Retired Duluth TV news anchor Michelle Lee announced Wednesday she is running for the Minnesota Senate District 11 seat.
Lee, 67, of Moose Lake, said she wants the district represented by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party again. She ran for the seat in a special election earlier this year but lost to candidate Stu Lourey in the DFL primary. Republican Jason Rarick, of Pine City, ultimately won the seat in the February special election.
“I spent the whole summer going to parades and various DFL unit events, talking with leaders in the party and I just feel, and many others feel, that I am the strongest candidate to win back this state senate seat,” Lee told the News Tribune on Wednesday.
Senate District 11 includes parts of Carlton, St. Louis, Pine and Kanabec counties.
Lee plans on making an announcement speech at the Cloquet Labor Temple on Wednesday evening, she said.
The Senate District 11 seat had long been held by Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL, who resigned as senator last year to serve as Gov. Tim Walz’s commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. He has since resigned from his role as commissioner as well.
Lee said her unsuccessful run to replace Lourey earlier this year was harmed by the special election’s short campaign window.
“It’s really hard to get a message across in an 18-day campaign,” Lee said.
Now, Lee has plenty of time to campaign with almost a full year until the November 2020 general election.
“We debated back and forth, me and my team, whether to announce earlier or waiting until the dust settled after the November elections and just felt that the time was right,” Lee said. “And it'll give us a lot of time to build out that grassroots effort that we're going to need to win the seat back and put it back into the blue column.”
Lee said she’ll focus on improving access to rural health care and health insurance, rural broadband and K-12 and trade schools.
Lee finished second to Joe Radinovich in a five-person primary in the 8th Congressional District in August 2018.
But she’s not looking to run for Congress again any time soon.
“In order to mount a successful campaign, you will have to raise millions upon millions upon millions of dollars, unless we have a better way of selecting people,” Lee said. “And I feel that I would have made one heck of a congresswoman. I really believe that. I still have people calling me up and saying, 'You need to run (for Congress). What can we do to get you to run?’ and I say, ‘I’m sorry, no.’”