REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — Farmfest, the annual celebration of all things agricultural in Minnesota, will be the political epicenter of the state Aug. 7-9.
Candidates in all major political races in the state — governor, both U.S. Senate seats, and four House seats — will be at the show and have committed to participating in question-and-answer forums.
The governor’s race is particularly competitive with former Gov. Tim Pawlenty running against endorsed Republican Jeff Johnson on the GOP side. For the Democrats, 1st District Rep. Tim Walz and state Attorney General Lori Swanson are hoping to win the nomination against DFL-endorsed state Rep. Erin Murphy.
All five gubernatorial candidates will be on Farmfest’s stage at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 8. It will be the first time the five have been on the same stage, and it will happen less than a week before voters in the Aug. 14 primary election determine which two candidates will advance to the Nov. 5 general election.
The forum with the candidates for the Senate seat held by Al Franken, who resigned on Jan. 2, kicks off the political forums at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 7. Tina Smith, a Democrat appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to temporarily fill the seat, is being challenged for the DFL nomination by Richard Painter. The Republican candidate is state Sen. Karin Housley.
At 1:15 p.m. that day, major party candidates for four House districts that have a significant agricultural economy will be on the stage. Democrat Dan Feehan and Republicans Jim Hagedorn of Blue Earth and Carla Nelson of Rochester are running in the 1st District, which spans most of southern Minnesota. Walz has held the seat for 12 years; he is running for governor.
Candidates in the 7th District, which borders the Dakotas and stretches from Sibley County to Lake of the Woods, are 28-year veteran Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson and Republican challenger Dave Hughes.
Some candidates for the 2nd and 6th districts, which are mixes of farm land and sections of the Twin Cities, and the 8th District, which includes farms in its southern half, also are expected as well.
Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer of the 6th District and Democratic challenger Ian Todd are expected, along with Democrat Angie Craig, who is challenging GOP Rep. Jason Lewis in the 2nd. Lewis and the 8th District candidates have not yet committed to attend.
The final candidate forum is for the Senate seat held by Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar. She and Republican challenger Jim Newberger will face off at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 9.