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Mondale Name Not Enough To Guarantee Win in Minnesota

October 15, 1990

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Ted Mondale isn’t banking on his famous name to get him elected to the Minnesota Legislature. The son of the former vice president plans to spend a record $120,000 campaigning for the state Senate.

Mondale, 33, is running against Republican incumbent Phyllis McQuaid, who questions not only his judgment but also his motives.

″We’re always hearing that people are being turned off by big-spending campaigns,″ McQuaid said. ″It makes you wonder what’s going on.″

State GOP Chairman Bob Weinholzer thinks he knows.

″Obviously, he’s in this race to eventually run for higher office,″ Weinholzer said. Mondale moved to the district only about a year and a half ago and he’s raised more than a third of his campaign money from outside Minnesota.

″It’s almost absurd,″ Weinholzer said of the out-of-state contributions. ″For a state Senate race, we’ve never seen anything like that.″

Mondale is the only state Senate candidate on the Nov. 6 ballot who did not agree to abide by a voluntary $40,669 spending limit. The current record is $93,000 spent by another Democrat in a 1986 state Senate race.

″He’s a new candidate running against an established incumbent in a district that’s marginally Republican,″ said Senate Democratic Majority Leader Roger Moe.

″He thinks he needs more, and I’m in no position to question his judgment.″

Mondale, a lawyer and lobbyist, refers to his Republican critics’ comments as the ″politics of diversion.″

″I don’t want to stay in the state Legislature all my life,″ he said. ″It is a citizen legislature, and many times incumbents stay in too long and lose touch with their constituents. If I do a good job at the Legislature ... then perhaps there would be an opportunity″ to serve in higher office.

McQuaid, 62, agreed to abide by the spending limit. But because Mondale isn’t abiding by it, McQuaid is allowed to exceed the limit and receive a public subsidy. She had raised $38,509 through August and will receive an $18,000 subsidy. Mondale had raised about $98,000 during the same period and had spent $83,360.

″There isn’t another state Senate race with a candidate who has his name ID,″ McQuaid said. ″That alone should give him a 10-point start over any other challenger.

″It’s unfortunate he’s doing this,″ she said of his campaign spending.

McQuaid says she’s pleased with the campaign outlook and that results from internal polls look ″very good″ for her. Mondale said he believes the race is close.

Mondale said the advantages of being the son of former Vice President and U.S. Senator Walter F. Mondale don’t guarantee electoral success.

″My father served this state and nation well,″ he said. ″But just being a Mondale does not win an election. I equate being the son or daughter of a famous person, or of anyone, much like being a woman in the workplace. People expect more of you, and you have to be twice as good as the other person to gain acceptance.″

Mondale said he won’t ″unilaterally disarm″ by limiting campaign spending in a system that favors incumbents. And he said he’s proud of his ability to raise money from family, friends and contacts he made while working on national political campaigns.

When the candidates aren’t talking about money, they’re often talking about experience.

McQuaid highlights her record as state senator, mayor and school board member and her involvement with community groups.

Mondale said McQuaid has been an ineffective legislator and has not proposed an agenda for the ’90s.

″I hope the comparison will be made between where I want to go and where she’s been over the last eight years,″ Mondale said. ″If that’s the comparison, I’ll win. If the question is, who’s lived here longer and been to more bake sales, Phyllis McQuaid will win.″

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