Who Wants to be a Senator?

Forget free trade with China, privatizing Social Security, and that pesky debate about campaign-finance reform. Hereís everything you really need to know about that gaggle of Minnesotans who are vying for a six-year stint in Washington.

Forget free trade with China, privatizing Social Security, and that pesky debate about campaign-finance reform. Here's everything you really need to know about that gaggle of Minnesotans who are vying for a six-year stint in Washington.

Unless you've been living in a cave, you've suffered through every twist in the New York Senate race saga. Compared with that soap opera, Minnesota's U.S. Senate chase has so far been as calm as a church-basement potluck.

Sen. Rod Grams is seeking reelection against a veritable football team of challengers; the incumbent Republican faces nine DFLers, as well as several third-party rivals. This weekend the state's DFL Party honchos will gather at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester to nominate a candidate. Though it doesn't appear that the confab will do much to winnow the field, so far no one has found a great deal to disagree about in public, and no high-wattage candidate has yet emerged from the silent pack.

Daniel Ruen

Never averse to barging in where no one else dares tread, City Pages sought to flush out some clear differences among the crowd of contenders, just to get the ball rolling. So as a service to you, our readers, we devised a comprehensive survey and sent it out to all the candidates. In the interest of, well, interest, we focused on questions that other media aren't likely to ask: "What's your favorite album?" "Pet cliché?" And, perhaps most revealing, "Is there anything you'd like to admit now, just to get it on the table?"

Designed without the aid of a single focus group, or the holding of any town meetings, our survey provides answers you won't find anywhere else this campaign season. (In fact, we wouldn't be going too far out on a limb if we said it provides information you probably never wanted to begin with.)

To hear the candidates tell it, they're fair-minded, compassionate, and progressive. (Some, we're happy to say, exhibited at least a hint of a sense of humor.) But differences emerge when you start to ask the tough questions: Are voters more likely to back a candidate who listens to the Beastie Boys, or Frank Sinatra? Kansas, or Jefferson Airplane? Will owning up to an Ally McBeal fixation have a negative impact on one's campaign? Every answer carries its own kind of political risk--you never know whom you might alienate.

One final note: Sad to say, voters who seek to discern Rod Grams's "favorite legal substance" will be disappointed: The senator was the only candidate who declined to respond to our questionnaire. Instead he sent along a campaign booklet titled "Because Actions Speak Louder Than Words."



Born April 18, 1946, St. Paul. Graduated University of St. Thomas, 1968; University of Minnesota Law School, 1971. Joined Robins, Davis and Lyons (now Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi) law firm 1971. Married to Ann Ciresi; three children.


Political party: DFL

Official Web site: www.ciresiforsenate.com

Day job: Partner and chairman of the board of the Minneapolis law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi

Have you ever been elected to anything before? I was elected class president in third grade.

Will you honor your party's endorsement process? I respect the DFL endorsement process and am working hard to earn the party's endorsement. I do intend to run in the primary.

Which three adjectives best describe your political philosophy? Straightforward, courageous, honest.

Which three political issues are most important to you? Education, health care, rural revitalization.

What did you want to be when you were 12 years old? A small businessman like my dad.

What do you think of Sen. Paul Wellstone's beard? I have never thought of it.

Have you mailed that census thing back yet? Yes.

Favorite legal substance: Mama's Pizza, in St. Paul.

Anything you'd like to admit now, just to get it on the table? Yes. I am short and wealthy.

Anything you'd like to deny now, just to get it out of the way? All this hair I have is not a toupee.

Are you glad Tim Penny got out of the way? He did the right thing for the right reasons.

Favorite album: "Ann's Favorites"--Ann [Ciresi's] compilation of my favorite songs.

Favorite book: My current favorite is The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw.

Favorite movie: The Godfather

Favorite TV show: The West Wing

Favorite Web site: www.ciresiforsenate.com

Favorite State Fair food: Anything on a stick.

Guilty pleasure: Sleep.

Pet cliché: Go pound sand.

My friends think I'm... crazy for answering goofy questionnaires like these.

Proudest moment: Standing before the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and listening to the world thank and praise Minnesota and its people for their courage in standing up to the tobacco industry.

Biggest regret: Not being drafted by the Vikings.

Secret ambition: To play middle linebacker for the Vikings.




Born January 4, 1955, Hartford, Connecticut. Attended Alaska Methodist University, Anchorage, Alaska. Playwright/performance artist; founder Reggae Theater Ensemble. Divorced, one child.


Political party: Grassroots Party

Official Web site: www.grassrootsparty.org

Day job: Barista in a café/bookstore, in addition to the Reggae Theatre Ensemble.

Have you ever been elected to anything before? No.

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