Many politicians conspicuously absent from Ely’s 4th of July parade

Election year or not, politicians have traditionally seemed to find Ely on their calendar when it comes to Fourth of July parades.
It hasn’t been uncommon to see candidates for any of an assortment of offices, from county board to state legislative seats, or even those running for statewide office or positions in Congress, in the Ely parade.
Parade-goers in recent years have seen the likes of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and former U.S. Sen. Al Franken shaking hands along the route.
So this, in the mother of all election years, figured to be a politics-lover’s delight.
After all, in Gilbert, at its July 3 parade, there were no less than 16 candidates for state office in the parade, including two of the three DFL candidates for governor, with the third (Lori Swanson) represented by Nolan, her lieutenant governor running mate.
Even U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, who is giving up his Congressional post to run for MInnesota Attorney General made his way to GIlbert to stump for Iron Range votes.
Those expecting a similar onslaught of politics in Ely’s parade this week, however, were in for a letdown.
Swanson was the only candidate for governor to make her way to Ely.
Klobuchar, a staple at so many Ely parades and the daughter of an Ely High School graduate, was conspicuously absent.
Even the red-hot race for Nolan’s soon to be vacant U.S. House seat, which has attracted five DFL primary contenders, a couple seeking the Republican nod and even an Independence Party candidate, failed to draw any hopefuls to Ely.
None of the DFL contenders - Jason Metsa, Michelle Lee, Joe Radinovich, Kirsten Kennedy or Soren Sorensen - decided to show up.
Neither did Republicans Pete Stauber or Harry Welty, or Independence candidate Skip Sandman.
Sure, the Eighth District is vast and candidates can only be in one spot at one time, but it seemed odd that none of the contenders were in town, particularly given past history, the size of Ely’s parade and the community’s status as “ground zero” in the fight over copper-nickel mining.
Perhaps the mining dispute, which included dueling marchers in the parade, kept the candidates away.
Swanson, who tapped Nolan as her running mate in a surprise bid for governor, needs Eighth District support - and a lot of it - if she is going to topple the metro-based ticket of state lawmakers Erin Murphy and Erin Maye Quade in the August DFL primary.
It’s no surprise she was in Ely or that she was represented in the other Range parades. The rest of the gubernatorial field was elsewhere.
Political junkies weren’t completely out in the cold in Ely, however.
Some of the candidates, including Klobuchar, had others marching on their behalf in Ely.
All but one of the seven candidates for St. Louis County Commissioner were part of Ely’s parade in some way.
Ely hopefuls Paul McDonald, Paul Kess and Mike Forsman were part of the event. So too were Bernie Metter of Embarrass and Cook’s Dan Manick.
Kristin Schlotec of Britt walked the route and handed out campaign materials and noisemakers.
The only one absent was Kristin Larsen, who is from the southern reaches of the district.
Do parade appearances translate into votes? There’s no real way to gauge but if nothing else they show a candidate’s interest in a particular area and provide a sneak peak into the strategy of a candidate.
Ely may not be a political hotbed or battleground.
That’s fine, and maybe even a welcome break.
Politics or not, we still had a heck of a parade and a grand July 4 celebration. There’s plenty of time yet to turn our attention to election season.