Close presidential race has Nancy Larson in a tough spot

February 18, 2008

As an uncommitted superdelegate, Dassel’s own is wooed for her vote

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Superdelegate Nancy Larson of Dassel, has been a hot commodity lately among the Democratic presidential candidates.

With such a close race between Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton, there’s no telling if the Democratic nomination will need to be determined by the votes of the superdelegates at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Larson is hoping it doesn’t come down to that.

Four years ago, Larson was elected at the state convention to be on the Democratic National Committee, making her a superdelegate.

There is a total of 14 superdelegates in Minnesota, including US Senator Amy Klobuchar and former vice president Walter Mondale.

Nine of the 14 have chosen a candidate to endorse, while the other five are still uncommitted, including Larson.

During the last presidential election, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry was chosen well before the Democratic National Convention by the people’s votes, alone.

Her status of “uncommitted” grows from the fact that she wants the public to decide who will be the Democratic presidential nominee.

“Everyone’s worried the delegates will take over,” Larson said.

Larson’s choice of being “uncommitted” at this early stage is partly because she wants to make sure her decision doesn’t overthrow what the people want.

“We have really solid superstars who are in a dead heat,” Larson said.

She hopes the competition will be decided before the Democratic National Convention this summer.

Being a lobbyist for Flaherty & Hood, Larson spends most of her time lobbying for rural Minnesota through the Coalition for Greater Minnesota Cities, which cities like Cokato and Litchfield are a part of.

The Coalition for Greater Minnesota is known for its commitment to making rural Minnesota stronger, Larson explained.

Because she has yet to choose to support either of the candidates wholeheartedly, Larson has the candidates fighting for her vote.

In the weeks prior to Minnesota’s caucuses, Larson received a phone call from former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, asking her to support Hillary Clinton.

Then, Larson received a call from Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, telling Larson how great her mother was and how electable she is.

Since that wasn’t enough to convince Larson, former president Bill Clinton called her up.

“The president is on the line for you,” said the voice on the other end.

“Well hello Mr. President,” Larson said.

When that wasn’t enough, Larson received a call on Super Tuesday from Hillary Clinton herself.

“All of them were wonderful and very delightful,” Larson said.

On the other side of the campaign trail, Larson is also being contacted to support Obama for the presidential nominee. However, this is more of a grass roots effort, Larson said.

Besides the abundant e-mails from the Obama campaign, one day, Larson got a call from Minnesota State Senator Dick Cohen.

“Who can I have talk to you? Should I have George Clooney call you?” Cohen asked Larson.

No call from a heart-throb actor is going to make up Larson’s mind.

“I really don’t need to be courted,” she said.

“My decision will be made on a whole lot of issues,” Larson said.

First, Larson will look at each candidate’s issues on the rural level; second, on the state level; and third, on the national level, she said.

Both candidates have wonderful attributes, but they are quite opposite of each other, Larson said.

Clinton has her programs, while Obama has visions, hope, and opportunity, Larson said.

“They are both wonderful candidates. I really like both of them,” Larson said.

Though she would love to see a mixture of the two of them (president/vice president), she doubts that is likely.

Although it is “way early” in the election season, Larson is confident no matter which candidate moves forward, a Democrat will become the next president of the United States of America.

“I think they are inspirational. I think they are good. I think they’ll win,” Larson laughed.

This election year is quite different from past elections – people are more engaged and fascinated with both sides of the political spectrum, Larson said.

“It’s wonderful,” she said.

Larson explains this election year is much like watching the playoffs to the Super Bowl.

“I love the whole thing,” she said.

With Larson working near the Capitol, she stays in St. Paul during the week. Her roommate and best friend happens to be a Republican, Kathy Heimel. In the past, Heimel has worked for Arnie Carlson and Ronald Reagan.

“We enjoy the political discourse,” Larson said.

Even though they agree on some of the basics, Larson suggests, “We shouldn’t shut people out because we don’t agree on the same issues.”

Although she has yet to determine which Democratic presidential nominee she will vote for, Larson thinks it’s important to have good candidates representing both parties.

“We need the best candidates on both sides running because you never know who’s going to win,” Larson said.

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