GOCRA Grades – 2016 Minnesota Legislature – Primary Edition

On Tuesday, August 9, Minnesota’s open primaries will be held. That means that any voter may vote in any party’s primary — although the voter must vote for only one party on the whole ballot. This provides an opportunity to help shape the competition for November.

Not sure in which district you live? Find out here:

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Key: A: Second Amendment leader B: Usually pro-2A C: Sometimes pro-2A D: Occasionally pro-2A F: Almost never pro-2A F*: No questionnaire returned; presumed hostile to 2A (P): Provisional grade, based on words, not actions


Senate District 1

DFL Party
Jual Carlson F*
Kip Fontaine F* party endorsed
Republican Party
Edwin Hahn A-(P)
Mark Johnson F* party endorsed

In the northwest corner of the state, Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, is retiring after 36 years in office. Two DFLers and two Republicans are vying for the position. Both House districts in the area are served by Republicans, so the seat is truly up for grabs.

The Republicans are Jual Carlson and and Kip Fontaine. Neither Fontaine, the Republican-endorsed candidate, nor Carlson, completed the candidate questionnaire. Fontaine’s web site makes no mention of the Second Amendment; Carlson has no web site.

The DFLers are Mark Johnson and Edwin Hahn. Johnson, the endorsed candidate, did not complete the questionnaire. On his campaign web site, he writes, ” When I read what the Constitution says about gun ownership, I don’t see room for interference by the State or Federal government. In Minnesota, gun ownership is a tradition we must promote and protect.”

Hahn did complete our questionnaire, and scored a provisional A-, usually the highest possible grade for a candidate without a voting record.

Senate District 5

Republican Party
Pedie Pederson F*
Justin Eichorn A- (P)

In SD 5, two Republicans hope to end DFL Senator Tom Saxhaug’s tenure in St. Paul.

One, Pedie Pederson, filed for office as a DFLer, then switched to the Republican ticket days later. Pederson seemed equally confused about gun rights, and failed to complete our questionnaire.

The other Republican (this one for the whole time) candidate, Justin Eichorn, did complete our questionnaire, earning a provisional grade of A-, usually the highest possible grade for a candidate without a voting record.

Senate District 15

DFL Party
Chilah Brown F*
Rob Passons F*
Republican Party
Andrew Mathews A- (P)
Dan Whitcomb B+ (P)

In this heavily Republican-leaning district, the retirement of Senator David Brown has brought out four candidates: two DFLers and two Republicans.

According to Mathews’ web site, he “Supports the expansion of law abiding citizens exercising their 2nd Amendment rights. Will fight against any efforts to expand mandatory government background checks, gun registration, or any other attempt to curtail the 2nd Amendment freedoms.”

Whitcomb’s web site says, “I support the individual right to bear arms for the protection of life, home and property.”

Read more:

Senate District 23

DFL Party
Barbara Ann Lake F*
John M. Lillis D (P)(party endorsed)

Lillis doesn’t appear to have a web site; Lake never set up hers.

The winner of the primary will face Republican incumbent Julie Rosen in this strongly GOP-leaning district.

Senate District 24

DFL Party
Rich Bailey B+ (P)
Vicki Jensen F (incumbent)

Incumbent Senator Vicki Jensen, a confirmed opponent of gun rights, is being challenged by Rich Bailey, who indicates on his questionnaire that he supports the Second Amendment, writing, “I believe we have an individual right to keep and bear arms.”

Read more: Mankato Free Press

Senate District 27

Republican Party
Gene Dornink F*
Cynthia Gail F

While Dornick didn’t complete a questionnaire, leaving us to guess his views, Cynthia Gail left no doubt: almost all of her answers used weasel words and “need more info” and “we may need to consider.” The winner in this primary race will be up against incumbent, A-rated DFL Senator Dan Sparks, in the general election.

Read more:

Senate District 32

Republican Party
Mark Koran B+ (P)
Sean Nienow A (incumbent)
Read more: Star Tribune Forest Lake Times

Senate District 52

DFL Party
Matt Klein F*
Todd Podgorski F

While neither Democrat returned our candidate questionnaire, Podgorski, who is a police officer, believes that cops should have fully functional firearms to protect his life, but other private citizens should not. He also supports gun registration disguised as “enhanced background checks.” That earns him an F.

Senate District 59

DFL Party
Bobby Joe Champion F (incumbent)
Patwin Lawrence F

Champion is an established opponent of Second Amendment rights. Lawrence seeks to replace him and do the same, calling for “Sensible regulations on the purchase and ownership of firearms….”

Senate District 62

DFL Party
Mohamoud Hassan F*
Jeff Hayden F (incumbent)

An unknown quantity takes on a known opponent of Second Amendment rights. Hayden was implicated last in a controversy involving misspent nonprofit funds, later repaying almost $3000.

Read more: Star Tribune: Hassan Star Tribune: Nonprofit scandal

Senate District 64

Republican Party
Sharon Anderson F
Ian Baird B+ (P)

While neither candidate in this overwhelmingly DFL district stands much of a chance, we should point out that Ian Baird turned in a very pro-2A candidate questionnaire, and that Sharon Anderson, who runs for office every couple years, but never wins, sends us incoherent, babbling emails.

