‘Flip the Senate,
get things done’
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, August 21, 2020
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
MAPLE GROVE — “When we flip the Senate, we can get some things done,” says Bonnie Westlin. Right now, “we literally have people holding hostage the business of the state… They aren’t interested in making things better for people.”
Endorsed by the Minnesota AFL-CIO and DFL Party, Westlin is making a second run for Senate District 34 in Maple Grove, Osseo, Dayton and Rogers.
Eight-term Republican incumbent Limmer has earned a lifetime voting score of only 21 percent from the Minnesota AFL-CIO — and in 2019 voted in support of working families just three times out of the 15 votes tracked.
August 12, Limmer joined the Republican majority in the Minnesota Senate on a party line vote to oust the state’s labor commissioner, Nancy Leppink, who has been leading the state’s efforts to keep people safe at work during the pandemic. “People’s lives are pawns in their game,” Westlin says.
The Republicans hold only a 35-32 majority in the state Senate, and Westlin believes Senate District 34 is one where voter frustration with that majority could lead to a change. Two years ago, DFL and labor-endorsed Kristin Bahner won the “B side” of the district for a seat in the House. That year, Westlin managed DFLer Dan Solon’s run for the House District 43A seat. He lost, but won 43 percent of the vote in a 9 percent gain for the DFL candidate from 2016.
This year, campaigning in a pandemic is different. No doorknocking. “We have a very robust phonebank field plan,” Westlin says, and “we’re asking people to reach out to their personal networks.”
Westlin has lived in Maple Grove since 2004. She grew up in Crystal, then earned her undergraduate and law degrees from Hamline University. She has worked in the financial services industry and in 2004 opened her own law practice. Westlin has two sons and two grandchildren.
“I’ve had members of my family who have been union members,” Westlin says. “Labor unions provide good-paying jobs across the state… We want to strengthen our unions, not weaken them.”