Dems fret primary push will hurt chances at defeating Rep. Cravaack

Minnesota Democrat Tarryl Clark has decided to forgo the normal party nominating process and run in an August primary in her bid to unseat freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.), a move that local Democrats warn could hurt the party's chances at beating him.

Clark will likely face two other Democrats in the late primary, forcing them all to spend time and resources winning the primary rather than focusing on Cravaack, a top Democratic target after his surprise win in 2010 over longtime Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.).

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Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin said he was "disappointed" by Clark's decision.

"By forcing a primary election, we risk wasting valuable DFL resources and drawing the focus away from the real goal of defeating Chip Cravaack," he said in a statement.

Clark, who ran against Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in 2010, has moved north from the Minneapolis exurbs to Duluth to run in this district. Former Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) and businessman Jeff Anderson (D) are also running.

The two have had more success racking up local party support, making it likely Clark would lose at a state nominating convention despite her previous tenure as a vice chairman of the DFL. This has convinced her to push for a primary instead.

Democrats are still bullish about winning the race, which The Hill rates as a toss-up. But this situation complicates their path to victory.