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The Star Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsement of U.S. Senate appointee Tina Smith (“DFL’s Sen. Smith stands out — quietly,” Aug. 9) was baffling and its reasoning disappointing. While recognizing that Smith voted on measures that benefited her personally because of her millions in stock holdings, the endorsement speculates that she will miraculously solve this ethical issue sometime in the future. It then hails her dealmaking ability but ignores her backroom deal to help PolyMet skirt the law against the will of the vast majority of Minnesotans. The board ignored the central issue plaguing the country — politicians serving personal and special interests first and the people last. As one threatened by these examples of “government for sale,” my vote will be for Richard Painter, in the tradition of low-key Minnesota senators such as Humphrey, Wellstone and Franken.

Kelly Dahl, Linden Grove Township, St. Louis County

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Politics has a way of making cynics of even the most hopeful among us. When you find a politician who seems to have the right solution to every problem and expresses each one clearly and succinctly without resorting to a flood of buzzwords, you have to be suspicious.

But then there’s Richard Painter, a former Republican who worked as an associate counsel in the George W. Bush administration with a focus on ethics. Most of his professional life has been focused on ethical behavior of politicians, presidents and bankers. He worked on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, an act built to protect investors — i.e., every American with a retirement plan. When he was ready to run for election, he decided that the GOP wasn’t a party he could represent, so he moved to the DFL (he’s a corporate law professor at the University of Minnesota).

If you’re not familiar with him, here’s the appropriate section of his website: www.painterminnesota.com/about. A cynic might ask, in this time of rampant unethical and all manner of swamp-type behavior, why haven’t I heard of Richard Painter? Why wouldn’t the DFL be just pleased as punch to have a reputable political adviser with tons of experience running for Al Franken’s seat in the Senate? And why in the world won’t Tina Smith debate him?

All good questions. Will you be an informed voter and try to get the answers for yourself? Let’s send this unusually qualified person to the Senate for Minnesota.

Howard J. Miller, St. Paul

FIFTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

Endorsement, like party, treats Latinos as a wedge group

I was extremely disappointed to see the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsement of Margaret Anderson Kelliher for the Fifth Congressional District seat, as well as its flippant remarks about state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray and her ability to successfully represent our district and state in Congress (“Kelliher is a sure bet based on experience,” Aug. 8).

We Latinos are perpetually treated as a wedge interest group by the DFL Party. Our community’s issues — issues like family separation, driver’s licenses, bilingual education and environmental justice — are seen as inconsequential and risky disruptions to the accomplishment of more “mainstream” DFL priorities. Corporate Democrats like Kelliher campaign toward the party’s white centrists, touting their record of accomplishments in securing good outcomes for those voters’ communities. The question remains unasked and unanswered — what did Kelliher do for us and for other communities of color when she was in office and in the eight years since she left office? What did she do to stop the separation of Native, African-American and Latino families by our government? Where has she been as the Republican Party has been brutalizing our Latino communities?

The truth is that Kelliher had her chance to engage with our community and to advocate for our issues, but she chose not to, because she feared alienating the wealthy white Democrats who pay for her political patronage. Those Democrats may be enough to get her a victory in the primary election next week, but they won’t be enough to carry the DFL ticket in November.

Torres Ray is a proven, progressive leader who shows up, votes her conscience and leads on issues that impact our communities. She is also the candidate best poised to carry on U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s legacy of building the strong coalition necessary to keep Minnesota blue.

Susana de León, Minneapolis

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In the race to elect a new member of Congress from the Fifth District, we need to elect a person who has an extensive record of elected experience and effectiveness, someone who has shown an ability to work across party lines to get results. That person is Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

For 12 years, Margaret served in the Minnesota House — including her last four as speaker — and delivered on key legislative initiatives: passage of the Legacy Amendment for the arts and environment, nation-leading renewable energy standards, continued increases in public education, and historical, bipartisan passage of transit/transportation funding increases that have not happened since.

We need leadership in Congress on critical community issues like affordable housing, transportation and education. We believe that Margaret will work to make federal dollars more flexible to provide and preserve affordable housing, especially for our seniors. Adequate special education funding and making public college affordable and free for all will be a top priority for Margaret. And as she did in 2008, as House speaker, she will champion bipartisan efforts to bring new transit/transportation and infrastructure investments to our communities.

On Aug. 14, we will likely select the next Fifth District representative. It should be someone with a history of leadership and results. It should be someone who can build consensus in a partisan political environment. It should be a progressive who can help move our communities forward. It should be Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

This letter was signed by Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris, New Hope Mayor Kathi Hemken, Hopkins Mayor Molly Cummings, Edina Mayor Jim Hovland and Richfield Mayor Pat Elliott.

GOVERNOR’S RACE

Walter Mondale on Tim Walz

The Star Tribune Editorial Board got it right: Tim Walz has a proven track record in public service and is the right person to bring Minnesotans together to move us forward (“Consensus builder,” primary-election endorsement in the DFL race for governor, Aug. 5).

Tim’s a teacher who spent 20 years in a classroom, a 24-year military veteran and a former football coach who embodies the meaning of service. He served Minnesota students on the field and in the classroom, and our country in the military and in Congress. And in that service, he has stood up for what’s right and always treated those around him with respect, kindness and humility.

From a rural district mostly represented by Republicans, where I grew up, Tim has fought for all of Minnesota in a way we haven’t seen before. He has taken tough votes and stood up for progressive values on health care, climate change, the rights of workers to organize and so much more. And he has made gains for veterans, seniors, students and farmers by building coalitions with people who may not agree on everything, but they agree on getting things done.

The Star Tribune said that “Minnesota needs the next four years of state lawmaking to be less prone to partisan gridlock than the past four years have been” and that the state needs “a governor who is steeped in a belief that Minnesotans are one people with a shared destiny and who knows how to apply that idea to the nitty-gritty of governing.”

We need leaders we can count on to do what’s right and get things done. We need leaders who connect with people and help us govern — not just in St. Paul but with our communities throughout Minnesota. We need leaders who work together and keep all of us moving forward.

That’s Tim Walz.

Walter F. Mondale, Minneapolis

The writer was, among other roles, a U.S. senator from Minnesota from 1964-76 and vice president from 1977-81.