EDINA — An overflow crowd Tuesday night at the Southdale Library Community Room heard Third District Congressional District candidate Dean Phillips in his first public presentation. Thankfully it didn’t include a power point or the dreadful robot-like recitation that is so common with other politicians here.
Phillips, who owns a coffee shop and has managed his family’s foundation, has that “Wellstone-Franken” self-deprecating charm that served him well before a crowd that wasn’t always friendly. It was evident in the way that he answered questions that he had done his homework.
Those that came to the meeting hoping for a lambasting of Trump and the incumbent Erik Paulsen must have left disappointed. Phillips is not a hell raiser or spellbinder in the Humphrey mold, but he comes across as being sincere.
Global warming was a major theme in his response to questions about the environment and he advocated for the “carbon tax” so that we can leave the planet better than we found it. You can be sure that the word “tax” was recorded by Paulsen’s team and will be used in upcoming commercials.
Phillips faces a formidable task in that a DFL candidate hasn’t won the district since 1958, but the west metro is considered a swing district where Mrs. Clinton won here by 10 points over Trump.
The question and answer period ended on an emotional note when a woman in the audience recalled the lack of response from Paulsen when she asked for his help related to her gay son. For his response, Phillips got a standing ovation.
Before the meeting, two young people outside the building displayed signs reading “Unqualified is spelled D-E-A-N.” An avowed Republican sat under Phillips nose the entire evening and it didn’t rattle him in the least. The crowd was eager to hear from a politician that didn’t spew hate or body slam a reporter. Someone in a SUV tailgated me out of the parking lot, honking the horn. An excited citizen, I suspect? — Dave Zarkin