Drake University Independent News Editor-in-Chief Carl Yaeger is running for a seat in the Minnesota legislature this fall. He announced his candidacy for Minnesota House District 52B through social media on Labor Day.
Yaeger intentionally chose this holiday to announce his campaign, celebrating the working class and expressing his support for unions in the caption.
“Unions build a state and country worth living in,” Yaeger wrote in an Instagram post announcing his candidacy. “In the state house, I cannot wait to fight for organized labor as hard as corporate lobbyists and union-busters fight against them.”
Yaeger, a senior majoring in politics, is running in a special election to replace former Rep. Ruth Richardson, who resigned on Sept. 1. Richardson was named CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States last fall and is stepping down to give her full attention to this position.
The district, near Minneapolis, covers Mendota Heights and Eagan. On Monday, Sept. 11 Gov. Tim Walz announced the special election will take place on Dec. 5. Three candidates, including Yaeger, have already joined the race, the other two being Jay Miller and Cynthia Callais, both Democrats. Yaeger had previously planned on running for this seat in 2024 when Richardson’s term ended, as he did not expect her to run for re-election.
“Her sudden resignation last Friday put an accelerated timeline on the table, but I decided I had enough to offer that I should run,” Yaeger said.
In his candidacy announcement, Yaeger expressed his admiration for Richardson’s work while in office.
“This campaign follows in the footsteps of [Richardson], whose tireless work in the legislature is an inspiration,” Yaeger wrote.
Yaeger’s candidacy announcement was not completely unexpected for senior Ryan Pont, DUiN’s current Art Director. Yaeger and Pont have worked together on the publication for years and have both held leadership positions since the end of their first year at Drake. Pont recounted how the DUiN staff reacted when Yaeger announced his candidacy.
“He’s a very politically-minded person, and we all knew that he wanted to be doing stuff in government,” Pont said.
Yaege first became interested in politics following the 2016 election and began to focus on state-level politics in 2020. He worked on Rep. Liz Reyer’s 2020 and 2022 campaigns and interned for her in the state House in the spring of 2022. Yaeger believes these experiences have prepared him to run his own campaign and serve as a state representative.
Like Richardson, Yaeger is a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. The DFL is affiliated with the Democratic Party in Minnesota but focuses on more progressive policies. Yaeger’s platform includes environmental protections, gun control and expanding LGBTQ+ rights.
Another of Yaeger’s objectives is supporting unions. He believes the recent successes and support unions have had nationwide can be attributed to the current political climate, but Yaeger believes this climate also poses many threats.
“The radical and anti-democratic right is becoming more dangerous. Democracy itself really is under threat in a way we haven’t seen in a long time,” Yaeger said. “That’s got to be dealt with, fast and firmly.”
Yaeger’s motivation for running for this seat is to provide representation in the legislature. He believes the government should actively represent the people, and representation includes age.
“We will, of course, be living with the effects of climate change much longer than most of the people making climate policy. We are more likely to be victims of school shootings because we’re the ones in the schools. We’re the ones who suffer the consequences of right-wing paranoia about curricula, and we should be on the front lines to stop it,” Yaeger said.
Yaeger would also bring autistic representation to Minnesota politics. According to Yaeger, if elected, he would be one of only three autistic legislators in the country and the only one in Minnesota.
“My autism gives me a unique perspective on things like education and accessibility, two of the areas I’d most like to focus on in the legislature,” Yaeger said. “It also means I look at problems differently than most people, always a valuable asset in legislating.”
Pont emphasized that Yaeger does not hesitate to fight for what he is passionate about.
“I think if he does not get this it will not be the end of his career,” Pont said. “We’ll be seeing him on the ballot…a lot in the future.”
Yaeger plans to work with his professors and the university to balance his classwork, DUiN editorship and political campaign. If elected, Yaeger would suspend his education to serve his constituents.
“I have not designed my life around the idea of running for office,” Yaeger said, “But the opportunity has opened up at what could be a prime moment.”