Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an author, community college instructor and radio producer from Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range.


Just like a century ago, there’s a class war in rural America, and the wrong side is winning

By: - December 16, 2020

Across Minnesota we hear the cannon fire of a culture war. Burgeoning resentments spill into our politics, creating entrenched factions that dig in even deeper when the fighting escalates. At least here in northern Minnesota, the rally call is “Our Way of Life.” “Our Way of Life” is much more than U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber’s […]


Bakk-assoni say they’re going “independent.” More like kept company men.

By: - November 18, 2020

Two longtime Iron Range state senators will leave the DFL caucus and form an independent caucus for the 2021 legislative session. State Sen. David Tomassoni of Chisholm and former DFL majority leader Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook made the announcement Wednesday.  The Republicans held a 34-33 majority in the State Senate. Now they’ll hold a […]


Cleaving Minnesota: Good news and bad for northern Democrats

By: - November 12, 2020

This year myriad media outlets ran some version of the headline “Will the Iron Range flip Minnesota to the GOP in 2020?” We could have assumed the answer was “no” based on population data, polling or even basic analysis of recent elections. That’s what I said at the time. But that didn’t stop anyone from […]


Talkin’ Iron Range turnin’ red blues

By: - October 6, 2020

I’m a trailer house kid from the Iron Range who donned a v-neck sweater and started writing about local politics and history.  To me, northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range has never been just one thing. Beautiful and harsh. Inspiring and depressing. Like many of my friends and family, I stayed. Like many others I could […]


If it’s to make a comeback, labor needs to look outside the halls of power and influence

By: - September 2, 2020

Rocks rain down onto a police car from an overpass. Masked men scatter as shots ring out, though the cops get a good look at one of them. Across town a worker is distraught. Does he go to work to feed his family or join the mob downtown? Both choices carry dangerous consequences. Meantime an […]


What the rest of Minnesota can learn from the Iron Range’s desperate, decades-long search for jobs

By: - August 4, 2020

I live along northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range, a place where the slogan, “jobs, jobs, jobs,” comprises a potent, if reductive political ethos. All problems would be solved if we had more jobs. Ergo: jobs, jobs, jobs.  Ironically, a writer could probably lay off two of the “jobs,” leaving just one “jobs” to do the […]


The mines will come back; many of the jobs won’t

By: - April 23, 2020

As three of the six remaining taconite mines in northern Minnesota announced temporary shutdowns in the past 10 days, I’ve been pulled back to the summer of 2000.  LTV Steel opened a new millennium on the Mesabi Iron Range by announcing that it would close its Hoyt Lakes taconite mine. I was an intern at […]


We call them “essential” workers now, but they’ve always been

By: - April 10, 2020

My mom is a childcare provider in northern Minnesota. She’s started doing that job after she raised my sisters and me. She specializes in infants because she loves babies. She loves babies a lot more than she likes money. I know this because she could earn more at Wal-Mart or a fast food restaurant than […]


Here’s what Politico got wrong about the Iron Range

By: - March 23, 2020

The national political publication Politico profiled the shifting political winds on northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. Reporter Adam Behsudi and photographer M. Scott Mahaskey toured the region a few weeks ago. Disclosure: I was among the sources interviewed. It hardly seems relevant now, given current events, but the piece is worth reading. At first blush, […]


Super Tuesday in the Land of 10,000 Pundits

By: - March 1, 2020

This would be a good time for me to tell you who I thought was going to win Minnesota’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday. I’d be making it up, though. Nobody knows. I can’t even tell you who’ll win my precinct, much less Itasca County or the 8th Congressional District. Polls show hometown favorite Sen. […]


The dueling realities of the Iron Range

By: - February 13, 2020

I’ve lived on the Iron Range my whole life, always within sight of the steam cloud from an iron ore mine. When I was young I wanted to leave the Range. As I got older I wanted to change the Range. But after 20-some years of writing about the place I find that my shirts […]


Analysis: What does Tom Bakk’s ouster tell us about labor and the Iron Range?

By: - February 3, 2020

ITASCA COUNTY — State Sen. Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) ousted Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook Saturday at a Senate Democratic-Farmer-Labor caucus meeting. Ironically, the rebellion took place in a carpenters’ union hall, the kind of place where Bakk built his Iron Range labor credentials. Kent will lead Senate Democrats as the legislature reconvenes Feb. […]