Nancy Prehn speaking at Blooming Grove Town Hall about the Simon Industries 325MW natural gas plant (she and Kimber were my clients on that one — note the utility personal property tax was pushed into Host Fee Agreement mode and there is no power plant).

Handling the details

Campaign managers say they help candidates concentrate on the issues

By Pauline Schreiber

FARIBAULT – Bill Favro mailed 800 handwritten postcards Friday, which reminded people to vote on Nov. 7.

“It’s been an interesting learning experience to have served as campaign manager for Otto Luknic. I’ve learned how politics works at the grassroots level, which is really what state representative, state senate, county positions, city council and school board seats are about,” Favro said. “They are at a level where a candidate can go door-to-door and meet with voters. It’s a lot different than national candidates that depend a lot on TV ads.”

Favro considers himself an Independent when it comes to politics. But when Luknic, the Republican challenger to District 26B State Rep. Patti Fritz’s seat asked him in March to be his campaign manager, he could not refuse his former high school teacher and long-time friend.

“Basically what a campaign manager does is handle the details of the campaign so a candidate can concentrate on campaigning rather than concern themselves with preparing campaign signs, literature, ads, and also recruiting and coordinating volunteers and organizing fundraising,” Favro said.

The job is a volunteer position, so Favro’s life has been very busy since he agree to be Luknic’s campaign manager in March. He works full-time at his family’s business, the Humphrey Man-Lift Co. on Minnesota Highway 60, west of Faribault.

“The job of campaign manager really involves more time than I thought it would. I’d say that it has amounted to 10 to 15 hours of work many weeks, but other weeks (it’s totaled) just a few hours,” he said.

He added, “My wife, Jennifer, is looking forward to the election being over next Wednesday, so I won’t always have something to do for the campaign, as it seems I’ve had for the past nine months. But I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a great learning experience. I’m not sure I’d do it again, but if I did, I could likely do it all more efficiently.”

Close at hand

Jim Fritz served as the campaign manger for his wife, Patti Fritz, when she ran two years ago and unseated Lynda Boudreau, then Republican incumbent District 26B state representative, and again this election year.

“It’s worked out very well. Who knows Patti better than me? So my job is getting her out to events and helping her door-knock,” said Jim Fritz, a retired Faribault firefighter. “I work in the background, however. I don’t like to stick out. I want Patti to be the focus.”

Eller’s manager

Nancy Prehn of Waseca found her life extremely busy, since early this year when she agreed to be Democrat Jeremy Eller’s campaign manager, also a volunteer position. Eller of Faribault is trying for a second time to unseat incumbent Republican District 26 State Senator Dick Day of Owatonna.

Prehn, a school paraprofessional with the Waseca District, defined the role of campaign manager as “working for a candidate and doing things to make it easier for him, so he doesn’t have to worry about all the details related to the campaign.”

She lined up fundraisers, arranged for units to be in community parades, and various other campaign events.

“I also recruited volunteers to help with the campaign. But often people would call me up to offer their help with putting out signs and other activities, so it really wasn’t hard to find volunteers,” Prehn said.

Something lacking is a manual for political campaign managers, she said. “I just used a lot of honesty and kindness, no matter what side of the fence people were on. Everyone’s views should be respected.”

Besides heading Eller’s campaign this election year, Prehn is herself running for a spot on the Waseca County Board.

“I’m a high-energy person to begin with. So, yes, it’s been very busy for me. However, I’m glad I did it. It’s been a wonderful experience for me. I met some very thoughtful people,” Prehn said.

No manager

Dick Day has no campaign manager, but heads up his own campaign with the help of his wife and children.

“Back when I first ran in 1990 I had a campaign manager. I spent more time talking to the campaign manager, and then to the campaign committee, it seemed a waste of time. So since then I’ve been doing it myself with the help of my family,” Day said. “I have a few friends that always help put up campaign signs. But after that, each Saturday I drove around to make sure the signs are OK.”

What helps, Day said, is that the Republican Caucuses offers help with mass mailings of campaign literature.

“We pay for it, but they have different formats and we put together what we want to say on it. My wife handles all the money, but we do hire an accountant to do the campaign funding reporting and accounting that’s required by state law. Mostly, however, we do the campaign as a family. I go to radio stations for interviews. I always like it to be me who is talking about what I believe and what issues I feel are important.”

Day said he has no opinion as to whether it’s better to do a campaign yourself, or have a campaign manager oversee it.

“For me, it just works to do it myself,” he said.

– Staff writer Pauline Schreiber may be reached at 333-3127 or

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