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Primary ballots can confuse mail recipients

A general look of confusion crossed the faces of many Cook County postal patrons when they found a Primary Ballot in their mail boxes recently. The State Legislature changed Minnesota’s caucus system back to a primary system, but that won’t happen until the next partisan election.

When the ballot is opened there are just three names, all for Associate Justice to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Typically justices are not household words, but in this case at least two of the names may sound vaguely familiar if you follow the news.

The incumbent is Natalie Hudson. She is one of three women on the court and the only black justice. She was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton in October of 2015. Prior to that she served on the Court of Appeals, appointed by then Gov. Jesse Ventura and subsequently elected twice.

Michelle MacDonald is a private practice attorney and until recently served as a Conciliation Court judge in Hennepin County. In 2014 she was a Supreme Court Candidate endorsed by the Republican Party. She was in the news in June 2014 when it was discovered she had been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and resisting arrest in 2013. The revelation came less than two weeks after party delegates in Rochester endorsed MacDonald to run against Justice David Lillehaug.

The third candidate is Craig Foss, about which little is known publicly. The Secretary of State’s office lists his residence in St. Paul, he has no website. There is a Craig Foss listed in private practice in St. Paul, a Craig Foss who is a corporate council in Minneapolis and a third practicing in Alexandria.

According to Cook County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, who oversees elections here, the primary will cost the county in the neighborhood of $15,000. A minimum of three election judges will be at each of two polling places – the courthouse and the community center. A full complement of election judges – 22 minimum – will work the mail ballots on primary night, August 9.
Powers said at the very least the primary will serve as a dry run for the November 8 General Election.