Analyst: Democratic division over Biden could sway elections in Minnesota

Published 5:32 am Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Tom Crann, Megan Burks and Lukas Levin, Minnesota Public Radio News

U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries reportedly met with Democratic representatives in competitive districts Tuesday to discuss ongoing calls for the Joe Biden to step aside in the presidential race.

That includes Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District, which is among one the most competitive in the country for the 2024 election. Over the weekend, Angie Craig, the 2nd District incumbent, called on Biden to step aside and let another Democratic candidate take on former President Donald Trump.

Email newsletter signup

“Since she has come out and said that Joe Biden should step aside, her donations have gone up,” former DFL State Senator Ember Reichgott Junge told MPR News host Tom Crann on Tuesday’s All Things Considered.

Meanwhile, Democrats in less competitive districts are sticking by the president. So how are candidates in Minnesota’s down ballot races navigating all this? Reichgott Junge broke it down.

The following transcript has been edited lightly for clarity. Click on the audio player above for the Tom Crann’s full interview with Ember Reichgott Junge.

Angie Craig called for Biden to step aside and yet Ilhan Omar, who has differed with the president on a number of things, is standing by him. Tell me about the calculus they are making.

Angie Craig is one of the five most vulnerable races in the country. Since she has come out and said that Joe Biden should step aside, her donations have gone up. Her donors are coming forward and saying, “Thank you,” and hoping that she might convince other members of the House caucus to also say the same thing.

Are races like hers a barometer that might prove the point that she says, ‘In my district, more people would prefer that Biden step aside?’

Yes, because it’s her district that will make the difference on those Independent voters and the folks that are going to make the difference in the 2024 election.

And are they the ‘suburban independent voters?’

Yes, suburban Independent voters and those that have any doubts and are uncertain about this — they may stay home rather than vote, and that means that Democrats don’t win.

On the other hand, those who are already in safe districts — people who are not on the ballot this year, like U.S. senators — they’re saying we’re sticking with Biden. It’s easy for them to do that.

Ilhan Omar, interesting context there. I’m a resident of the 5th Congressional District. I’ve received two mailings advertising that she has been fully supported by President Biden, with President Biden’s pictures on the front of the literature.

I think it would be awkward for her not to support President Biden, but it is interesting that she has differed with him on the Middle East, and maybe that will help some Democrats stay in the lane who also differ with him on that issue.

What about state lawmakers and the fact that, with an equally divided Senate, there’s a lot of the balance here. How could this affect those races?

I think it normally could affect it greatly. When Trump became president, he flipped a number of legislative bodies along with him around the country. And then we flipped back here in ‘22. But here’s the thing: We in Minnesota have a buffer; she’s called Amy Klobuchar.

Her coattails may help to keep the house in Democratic hands here in Minnesota, but just flipping that one seat or flipping the House could really make a difference in Minnesota politics, and the national trends will definitely play into it.

How do you see this all playing out in the next week with the Republican National Convention?

My fear is that the Republican National Convention will have videos of Joe Biden’s debate throughout the whole thing. I mean, that’s what I would do if I were them. So I think that a decision has to be made this weekend, and I’m hoping that Joe Biden will say, for the good of the country, he will step aside, allow Kamala Harris to take it forward, and I believe she can take it and win. We have to defeat Trump from the Democratic perspective.