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Meet Your CD8 DFL Candidates: 5 Big Questions with Jeff Anderson

by Tony Sterle on June 24, 2011

I recently had the opportunity to interview Jeff Anderson, current Duluth City Councilor and DFL candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s eighth district, and ask him five big questions relevant to his candidacy and the area’s future.

1. What made you decide to run?

I see the next generation of Northern Minnesota prosperity on the horizon.  That prosperity includes our children attending the best schools, growing good jobs and green jobs in an increasingly diversified economy, and making sure our senior citizens have the care and help they need to live in dignity.  Representative Chip Cravaack’s extreme Tea Party views are hindering that prosperity.  He has already threatened the security of our seniors by voting to end Medicare, and he is holding our local businesses hostage with his political antics.  I can’t and won’t stand by and watch him do this.  

As a 4th generation Iron Ranger, a veteran, a businessman, and civic leader, I have worked with the people across our district to improve the lives of our citizens.  I will use these experiences and lessons to represent us in Congress and not Big Oil and Wall Street.  

2. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing CD8 right now?

It’s jobs.  We have to grow good jobs and green jobs.  We have too many families struggling in our district.  I will stand with our middle class families when it comes to jobs while my opponent Chip Cravaack is playing games with the job creators in our district.  Cravaack believes that fundamental infrastructure investments are frivolous.  In the 8th, our businesses are depending on good, safe, and reliable modes of transportation to connect our markets to the world.  Cravaack has a skewed view on what he calls, “wants versus needs.”  In Northern Minnesota safe and reliable roads, bridges, ports, rail and air transportation is a need.  

We must also look to grow our potential for mining, agriculture, and education, but more importantly we must look to tomorrow’s green jobs in energy and technology.    As the President of the Duluth City Council and the Duluth Economic Development Authority, I have worked to revitalize Duluth, and we have been successful as the city is currently going through a renaissance.  With that said, we need a partner in Washington who will help the entire district.  I will be that partner.    
3. On the flip side, what opportunities or resources do you believe CD8 has that could help us moving into the future?

Where do I start?  The 8th Congressional District is the most beautiful part of the State.  From the people, lakes, wetlands, prairies, forests, the state parks and trails and of course Voyageurs National Park, the BWCAW, and Lake Superior, our natural assets are unparalleled.  The region must continue to capitalize on our natural beauty, but there is so much more.  All across the region, businesses are investing in green technologies.  We must help these businesses thrive.  We all know the job creators in the 21st Century will be in the green jobs market.  I plan on using the same style of leadership that I have used in Duluth to partner with these businesses to grow in our Northland.  

Our strongest resource and opportunity is really the people of the 8th District.  Our job force is hardworking, educated and entrepreneurial.  With that said, it is vital that we continue to showcase and further educate our job force.  Job training facilities are being built from Pine Tech in Pine City to Mesabi Range Community and Technical College on the Iron Range.  We must continue to provide opportunities for our workforce to stay on the cutting edge of their industries with continued support to our universities, colleges, community colleges and tech schools.    

4. In an already strong field of DFL contenders, what sets you apart?

The district’s story is my story.  As a 4th Generation Iron Ranger my father, grandfather and great grandfather all worked in the mines.  I know the challenges families face up here because I lived it.  When my Dad lost his job at the mine when I was a kid we struggled to get by.  As president of the local steelworkers, my grandpa saw firsthand the labor management negotiations and how it impacted and shaped our regions values.  

Again, as a veteran, public servant, and businessman I have worked with both labor and business in our district.  I have formed coalitions to keep our communities, workers and businesses moving forward.      

I have lived my whole life in the 8th Congressional District.  I remember as a kid dreaming of moving to the big city – Duluth.  At the age of 19 I moved to Duluth to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth (this year’s Hockey and Football National Champions).  Since then I have been a civic leader working on various community organization boards and have been a successful businessman.  These experiences living, working and worshiping in the district give me the background to truly represent the district the way it deserves to be – one of us, for us.      

5. CD8 includes many different areas, cultures, and economic interests, what skills do you bring to the table that will help you represent such a diverse place?

The 8th does include many different cultures, economic interests and environmental factors.  Some of the challenges in Isanti are far different from the challenges in International Falls.  

