News & Features

Independence Party has Senate battle of its own
By Ashley Grant
Associated Press
July 9, 2002

Minneapolis banker Jim Moore announced his candidacy for the Independence Party endorsement for U.S. Senate on July 8, 2002. Listen to his announcement.
(MPR Photo/Laura McCallum)

ST. PAUL (AP) - Democrat Paul Wellstone and Republican Norm Coleman may be the focus of attention in Minnesota's Senate race, but the Independence Party is revving up too.

At least two candidates will seek the IP's endorsement this weekend at the party's state convention in St. Cloud: Jim Moore, a commercial banker, and Alan Fine, a lecturer at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Jack Uldrich, party chairman, said Wellstone and Coleman shouldn't take either candidate for granted.

"We're not going to blow smoke in anyone's eyes," said Uldrich, who is taking a leave of absence to run the campaign of IP gubernatorial candidate Tim Penny. "Will it take the stars to align? Absolutely. But I think this is the year for the stars to align."

Moore and Fine both have agreed that whoever isn't endorsed by the party will drop out of the race. But they know even with no competition from their own party, it's going to be an uphill battle.

Either candidate would have to build his name recognition from scratch and he'll be entering what's expected to be the most expensive race in state history.

Alan Fine, a professional speaker and author, has written a book Empower Your Self: A Framework for Personal Success, and has twice been named faculty member of the year at the Carlson School.

(MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik)

Coleman and Wellstone are getting help from high places since they're battling for a seat that could help determine which major party controls the chamber in upcoming years. President Bush, for instance, is coming to town Thursday for a Coleman fund-raiser. The League of Conservation Voters has said it will pour money into the race on behalf of Wellstone.

"These monied interests have effectively stolen the voice of the individual," Moore said Monday as he officially launching his campaign. "I want to steal it back."

But, he added, "I clearly know what I'm up against."

If he's endorsed, Moore expects to spend about "one one-hundredth" of the money the candidates from the larger parties will.

This would be Moore's first run for an elective office, although he said he was an "advocate" for Gov. Jesse Ventura and Dean Barkley, who previously ran for U.S. Senate. He quit his job in May, so he could work full time on his campaign.

Fine, a professional speaker and author, has written a book "Empower Your Self: A Framework for Personal Success," and has twice been named faculty member of the year at the Carlson School.

Fine, who hasn't yet officially filed to run, also is a novice at running for an elective office, but he's confident about his chances. "I think I'm going to be the next senator," he said.

"Minnesotans are tired of people trying to buy elections. I want to serve Minnesota," Fine said.

Candidates have until July 16 to file for office, but Wellstone wasn't waiting that long. He filed Monday, causing Moore to delay his announcement for a few minutes until more than 100 Wellstone supporters cleared out of the nearby hallway.

Wellstone was admittedly surprised by the turnout, especially since he was 20 minutes late due to a news conference he held with Attorney General Mike Hatch.

"To see you in the middle of the day means a great deal to us," Wellstone said, flanked by his wife, Sheila.

Other candidates in the race include Green Party endorsee Ed McGaa and frequent candidate Dick Franson, who is challenging Wellstone for the DFL nomination in the primary. Steve Dolan, an insurance claims service owner from St. Paul, has said he also plans to run in the DFL primary.

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