Iron Range editor blasts “Metro-centric” Sen. Smith

The dean of Iron Range editors has issued the equivalent of a Surgeon General’s warning over the implications of Sen. Tina Smith’s rise to power for northern Minnesota. Recently retired Mesabi Daily News Executive Editor Bill Hanna didn’t mince words in his latest column headlined “Metro-Centric Smith Should Concern Most Iron Rangers.”

Tina Smith is a nice, charming and engaging person.

Those three qualities help make for a prolific political fundraiser, something Minnesota’s soon-to-be newest U.S. senator does with great energy and success. That will serve DFL Party leadership well.

But Smith, who will be sworn into the Senate on Tuesday after Sen. Al Franken steps down because of sexual misconduct allegations, is also a very metro-centric politician. And that should concern a vast majority of Iron Rangers who believe the region’s economic present and future are strongly tied to mining/logging and land use issues.

It’s been a ritual for Minnesota’s political movers and shakers to cultivate Hanna’s endorsement over his 40 years in the newspaper business. But Smith clearly got off on the wrong foot in their initial meeting in 2014.

She admitted to not knowing much about the proposed PolyMet and Twin Metals copper/nickel mining projects and had yet to even talk or meet with officials of those two companies.

But she would be doing so, she assured. Not exactly a vote of confidence for a new era of mining on the Range.

Smith has followed Dayton’s lead in endorsing PolyMet’s takeover of the old LTV operation near Hoyt Lakes and opposing the enormous economic opportunities under the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine near Ely.

But the Range needs a modern-day mining/logging/land use promoter in the Senate, not a reluctant follower or, worse yet, a reliable “no” vote.

Smith connects well with Twin Cities Progressives who show off their penmanship when writing checks for liberal causes. She will definitely do the same on a national level.

But Progressives don’t like mining, even though they relish their computers, vehicles, medical devices and cell phones that are only made possible by minerals extracted from below the ground.

It’s all so odd — don’t you dare mine, but do make sure we’ve got plenty of tools to connect with the Internet. And you better not mess with my Facebook Page abilities.

It’s like believing milk just magically appears in stores in cartons, without the aid of cows.

Hanna’s civics lesson underscored the importance of our state’s congressional delegation by noting how Alaska’s elected representatives leveraged their support for the tax cut bill to finally open up ANWR to oil exploration.

Oh how terrible, most Democrats and environmentalists bemoaned. Yes, how terrible to open about 1.5 million acres of the 19.6 million-acre ANWR to help the Alaskan and U.S. economies while allowing the country to become a global oil exporter, not a beholden importer.

Heck, even the caribou, which populate ANWR, have no problem with such development. They welcomed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline decades ago — their numbers growing not declining, despite Armageddon warnings otherwise by environmentalists and their political supporters.

Hanna’s scorn for the self-absorbed environmentalism of urban elites reveals the depth of disillusionment among many northern Minnesotans over the DFL’s disconnect with their way of life.