We need leadership that will roll up their sleeves, work hard and work together to get things done. This is what I’ve done all my life. It’s what I’ve done on the Duluth City Council and as a businessman and it’s what I’ll do as your Congressman.

I have roots across this district – from family on the Iron Range to Duluth to Moose Lake and the Brainerd Lakes Area.  I’ve grown up here, I’ve seen the ups and I’ve seen the downs.  This is a much needed perspective for our Congressman to be able to effectively represent us.  I’m the only one in this race who can bring that perspective to Congress.

If you would like to learn more about Jeff’s candidacy, visit his website at  You can also add him as a friend on Facebook or twitter @jeffandersonmn or email him at

(As always, find this interview and other articles at my second home http://www.alittlebitofliberal…

Dan June 24, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Anderson seems like a really good candidate.  This story (and his website), however, do not mention the fact that he is openly gay.  In a perfect world (or in south Minneapolis) that would be irrelevant, of course.  How is that going to play out in the 8th district?    

jack June 25, 2011 at 3:55 am

And I’m still waiting for Obama’s website to tell me he is black.  And furthermore, I disregard any news piece on him that doesn’t state that either.  

I also re checked Betty’s and Keith’s website and I couldn’t find a thing about them being divorced.  I’ve been waiting on that one for years.  For some reason they never bring it up in their speeches either.  

So in hind site, good point Dan.  We should all run on non issues and only campaign on personal lives.    

Now if you are implying it will be a factor in the 8th, perhaps you should look around up there.  In Duluth there were 2 openly gay city councilors and 1 gay state rep, on the Range there are 2 openly gay city councilors and in the west the openly gay state senator was just recently beat in a primary.  Get over it.  The 8th voted for a woman in ’06 (Klobuchar), a black man in ’08 (Obama) and they can/will elect a gay man in ’12 (Anderson).  

Dan June 25, 2011 at 9:08 am

At various times in the past, being divorced, or being a woman, or being black made it difficult for candidates to get elected, at least in some districts and for some offices.  Over time attitudes changed, and those things became less and less of an issue.  The same is true for being gay, which also is becoming less and less of an issue.  The reason I raise the question here, though, is that LGBT rights are decades behind those other issues.  The civil rights battles in the 20s with women and 50s and 60s with racial minorities are occurring just now with regard to LGBT rights.  Its going to happen, but we aren’t there yet.  Minnesota may well enact a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and I can almost guarantee that it will pass in the 8th district.  Duluth is only a small part of the 8th, and that openly gay legislator you reference came out only after being elected, and lost his election solely because of his sexual orientation.  

The biggest problem I have with the DFL in general is the inability to consider the weaknesses in its candidates.  No one ever wants to say the emperor has no clothes.  In a district like the 8th, which is nominally Democratic, but really blue-collar/union Democratic, Anderson’s sexual orientation is the elephant in the room.  I hope you are right that its a non-issue, but I would like to do a little better than just hoping for the best.  I don’t think you can have an honest discussion of Anderson’s viability as a candidate without talking about the fact he is gay.  I don’t think that any of the handful of openly gay members of congress are able to avoid the issue in their campaigns, and they are mostly from districts that are much more Democratic.  

I’m not saying Anderson can’t win.  I am asking if he can.  I don’t live in the 8th (I live in St. Paul where being gay really is a non-issue) but I am concerned about the district because its our best pick-up opportunity in the state.  I expect that I will be sending money that way, but if the reassurance I get about what I think is a legitimate concern is simply “get over it” I’ll send it to Walz or somewhere more productive.  

bricklyjohn June 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm

As someone who has had the opportunity to meet and speak with Jeff he is a genuinely hard-working public servant. He cares about the 8th district and wants to see it prosper once again. Jeff’s progressive message on the issue of jobs would be in stark contrast to Cravaack’s extreme Tea Party cut everything rhetoric. We need someone like Jeff DC fighting for the middle class and helping to grow jobs in the 8th district.  

milliejo June 25, 2011 at 8:33 am

I had the pleasure to get to know Jeff when he ran for Duluth City Council in 07. I was very impressed with Jeff on and off the campaign trail. Jeff is a true Iron Ranger. He is hardworking, passionate, and intelligent and truly wants to make lives on the range better.  My point being, he grew up on the range, he has seen and lived the challenges we all live every day. He knows how to fight for us rangers and he will do an awesome job in DC.  

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