MINNEAPOLIS -- Congressman Tim Walz and his newly picked running mate, Rep. Peggy Flanagan, were expected to make their first campaign sweep across Minnesota on Saturday.
Rep. Walz late Thursday announced Flanagan would joining his ticket in the race for governor.
"It does bring electoral balance to his ticket and Rep. Walz is probably looking for added momentum at this point, which this gives him," Kathryn Pearson, a University of Minnesota political science professor, told KARE.
Rep. Flanagan, a progressive liberal from St. Louis Park, has deep connections to many DFL activists in the Twin Cities, having worked for Wellstone Action and the Children's Defense Fund.
"Walz comes from the First Congressional District, which is southern Minnesota, so being able to energize the DFL base in the metro would be an important consideration as well," Pearson added.
Flanagan's also a member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation, and if elected, she'd be the first Native American Indian to capture a statewide office in Minnesota.
But the DFL state convention is nearly eight months away, and the primary election is 10 months out still. But Pearson said the invisible race for delegates and campaign cash is already in full swing.
Flanagan can potentially allow the Walz campaign to cover more ground.
"Tim Walz is also busy in Washington DC right now, and so Flanagan can be an effective surrogate for him, while he’s fulfilling his duties as a member of Congress," Pearson explained.
The two don't agree on every issue, including the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline replacement project. Flanagan has opposed the construction of the line because a rupture could damage wild rice beds in parts of the state covered by treaties between the US Government and tribes.
Rep. Walz is one of six major candidates in the hunt for the D-F-L nomination for governor. Others vying to carry the Democratic banner in 2018 are State Auditor Rebecca Otto, Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, former House Speaker Paul Thissen, former House Majority Leader Erin Murphy and Rep. Tina Liebling of Rochester.
Others may still enter the fray on the DFL side of the ledger, including Attorney General Lori Swanson.
Flanagan's political career began in 2004 when, at the age of 25, she won a seat on the Minneapolis School Board. She's now 38 and lives in St. Louis Park with husband Tim Hellendrung and daughter Siobhan.
In addition to serving in the state legislature, Flanagan works for The Management Center, a Washington D.C. based group that trains social justice professionals in managing and organizing.