State of the Union seat: Ely council member Dan Forsman attends presidential address

by Tom Coombe -

As President Trump delivered the State of the Union Address Tuesday night, one Ely resident had a birds-eye view.
City council member Dan Forsman was in the gallery, as a special guest of a Minnesota U.S. House member, when Trump addressed a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C.
“It was one of those things that happen once in a lifetime,” Forsman said Wednesday, shortly after returning to Minnesota. “I was sitting just to the president’s left, right up next to the media. If you were watching on TV, I would have been up to the right up in the balcony or gallery.”
Forsman was an invited guest of U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, a Minnesota Republican and author of the MINER Act, legislation favorable to copper-nickel mining development that passed the U.S. House in late-2017.
During a whirlwind day in the nation’s capital, Forsman and his older brother Mike had lunch with Emmer and attended several pre and post-State of the Union receptions, including one hosted by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California).
“It was definitely an honor,” said Forsman. “We went to some receptions beforehand, one with the Western Foundation Caucus and one at the Library of Congress.”
Forsman was also right in the gallery during the address, seated with other guests and Congressional spouses.
The first-term Ely council member also rubbed shoulders with members of Congress, met television’s Bill Nye the Science Guy and secured a ticket perhaps even more scarce than those for this weekend’s Super Bowl.
Each member of Congress may invite one person as a guest, according to Emmer.
Emmer said he decided to invite Forsman last December after reading a much-publicized New York Times article - which focused on the copper-nickel mining controversy in northeastern Minnesota.
Forsman was the subject of critical remarks from anti-mining activist and Ely area resident Becky Rom.
Emmer said he felt Forsman was treated unfairly by Rom, who later apologized for a series of remarks attributed to her, including one that charged Forsman “drives to the mine in his truck, comes home and watches TV, and he doesn’t know this world exists,” in reference to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
“We can all have our disagreements on policy,” said Emmer, who visited Ely last June and has become a prominent advocate for copper-nickel development in the region.
Emmer said Rom’s remarks, however, disparaged Forsman and other miners as “beer-drinking, four-wheeling (and) ignorant,” and offer a clue to the success Trump enjoyed in rural areas, including across the usually-Democratic Iron Range.
“During the campaign, President Trump spoke to the people he called the forgotten men and women of this country,” said Emmer. “I suspected (Forsman) is the kind of individual the president has been talking about the last year-and-a-half.”
Forsman said that meshed with his initial conversation with Emmer nearly two months ago.
Tuesday, Forsman observed a Trump address that he said “from the vibe I noticed seemed pretty well received (although) there were a handful on the floor who never stood up and clapped.”
Less than 24 hours after the address, Forsman had arrived back in Minnesota by air and was driving home, describing his experience as “a lot of running around and not a lot of down time, but definitely worthwhile and impressive.”
Forsman’s visit to the State of the Union came 14 months after he was embroiled in his own controversy related to the presidential election.
In December, 2016, Forsman publicly apologized for a posting an election-related Facebook meme that stirred outrage in some circles and prompted some calls for his resignation.
Forsman had posted a meme, on a private group for supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, that featured the photo of suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian.

JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY READS THE ELY ECHO including U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer and Ely city council member Dan Forsman at the State of the Union event.