Former Republican U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger announced at Daube's Bakery in Rochester that he is endorsing DFL Congressman Tim Walz. This marks the first time Durenberger has endorsed a Democrat in a state race. So why is he doing it?
It all dates back to last summer when Walz asked Durenberger to moderate some health care town hall events. The former Senator said he had never heard of Tim Walz until he asked him to help out. During those town halls, he said he was impressed by the congressman's effort to unite people instead of divide them.
"I have my own set of experiences of bringing people together. I had the experience of watching Tim try to do it in the district and if Tim Walz were a Republican, I'd be endorsing him anyway, but he's a Democrat," Durenberger said.
He said that Walz reminds him in some ways of his father who was the athletic director at St. John's University. Before being elected to Congress, Walz worked as a high school teacher and football coach.
"He is eager to understand where people are coming from and translate that in some way — in this case into legislative action, and I think that is a gift that very few people have," Durenberger said.
He said he also backs Walz because of his support for the federal health care law. Durenberger, who founded the National Insitute of Health Policy at the University of St. Thomas, said the goal of health care rerform has been to increase affordable access to health care, reform health insurance and reward people who make healthy choices. He said the new federal health care law is an historic first step at addressing these issues.
Candidates running against Walz are Republican Randy Demmer, IP candidate Steven Wilson and independent candidate Lars Johnson.