St. Paul, Duluth mayors lead widespread Biden endorsement from elected officials

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The mayors of St. Paul and Duluth are kicking off a statewide show of support for former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, with a focus on his plan to stem the COVID-19 pandemic and kick-start an economic recovery.


St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Duluth Mayor Emily Larson led a letter Monday signed by 61 Minnesota mayors, county commissioners and city council and school board members who are endorsing Biden in their personal capacity, “despite our political differences and the diversity of our communities.”


“As local electeds from across the state, we know our communities are healthier, stronger and better when we are working together for everyone,” the letter says. “It’s what we do.”


The letter, along with a virtual discussion and phone bank event planned for Monday evening, focused on Build Back Better, the Biden campaign’s jobs and economic recovery plan. The plan includes strategies ranging from creating union jobs in manufacturing and technology to making child care more affordable, expanding affordable housing and passing universal paid sick days and paid family and medical leave.


In their letter, the 61 officials also took aim at President Donald Trump, who they said “is tearing us apart.”


“Our cities and towns are very different,” the letter says. “The people we represent understand the need for our leaders to be decent, empathetic, and trustworthy. And they recognize that our president must be someone who unites us, rather than divides us. Joe Biden has always been that person and it is who he will be as President of the United States.”


Carter and Larson have each supported the Biden campaign for months, after initially endorsing U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s presidential bid. Klobuchar dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden in March.


Local elected officials and their political networks can be helpful to presidential campaigns looking to draw voters out to the polls, said J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of a nonpartisan political newsletter at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. For the local officials, he said, participating in a national campaign can be an opportunity to raise their own profiles.


In recent months, Carter has appeared in campaign ads and participated in virtual roundtables with Biden and running mate Kamala Harris. In early October, he accompanied Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, when she visited St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood.


Larson joined Biden during part of his September visit to Duluth, where the former vice president said the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak sustained economic hardships. In an interview last week, Larson criticized Trump for saying he would halt negotiations on a COVID-19 stimulus bill until after the election as a few thousand residents in the Duluth area are expected to run out of unemployment benefits in the coming months.


Larson also sparked controversy after calling the president a white supremacist ahead of his recent campaign stop in Duluth. Her comments prompted a group of Trump supporters to organize a car parade past her house that the mayor called “an attempt to bully and intimidate me.”


Duluth, like the Twin Cities, has been a repeated stop for the Trump campaign, which is seeking to turn Minnesota red for the first time since 1972. In August, in tandem with Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Duluth, the mayors of Virginia, Chisholm, Ely, Two Harbors, Eveleth and Babbitt endorsed Trump’s re-election bid, describing him in a letter as an advocate for the working class.