The winner will face F-rated DFLer Richard Cohen in November.


House District 1B

DFL Party
Mike Moore F
Erv Rud D (P)

In House District 1B, two DFLers are hoping for a chance to unseat incumbent Republican Debra Kiel in November.

Erv Rud completed our our candidate questionnaire, giving many “right” answers, but his “issues” page suggests taxing and suing gun owners. He calls this a “smart approach.” (

Mike Moore, who was endorsed by his DFL district, did not complete the questionnaire, which is often a sign of hostility toward Second Amendment rights. His silence earns him a provisional grade of F.

Read more: Crookston Times

House District 6A

DFL Party
Julie Sandstede B- (P)
Tom Whiteside F*
Ben DeNucci F*
Mike Thompson F*

No candidate received a party endorsement in this race, triggered by the retirement of Rep. Carly Melin.

Only Julie Sandstede cared enough about gun owners’ votes to complete our questionnaire.

Whiteside is a former aide to anti-2A Congressman Rick Nolan. If he has a differing opinion on Second Amendment rights, we can’t find it.

Read more: Duluth News Tribune

House District 7B

DFL Party
Bryan Jensen F*
Liz Olson F* (endorsed)

Both candidates in this primary are silent on — and therefore presumed hostile to — Second Amendment rights.

House District 13A

DFL Party
Jane Leitzman F*
Anne Buckvold F*

The winner in this race will face A-rated Republican incumbent Jeff Howe in November.

House District 15A

Republican Party
Sondra Erickson A (incumbent)
Tom Heinks B- (P)

Incumbent Sondra Erickson has a 100% pro-2A voting record in the last biennium. Heinks, while he did not complete a questionnaire, has a strong pro-2A statement on his web site.

House District 31A

Republican Party
Kurt Daudt A
Alan Duff B (P)

House Speaker Kurt Daudt has a 100% pro-2A voting record, and led the House as we passed five pro-2A bills in 2015. Duff has been sending a long series of deceptive attack mailings against Daudt.

House District 31B

Republican Party
Cal Bahr B (P)(party endorsed)
Tom Hackbarth A

A-rated incumbent Tom Hackbarth has a 100% pro-2A voting record in the last biennium, and has a long history of working with GOCRA to pass pro-rights bills. Bahr’s candidate questionnaire shows strong support for the Second Amendment as well.

House District 40B

DFL Party
Debra Hilstrom B
Jim Richards B- (P)

A county prosecutor, Hilstrom doesn’t hold back in committee hearings, cross-examining our testifiers on gun-related bills. While she has never been a gun rights activist, she is intellectually honest and seems to understand the difference between gun owners and criminals.

Although unproven, challenger Jim Richard’s candidate questionnaire casts him as a pro-2A candidate.

Read more: SunPost Newspaper

House District 48A

Republican Party
Kris Newcomer F*
Mary Shapiro B+ (P)(party endorsed)
Read more: Eden Prairie News: Newcomer profile Eden Prairie News: Shapiro profile

House District 50B

DFL Party
Andrew Carlson F*
Christopher Seymore Sr. F*

The winner in this race will face Republican incumbent Chad Anderson

House District 56A

DFL Party
Jared Christiansen F
Dan Kimmel F*

Kimmel kept us guessing; Christiansen gave us enough awful answers to earn his “F.” We appreciate his candor.

The winner will challenge Republican incumbent Drew Christensen in the general election in November.

House District 59A

DFL Party
Joe Mullery F
Fue Lee F*

Mullery, a 72-year-old attorney, has consistently earned an F from GOCRA for his anti-2A votes. In 2015 he broke his streak, voting FOR a small pro-2A measure, earning a 9% pro-2A voting record for the biennium.

Challenger Fue Lee, 24, is Carleton College grad, and currently works for Secretary of State Steve Simon.

Listen to an interview with Lee: KFAI Radio

House District 60B

DFL Party
Phyllis Kahn F (incumbent)
Mohamud Noor F*
Ilhan Omar F*

Phyllis Kahn has been a state representative since Biblical times (okay, since 1973), and has a perfect record voting AGAINST Second Amendment rights. She was challenged by two candidates for her party’s endorsement, and consistently came in second place, although in the end no endorsement was made.

Challenger Mohamud Noor is executive director of the Somali Confederation of Minnesota and a former member of the Minneapolis school board, and was endorsed by the Star Tribune to replace Kahn.

Challenger Ilhan Omar is a community organizer who favors strong police and criminal justice reform.

The winner of this primary will face Republican Abdimalik Askar in the overwhelmingly DFL district.

Read more: Star Tribune

House District 65A

DFL Party
Rena Moran F
Rashad Anthony Turner F*

Confirmed anti-2A Representative Rena Moran faces Black Lives Matter organizer Rashad Turner in Tuesday’s primary. Turner has not expressed to us his views on the Second Amendment.

Read more: Pioneer Press