of the Steel Trust, and went on to help shape the political culture of the Iron Range. Ponikvar’s opinions have influenced the development of the region, and the political careers of many, for generations and she remains a highly respected and active member of the community.
Among the many prominent DFLers who received her counsel and support were former 8th district DFL Congressmen John Blatnik and Jim Oberstar, also Chisholm natives. Known for her outspoken honesty, integrity and commitment to public service, Ponikvar does not give her endorsement lightly and never hesitates to quickly dispatch those whom she doesn’t feel are honest and won’t act in the best interests of the Iron Range. Thus her early endorsement in the 8th district congressional race is significant:
Rick Nolan is a fighter for people. He was born and raised here in the Eighth District, and he understands this mining area of Minnesota very, very well. He will always fight for the Iron Range and do whatever he can to make it prosper. Rick understands that by strengthening northern Minnesota mining, we strengthen our state and nation’s economic stability.
Nolan said he was honored by her endorsement:
Veda Ponikvar is one of the finest champions, journalists and reformers the Iron Range has ever proudly produced – quite simply the conscience of the Iron Range. When Minnesota’s legendary public servants, people like Hubert Humphrey, Fritz Mondale, Rudy Perpich, Jim Oberstar and Paul Wellstone , needed to take the political pulse of the Range and understand what people were really thinking, one of their first calls was always to Veda Ponikvar….When Veda is with you, it doesn’t much matter who’s against you. She’s demonstrated that time and again, and I could not be more pleased and honored to have her on my side in this campaign to take back the Eighth District, and help make regular people matter again in Washington.
This is the second major endorsement for Rick Nolan from the Iron Range this week. On Monday, another well-respected Iron Range leader,former State Representative Joe Begich threw his support to the former 6th district congressman, citing Nolan’s steadfast support for organized labor.
Ponikvar’s unequivocal support of Rick Nolan is sure to resonate across the Range:
I urge Iron Rangers to support Rick Nolan for the DFL endorsement to defeat Chip Cravaack in 2012, and be our next truly great, caring, hard working congressman.
When Veda talks, people listen.