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The Race for Summit Avenue 2010

In Minnesota Political News on November 9, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Minus a potential re-count, its time for a general wrap-up of Minnesota’s 2010 gubernatorial election.

in terms of general speculation, this year’s gubernatorial election truly started on the back end of the 2008 election. In the DFL, more than 10 serious candidates began to enter the fray at the beginning of 2009. Two of those candidates were big city mayors currently running for another office at the time while deflecting questions concerning gubernatorial ambitions, one was the now out-going Speaker of the Minnesota State House of Representatives, many were current or former members of that same body, as well as the out-going Ramsey County Attorney and a retired U.S. Senator from one of Minnesota’s most well known dynastic families.

As the DFL field got the campaign under way, an impressive number of intra-party debates and Q & A sessions ensued giving the party faithful a far-reaching choice. From the Iron Range stalwarts Tommy Rukavina and Tom Bakk to the Twin Cities chief executives Chris Coleman and R.T. Rybak and Speaker Margaret Anderson-Kelliher, the party’s biggest names came out to battle for the state’s top job of which the party hadn’t held since the days of Rudy Perpich nearly 20 years past. In spite of some of the DFL’s rising stars though, former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton commanded the lead in early polling, proving his political career indeed had further to go.

Among the GOP candidates seeking the party’s endorsement, only 2 candidates stuck it out well into the 2010 caucus/convention season. At the height of the GOP campaign though, as many as 9 official and potential candidates were in the race. The list included former Speaker Steve Sviggum, House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, State Rep. from Victoria Paul Kohls, former State Auditor Pat Anderson, former State Rep. Bill Haas, State Senator David Hann, State Senator Mike Jungbauer, activist Leslie Davis, and of course State Rep. from Delano Tom Emmer. Just as the state’s DFL heavyweights came out, so did the GOP’s, as Republican activists had a stacked deck to find a standard-bearer to replace outgoing Governor Tim Pawlenty.

With the gubernatorial campaign season in full bloom, U.S. Rep.’s Michelle Bachman and Tim  Walz decided to forego a run at  Summit Avenue in favor of re-election to their respective offices in D.C. Soon thereafter, specualtion concerning a possible run by former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman was also put to rest, just as Coleman had been seen as the likely endorsee by many within the GOP ranks.

With the cuacus out of the way, DFLer’s had picked 2 among the several candidates as the convention season kicked in. Senate Districts across the state kept the politically minded focused as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher drew the majority of the support. With former State Sen. Steve Kelley dropping out of the race shortly after caucus night and candidates Mark Dayton, Matt Entenza, and Susan Gaertner pushing for the primary, the DFL State Convention battle came down to just Rybak and Kelliher. In the end, Rybak bowed out respectfully and Speaker Kelliher walked away with the DFL endorsement.

The GOP endosement in contrast was a bit less hectic and proved to be the final say as the endorsement battle came down. In a year in which Tea-Party favorites rode the anti-incumbant wave to success nationwide, so too was it with Minnesota’s GOP. By the end of the endorsing convention, Tea Party favorite Tom Emmer had won the endorsement over House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, much to the chagrin of the local pundits.

The convention season ended in late April with Rep. Emmer gaining his stride for the summer. On the DFL side, however, Speaker Kelliher had to face Matt Entenza and Mark Dayton in the August 10th primary to become the true DFL nominee. Though a three-way race for the party’s nomination was thought to be a much greater news story as summer continued on, it would be Emmer himself stirring the pot and ultimately creating the most interest with a gaffe calling out the ire of the states food service waitstaff. To be fair, Rep. Emmer was open to suggestions on the minimum-wage to tip issue and even put himself in the line of fire to meet openly with those employed in the industry, but the politcal problem of message management (rather mismanagement) continued. With Mark Dayton seizing the DFL endorsement by the narrowest of margins in the DFL primary, Emmer could now focus on a single opponent with hopes of renewing his image and re-introducing himself to the voting public.

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