BY RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER Pioneer Press
Outside of Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman's St. Paul office, Democrat Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer today announced his own candidacy for the Senate and solicited his supporters to dial their cell phones.
"Friends, start up those cell phones," Nelson-Pallmeyer asked the crowd of cover 100 supporters who turned out to see him officially declare his bid to unseat Coleman. "We are launching the largest mobile phone bank in Minnesota history."
And indeed, immediately after his brief announcement speech, supporters spread out in a nearby parking lot and on the sidewalk to pitch the candidate to Minnesotans. Among his supporters today were several of the more liberal members of state Legislature, including Minneapolis Reps. Karen Clark and Jim Davnie, and former state Sen. Becky Lourey.
The cell phone gimmick may be one way Nelson-Pallmeyer, 56, plans to counter the superior fundraising capacity and name identification of the two Democrats considered frontrunners in the race - comedian Al Franken and attorney Mike Ciresi. Attorney and environmental activist Jim Cohen and frequent candidate Dick Franson are also running for the seat.
Like Nelson-Pallmeyer, Franken, Cohen and Ciresi have said they will abide by the DFL endorsement next summer.
Nelson-Pallmeyer, a peace and justice professor at the Univ. of St. Thomas. The endorsement went to Keith Ellison, who went on to win the general election.
In that race, Nelson-Pallmeyer was seen as the strongest opponent of the war in Iraq and today he maintained his "peace candidate" status.
He proudly said that before the Iraq war started he debated Rep. Jim Ramstad about the potential conflict.
"I said then we were being lied to. I said then that we were being manipulated by a well-crafted politics of fear. I said then that the Bush administration was leading us into a pre-planned war for oil. I said then that the war would be a disaster for Iraq and for the United States," said Nelson-Pallmeyer, who referenced Paul Wellstone in his announcement speech.
Today Nelson-Pallmeyer expanded his pitch to include:
-Health care, he wants a national single-payer system.
-Environmental issues, he wants use of more alternatives to oil and more public transit.
-Immigration, he wants to welcome immigrants not crackdown on them, and raising the minimum wage.
"Minnesotans, we may not always agree but I promise to listen and you will always know exactly where I stand," Nelson-Pallmeyer said. "Together, we can solve problems."