By Esme Murphy

EDINA, Minn. (WCCO) – U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen is taking heat for being a no-show at Edina’s Fourth of July parade.

The Republican was listed in the official online parade program, including the one that was distributed Tuesday morning.

John Swon, the chair of the parade, said that a Paulsen representative called him Sunday to say that the congressman had a scheduling conflict and would not be able to attend the parade.

Swon says by then it was too late to change the program, which had Paulsen back-to-back with another congressman, Democrat Keith Ellison.

On Tuesday, Paulsen’s spokesperson, Andrew Johnson, wrote to WCCO-TV, saying that since it was an “off year,” the congressman didn’t plan on appearing in the parade.

“As was the case two years ago in the last off year, he didn’t participate then either, so nothing new here,” Johnson said. “I think it’s more of an on-year versus off-year thing.”

Paulsen’s no-show left an opening for his critics, as protesters took his place in the parade.

“Our congressman didn’t show, so we are here instead,” said Clara Severson, who said she lives in Paulsen’s district.

She added: “He never has town halls, he didn’t show up to this, so we decided to take his place.”

Swon called the protesters “parade crashers” and said they should not have taken the congressman’s spot.

Looking exuberant in the Paulsen vacuum was his possible 2018 DFL opponent, Twin Cities businessman Dean Phillips.

Phillips shook hands along the parade route, thanking people for coming out to the parade. Phillips also brought in some star power: former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Phillips blasted Paulsen for not being at the Fourth of July celebration.

“One of the first responsibilities of representation is showing up and that is why I am here,” Phillips said.

Paulsen has faced a string of protests for his lack of in-person town hall meetings since the November election.

According to Larry Jacobs, a political analyst, Fourth of July parades are “must-show political events.”

But he also says Paulsen, who cruised to victory last November, remains a formidable candidate even though Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in his congressional district by almost 10 points.

“Dean Phillips is new to this,” he said, “and his odds are very long to beat a well-established incumbent.”

Esme Murphy

Comments (10)
  1. Representative Democracy means showing up. Paulsen refuses to do that. And what is this ‘on year off year” nonsense. That means he only plays attention to his constituents when it is an election year?

  2. Phillips isn’t a long shot. Erik Paulsen doesn’t care about the 370,000 women in his district and will not win in 2018.

  3. Good for these concerned citizens from the 3rd district who are standing up for the ideals of the Constitution…a ‘representative’ democracy. Where is the CD3 representative, Erik Paulsen?

  4. Mary Yee says:

    Thanks for the coverage of the no-show Paulsen. He doesn’t seem to think he needs to meet with his constituents either, as he hasn’t had a town hall in seven years. C’mon, Erik; you need to hear from us.

  5. I believe Erik Paulsen is a good man and has done a fine job as a congressman. TOWN HALLS ARE OVER PEOPLE! In your face, yelling, lying, threatening, paid thugs from the left has murdered free speech and dialogue in this country. Media helps the left by bias coverage each and every time. May the good Lord have mercy on the country.

  6. Michael Tate says:

    How can you claim to be a representative if you keep running away from your constituents? And a family reunion? Either A) He knew about this in advance and didn’t have the common courtesy of letting the parade organizer know, or B) He got physically sick about the concept of seeing and hearing from people in his district. Rep Paulsen, you are in the wrong line of work.

  7. Paulsen was registered to march in the parade and did not show. He has not had an in person town all in seven years. Why is he unwilling to talk to those of us he represents? He may have started his career as a “good man” (I voted for him twice believing that was the case) but his votes show he is a rubber stamp for the Trump agenda.

    His vote for the disastrous AHCA shows he values his donors and party leaders over his constituents. Time for him to be replaced.

    Now more than ever we NEED a rep who votes for what is best for our district and America, not one that enables Trump and shows up for photo ops but can’t be counted on to keep his word and do what is best for his country instead of his party (or political future in the GOP).

  8. Rep. Paulsen is betting that his large corporate donors will see him to victory in 2018. He is mistaken though. Money can not beat passion and sweat. Paulsen’s lack of visibility and lack of representation in the 3rd Congressional District has awoken the anger of thousands. No amount of corporate dollars can compete against this passionate anger. He failed to show in the Edina parade and he will learn to regret this decision.