President Trump is heading to Minnesota’s Iron Range for a Wednesday evening rally, which had to be moved to a larger venue because so many people wanted to attend.
That’s not particularly noteworthy, but this factoid from today’s Star Tribune assessment of the region still is: the Iron Range is Trump country. Historians will tell you that the politically volatile Iron Range once put the blue in a blue state. The DFL could always count on the Range.
Those days are over.
“Obviously the entire economy up here rotates around the mines. So if the mines are doing good, then we all do good,” Erik Leitz, who opened the BoomTown Brewery & Woodfire Grill in Hibbing six months ago, tells the Strib.
The paper’s poll in January found 70 percent support for Trump, and there’s a fair chance the number would be higher today because of the trade wars that have been sold as helping the mines of the Range, even though the paper reports the fallout could hurt some industries there.
Republican politicians who might have considered distancing themselves from the president in the past, are jockeying to get on the stage in Duluth this evening.
“I don’t know what my role is going be,” said state Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, to the Pioneer Press. She’s running for U.S. Senate against U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, a Democrat. “I would love to get on stage with the president and have a chance to address the crowd. But I just don’t know.”
For sure, there’s still some blue to be found in the 8th District: Duluth, certainly. But the Range’s latest pivot is even taking DFL politicians with it, as Sen. Tina Smith’s Senate amendment of a land swap to help the PolyMet sulfide mine project would seem to suggest. That ticked off a reliably DFL base: environmentalists.
But the Iron Range is much like America itself. No matter what is shown on TV that’s happening between families seeking refuge in the United States, if the times are good in the wallet, politicians and voters can shake just about anything else off.
Related: Duluth restaurants face backlash for hosting Fox News (Duluth News Tribune)