ST. PAUL -- Tuesday's primary won't have the famous names of Humphrey, Freeman and Mondale as did the one four years ago. And it won't feature the ka-ching of 2000, when Mark Dayton poured his personal fortune into an ad blitz.
But stakes are high nonetheless, as voters get to decide whether to continue Greg Gray's bid to become the first black elected to statewide office, whether the Green Party's U.S. Senate choice should advance and who will proceed among a dozen candidates running for a district court judgeship.
"Statewide, it's going to be low, but there's going to be pockets of turnout," said Craig Grau, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Unlike in previous years when top-of-the-ticket candidates drew people to the polls in September, this time, it could be a local legislative or sheriff race that attracts voters. But when they arrive on Tuesday, these are some of the other races they'll see on the ballot:
Each of Minnesota's four major parties will have primaries for U.S. Senate and governor, but only one is expected to be a contest -- Ed McGaa and Ray Tricomo of the Green Party running for Senate.
The Greens endorsed McGaa but he's gotten the cold shoulder from some party members since they learned of his part in a 1980s business deal involving sewage ash shipped from Minnesota to South Dakota.
Tricomo is an Oakdale writer who said he reluctantly entered the race largely because of McGaa's pro-military stances.
Whoever gets the Green Party nomination is likely to take votes from DFL Sen. Paul Wellstone, who needs every one of them in a tight race with Republican Norm Coleman.
In the auditor's race, the DFL primary is the one to watch.
Three candidates -- Gray, a state representative from Minneapolis, outgoing state treasurer Carol Johnson and Department of Transportation worker Gregg Iverson -- want to replace Judi Dutcher, a DFLer who is stepping down after two four-year terms.
The auditor is responsible for overseeing the books of about 4,300 local government bodies.
Gray, the party's endorsee, is an attorney and frequently touts the fact that he's the only candidate who has done audits before. He has 10 years of internal auditor experience at four large Minnesota corporations. If elected, he would be the first black Minnesotan to hold a statewide office.
His stiffest competition is Johnson, whose office is being eliminated at the end of this year.
In a recent debate, both of them said the auditor's office had been well run under Dutcher, but said they might change a few things.
Gray suggested scaling back a state review of tax increment financing projects from every year to every other year to free up time and money for more spot reviews of audits done by CPA firms on local governments. Johnson said she would make more information available on the auditor's Web site.
Only one Supreme Court seat is up for election his year -- that of Justice Paul Anderson, who has served on the court since 1994.
Running against him are:
* Jack Baker, a longtime gay activist who has sought legal marriage for gays.
--Allan Lamkin, a conservative lawyer who calls homosexual marriage a tax and insurance ploy and says Hitler destroyed freedom of the press and private ownership of guns to establish his dictatorship.
The nonpartisan primary will reduce the November field to two.
On the district court front, one race stands out.
A dispute over how judges are picked prompted a dozen candidates to seek a Scott County judgeship. The controversy began when Judge Eugene Atkins announced he would retire from the bench the day before his term was scheduled to end.
Traditionally, that meant Gov. Jesse Ventura would appoint a successor rather than having voters elect one. One of the candidates seeking the seat, however, filed a complaint, arguing that Atkins was intentionally manipulating the process. The Supreme Court voted 4-2 to put the seat on the November ballot.
About 16.2 percent of Minnesota's voting age population turned out for the 2000 primary. Based on ballots cast in four U.S. Senate primaries, the only statewide races, about 578,000 votes were cast. Census Bureau figures estimate Minnesota had 3.57 million eligible voters that year.
Other election-year turnout has varied widely in the past two decades from 9.84 percent in 1988 to 17.1 percent in 1992.
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