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Editorial: What makes a candidate a candidate?

Elsewhere in this issue of the Town Pages you will find our annual voter's guide. We asked questions of candidates in races ranging from city council to county commissioner to U.S. House, but we expect it's the section dedicated to Minnesota House of Representatives candidates that will generate the most comment.

When you get the kind of reaction we got before we'd even gotten responses from the candidates you have to figure people are taking an interest. Most of that interest, at least so far, has been focused on our decision to include declared write-in candidate Kurt Hansen.

In the days after we sent our questionnaires to candidates we heard from residents, city council members, even representatives of the Minnesota DFL asking us to exclude Hansen. He'd had his chance, they argued. He'd lost in the party's endorsing process and received a fraction of the votes of endorsed DFL candidate Phillip Sterner in the primary election.

Both of those statements are true. They also don't take into account the fact both of those elections involved only a small portion of the voting public -- party delegates in one case, registered Democrats who chose to vote in the primary on the other.

They asked about others who might want write-in votes. Would we extend the same offer to any resident who declared himself or herself a write-in candidate. If that person announced his or her candidacy as Hansen did and dedicated the time and effort Hansen has to running a campaign, yes we would. We have yet to hear from anyone.

We don't know if Hansen has a chance to win this election. Given his write-in status and his performance in elections to this point we doubt it. But it's not for us to weigh a given candidate's chances. What we know is, if Hansen receives more votes Nov. 4 than either Sterner or Republican candidate Judy Lindsay he will win the District 37B seat in the house. He will represent Rosemount at the capitol.

That makes him a candidate. And in our minds it earns him the opportunity to participate in our voters guide.