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The Star Tribune Editorial Board is correct in its strong endorsement of both Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Patricia Torres Ray to replace Keith Ellison in the Fifth Congressional District (“Kelliher is a sure bet based on experience,” Aug. 8). I would however, flip their recommendation to place Torres Ray as the first choice.

Torres Ray not only brings the experience of 12 years as a state senator, but as an immigrant to Minnesota 30 years ago, she brings a wealth of life’s challenges that helps her to identify with the needs of the district’s wonderfully diverse constituents.

These are serious times. We need a leader with a passionate, intelligent and thoughtful voice who can effectively address the critical issues of the day.

Climate change, sensible gun control, humane immigration reform, health care that works for everyone — issues that should concern everyone. Patricia Torres Ray is the best candidate at this time to help represent the Fifth District in Washington.

Steve Sitkoff, Minneapolis

• • •

The Star Tribune Editorial Board has weighed in on my candidacy for Congress in the Fifth District Republican primary — to paraphrase: meh.

I thank the board for having me in to interview. Three brief points in response:

First, for those already planning to vote in the Republican primary: If you’re unhappy (or disgusted) with President Donald Trump — or if you would prefer a President Mike Pence — please vote for me. I’m calling for Trump to resign or be impeached. Paying the $300 filing fee to give you that option was worth it.

Second, the editorial says of the GOP field: “None of them is qualified to represent” the district. Beyond disagreeing, I would add: Let’s get real — we all know a Republican won’t be elected from this district in November. That being said, I’m confident that the Republican-endorsed candidate, Jennifer Zielinski, would run a respectful general-election campaign, and that’s important.

Third, because we elect the entire U.S. House every two years, this November all voters should vote for a Democrat in the general election — simply to provide a desperately needed check-and-balance on Trump. Whoever is in the White House (Trump or Pence) will check-and-balance the Democrats. Divided government is better than a dead democracy — our situation is that serious. We can all look over the situation again in two years, when the 2020 “hindsight” election is upon us.

Bob “Again” Carney Jr., Minneapolis

U.S. SENATE

Smith, Painter and the role of ethics and financial holdings

An Aug. 8 letter writer defended U.S. Sen. Tina Smith for opposing the medical-device tax while her family holds millions in device stocks. But ethics apply whether or not it costs you money — more so if it does, actually. Otherwise, it isn’t ethics. It’s just politics.

Candidate Richard Painter once told Henry Paulsen, a Goldman Sachs executive and then a candidate for Treasury secretary, that Paulsen had to divest himself of all of his Goldman stock before he could take the job.

When Painter speaks on the subject of ethics, he speaks with authority — and experience.

Steve Timmer, Edina

• • •

Why is there is so much enthusiasm for Richard Painter for Senate on social media? It’s because it’s a grass-roots campaign clean of corporate dollars or PAC money.

Painter has been barnstorming the state speaking at community forums, appearing on local media programs, and broadcasting live video online, direct to the people.

This race is critical because our democracy is under attack. In Painter, I see hope. He is a national spokesperson whose passion and legal expertise as an ethics attorney so perfectly fits to address today’s governmental corruption.

I haven’t heard much from Smith on any of these issues. I think she’s a fine person, but that she is the wrong person for these unusual times.

Sheryl Casey, Eagan

• • •

Painter’s rants against sulfur-mining expansion and stating that Iron Rangers need to get off the idea of mining to fuel the local economy should be a red flag to Democrats.

Iron Rangers and other northeastern Minnesota voters have typically been very loyal to the Democratic Party and helped many Democrats win statewide offices, with the most significant being Mark Dayton for governor in 2010. However, they did support Donald Trump for president. And, yes, Hillary Clinton did win Minnesota in the presidential race without northeastern Minnesota, except I do not think Democrats really want to take a risk in the primary election, since the general election will include third-party/Independent candidate in controversial businessman Jerry Trooien, who might try to put a monkey-wrench in the U.S. Senate special election.

So, my advice? Stick with incumbent Tina Smith over Painter in the Democratic primary.

William Cory Labovitch, South St. Paul

GOVERNOR’S RACE

For Swanson, Johnson

I am writing in support for Lori Swanson’s bid for governor. As Minnesota’s attorney general over the past 12 years, she has shown unfaltering dedication and commitment toward the task of safeguarding the people of Minnesota from exploitation. The sources of such skulduggery have been the likes of vicious hospital-debt collectors, telephone scammers and charlatan loan sharks who go after one’s pension. Recently she plans to join legal efforts to block online publication of blueprints for 3-D printed guns (front page, Aug. 1).

As a senior citizen, I give her my vote in spades.

Roy House, Rochester

• • •

First, what is the motivation for Tim Pawlenty to leave his high-powered, high-income job in Washington in order to run for governor again?

It is obvious that the movers and shakers (cronies of Mr. Pawlenty) want him to be back in office in a governor’s position. I believe that Pawlenty aspires to run for higher office and is trying to use the office of governor as a steppingstone. Do Minnesotans really want this? I hope not.

Second, Minnesotans must have short memories. Do you remember what a financial mess the state was in when Pawlenty left office? Education was ravaged, the economy was in shambles, unemployment was high, health care was a big concern and “fees” were raised on the pretense of never raising taxes.

Please don’t allow Tim Pawlenty to be on the ballot in November. Give Jeff Johnson a chance in the Republican primary for governor. He is a fresh face, while Pawlenty is old news. I prefer to go forward than to relive the past.

Virginia Ludwig, Ham Lake