Gun control activist returning to St. Paul to raise money for swing-district Dems

DFL senators Grant Hauschild and Rob Kupec won’t face re-election until 2026, but Democrats are already raising money for them in districts that could determine control of the Senate.

gun control
DFL senators Grant Hauschild and Rob Kupec won’t face re-election until 2026, but Democrats are already raising money for them in districts that could determine control of the Senate.

Gun control activist and former Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is set to make her third trip to St. Paul in 2023 — this time to help fundraise for two DFL senators from northern Minnesota who represented swing votes on a pair of gun control laws that passed in the legislature in May.

A Night of Hope: Celebrate a Historic Session in Combatting Gun Violence in Minnesota,” was originally scheduled to take place Wednesday, Nov. 1 at Lake Monster Brewing.

The fundraiser for six DFL legislators was postponed a few days ago without official mention as to a reason why.

WCCO Radio personality Blois Olson is reporting that President Joe Biden will visit the Twin Cities that day. DFL House and Senate caucus communications staff did not return inquiries asking about whether Biden’s anticipated visit might be the reason for the postponed fundraiser.

Two of the intended beneficiaries of the Giffords-headlined fundraiser are DFL senators Grant Hauschild of Hermantown and Rob Kupec of Moorhead, who represented swing votes on the controversial gun control measures passed in the Senate along party lines.

For the first several weeks of the 2023 legislative session, both Kupec and Hauschild played it somewhat close to the vest as to whether they would support the measures — universal background checks and extreme risk protection orders — that many Second Amendment activists — including the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus — have roundly opposed.

“Grant Hauschild pretended to be a moderate by saying that some gun control measures were ‘too far reaching,’ but now he’s schmoozing with a gun control extremist who said ‘No more guns. Gone,'” the Gun Owners Caucus said in response to the news of Giffords’ visit.

In March Giffords engaged in a whistle stop tour at the legislature, advocating for passage of the laws. Then in May both Kupec and Hauschild voted green on both measures in a Senate where Democrats held just a one-seat majority.

“I came to the conclusion that we have to do something,” Hauschild told media in May, just days before the Senate took up a vote on both measures. “There have been far too many school shootings. There has been far too much gun violence in our streets. And so background checks and the extreme risk protection orders made sense to make sure that we are addressing these where we can.”

In May Giffords returned to the Capitol and spoke briefly at a ceremony where Gov. Tim Walz signed the measures into law.

At some point this fall (the event has yet to be rescheduled) attendees of the fundraiser can get in the door at Lake Monster Brewing with $100 donation. Another $250 and you can grab a photo with both Giffords and Walz.

Other legislators listed on the flyer include Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, who led the senate public safety committee that moved the gun control bills through the legislature, and three DFL house members, Kelly Moeller, Cedrick Frazier and Dave Pinto. While legislators in the House all are due for election in 2024, members of the senate, who have four-year terms, won’t face election again until 2026.

But Hauschild and Kupec, specifically, come from districts that are likely to be competitive for Republicans looking to flip the Senate back in their favor in three years.

Hauschild won election last November in the northern Minnesota Senate District 3 by 704 votes. That was an open seat previously held by longtime legislator Tom Bakk. Kupec won his seat by about 5 percent over a Republican who faced a string of attack ads from the DFL Senate Caucus that were roundly criticized after they ran in local media.


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.