Cravaack making the rounds in Duluth

Not too long ago, U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack was on the defensive in the 8th Drisrtict for not holding a public town hall meeting in Duluth, his district’s largest city, while hosting meetings in the tiny rural communities of Deer River and Grand Portage.

Cravack, a freshman Republican in Congress, eventually relented after being confronted by protestors outside a lunch meeting, and held a spur of the moment meeting at the Duluth airport on Aug. 25.

But lately, Cravaack has been spending a lot of time in Duluth. On Oct. 7, he’s hosting a third “roundtable” with interested stakeholders in Polymet, the controversial proposed copper-nickel open pit mine in Hoyt Lakes, to get an update on the permitting process. Last week, he held separate meetings with doctors, seniors, and even middle school students.

The event at Woodland Middle School was closed to the media, but afterwards I asked him, “why all the love for Duluth?”

Cravaack said he was in Duluth a lot even before the town hall. And again he laid out how accessible he’s been to his constituents, saying he’s held 13 town halls and over 100 “mobile offices” where members of his staff meet with people in communities across the district.

“If someone has a bigger plan,” he said, “I’d like to hear it.”

The AP suggested Cravaack is increasing his face-time in Duluth to gear up for what’s expected to be a tough re-election campaign. With Daniel Fanning, a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Al Franken entering the race yesterday, four Democrats are now vying for the right to challenge him in 2012.

But Cravaack denied that, saying he’s just doing his job. “I serve at the discretion of the people in the 8th District,” he said. “If they think I’ve done a good job, then they’ll re-elect me. If they don’t, then good luck to the next person.”

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