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Editorial: Voters face a choice in Senate 13 DFL primary

District 13 voters have a choice in the Senate DFL primary for the first time in many elections. Michael Cruze of Willmar has challenged incumbent Sen. Dean E. Johnson to be the DFL candidate for District 13. The two will face off in the Sept. 12...

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District 13 voters have a choice in the Senate DFL primary for the first time in many elections.

Michael Cruze of Willmar has challenged incumbent Sen. Dean E. Johnson to be the DFL candidate for District 13. The two will face off in the Sept. 12 primary. The DFL primary winner will face Republican-endorsed Joe Gimse in the November election.

We commend Cruze, Johnson and Gimse for running for public office. As we editorialized earlier this month, it takes courage and commitment to run for any political office, especially in today's extremely partisan political environment.

Cruze, a retired Minnesota state trooper, is seeking the District 13 Senate DFL ballot spot because he believes Johnson is not representing the district's citizens properly. The district's core values need better representation, he said, citing the marriage amendment, taxpayerfunded abortions, public safety and education among the most important issues in the district.

Cruze said his support of President Bush in the 2004 election, including having Bush campaign signs in his yard, may have left the impression that he is a Republican. However, Cruze said he is a longtime Democrat but hasn't been active in the DFL party since the 1970s.

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"I've never even been to a Republican caucus," Cruze told Tribune and challenged anyone to prove otherwise.

Whether Cruze was ever a Republican, Democrat or some shade in between is not the issue here. Some politicians change parties and some elected officials even support candidates in other parties.

In fact, Johnson changed from the GOP to the DFL and U.S. Senator Norm Coleman changed from the DFL to GOP. In addition, St. Paul's Mayor Randy Kelly, a Democrat, supported Bush during the 2004 presidential race, but then lost his re-election race in 2005.

You don't have to be a card-carrying member of anything to file for any political office. A candidate need have no other credentials than being a legal resident of District 13.

Ultimately, the voters of District 13 will decide whether Cruze is a suitable candidate or not.

Yet, it is important for voters to evaluate the credentials of their candidates. Come Sept. 12, the issue for District 13 voters will be their choice between Cruze, a rookie politician, or Johnson, a veteran politician with a legislative leadership position.

It is a choice that should be taken seriously as it will impact the future of Willmar and the district.

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