THE REPORTERS: End of a long era for Rep. Phyllis Kahn? - KMSP-TV

THE REPORTERS: End of a long era for Rep. Phyllis Kahn?

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Primary elections will be held on Tuesday, and local political wonks are predicting a tough contest for longtime Rep. Phyllis Kahn because she's facing her toughest challenger in 42 years.

It's a race that's had fights, fraud, but not much fun -- and the next few days could become the most interesting, yet. Kahn has represented Minnesota House District 60B, which stretches along both sides of Mississippi in Minneapolis since 1972. The area includes the Cedar-Riverside, Seward and university neighborhoods. Some say the current campaign is all about students, seniors and Somalis.

The Democratic primary revealed deep rifts in the Somali community after City Councilman Abdi Warsame endorsed Kahn, who was instrumental in redrawing the boundaries that helped him get elected. There was a second caucus after a brawl broke out at the first, and there was also an election judge who offered a biased translation.

MORE: Kahn, Noor both fail to gain DFL endorsement

Kahn falsely accused Mohamud Noor's campaign of voter fraud because more than 100 people had registered to vote using a P.O. Box located at 419 Cedar Avenue. It's not illegal, and was apparently not intentional. The overall effect, however, is that the political rhetoric now more closely resembles a schoolyard spat.

While Kahn has a PHD in biophysics from Yale, she has been a liberal lightning rod over the years. Now that she chairs the Legacy Committee, she can bring home the bacon. Meanwhile, Noor is a current school board member who narrowly lost a bid for the Minnesota Senate. Universal pre-school is his priority issue, and he contends that Kahn hasn't done enough for the community -- especially its newest members.

It seems many in the community have already made up their minds on how they will vote this week -- but voter turnout may ultimately decide the race. A steady tide of early voters, many Somali, have been making their way to Minneapolis City Hall as they cast their ballots for the youth and vision of a newcomer or the pragmatism of an experienced lawmaker who may be the ultimate insider.

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