Archive for the ‘Minnesota Political News’ Category

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.



Just like Franken/Coleman? Not quite!

In Minnesota Political News on November 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm


With mid-term 2010 over, Minnesotans awake today to learn that once again the election is not truly over, at least for us. Tom Emmer and Mark Dayton have found themselves and the state on the heels of an automatic recount in the Minnesota governor’s race. While it is easy to herald this as the second coming of the Franken/Coleman recount of just two years ago, the numbers are vastly different this time.

On the morning of November 5th, 2008, Norm Coleman held a 725 vote lead over Al Franken with 2.9 million ballots cast. This represents far less than one-half of one percent of ballots cast. In contrast, the Dayton/Emmer divide is just under 9000 votes at 8,854 and approximately 2 million votes cast. The margin is just on the cusp of one half of one percent, thus triggering an automatic recount under state law. Simply put the Franken/Coleman recount had almost 50 percent more votes cast with a margin of roughly 10% of that of Dayton/Emmer.  The numbers between these races are just not similar enough and the statistical odds are far easier to discern when comparing Dayton/Emmer to Franken/Coleman.

To put a greater perspective on this, lets consider some figures from Accordingly, only 18 statewide recounts have occurred in the U.S. between 2000-2009 and of those only 3 have produced a change in the electoral outcome. Statistically this results in 1 out of every 961 races in that time period. On a percentage basis, this equates to a near one-tenth of one percent that such an occurence has come to pass. Further adding to mix, research tells us that the average change in the vote margin in recounts is 276 votes on statewide races studied between 1980 and 2006. This means that the average change in vote margin in that time was 0.041 percent. In Minnesota’s 2010 gubernatorial race, the margin was nearly 0.5 percent, at the edge of an automatically triggered recount. Simply put, despite the pundits and polemicists, the odds do not look good for Tom Emmer.

2010 Mid-Term Predictions

In Minnesota Political News on October 29, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Well everyone, with the mid-term elections just 4 days away, its time for some predictions. Its important to note that I’m a bit left of center as political leanings, though my predictions will be made to eliminate a liberal bias. For those who believe I should be stumping for a DFL Candidate here, please remember I’ve done my time in the trenches door-knocking, phone-calling, at parades, and even a start-up Draft campaign for this years gubernatorial election. This analysis is based upon the trends I see and the numbers.

First up, the Minnesota Governor’s race. I will be voting for Mark Dayton personally and I also think he’s going to win. With this race, I believe Dayton will keep enough support in the Twin Cities coupled with continuing strong support outstate and particularly the Iron Range and parts north of the metro region. Dayton has led in the polls consistently, though narrow at times. In fact the up and down swing of the polls suggest that many of  Minnesota’s notoriously independent minded voting base is still divided in large part. The exception of course will be in the 6th Congressional District.

In the First Congressional District, Tim Walz will be re-elected. Walz’s more likable personal qualities combined with his pragmatic policy approach will continue in Southern Minnesota possibly for as long as he wants the job. Walz’s consistent lead in the polls in recent weeks with a 4 point jump just recently, makes this an easy one to call.

In the Second Congressional Distict, I see John Kline staying on top. Kline’s more conservative approach and message of fiscal responsibility remains a strong pull for voters in the Southern Metro Region. Without any traction in the media and a splintered democratic base, Shelley Madore is in a very weak position to challenge Kline.

For the Third Congressional District, I’m going with Erik Paulson to edge out Jim Meffert. Dispite seemmingly superfluous sparring over medicare benefits and healthcare reform, this district leans Republican. Keep in mind that Obama won here in 2008 with 53% though, making this a swing district for now and the foreseeable future. Where have you gone Jim Ramstad? A district turns its lonely eyes to you.

The Fourth and Fifth Congressional Districts of Minnesota are possibly among the easiest to predict nationwide as Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum have solid democratic bases in Minnesota’s most urban districts. With that said some news of note in the 4th District includes Theresa Collett sparring with Betty McCollum over the phrase “under God” which, not surpisingly, rouses a debate over separation of church and state vis-a-vis the First Amendment. Meanwhile, Keith Ellison is battling not in a tight race, but a racist with Tea Party heavyweight Judson Phillips calling for an end to his membership in Congress simply because he is a Muslim for it is a faith that says, according to Phillips, “kill people who disagree with you,” and “that is something voters should seriously consider when they vote.” Obviously Phillips has never met Rep. Ellison, nor made any effort to understand Islam.

In Minnesota’s 6th District, Tarryl Clark and Michele Bachmann have waged the most vitriolic campaign of the year. The polls say Bachmann will win this one, but not without raising and spending more money than any congressional campaign in Minnesota history. Experts suggest Bachmann’s war-chest allows for greater political freedom and planning. While this may be true, Bachmann could never win a race in Minnesota outside of the 6th Dsitrict and for that reason, a Senate run or greater seems unlikely, but Bachmann will surely surprise us nonetheless.

In Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District, the call is for Colin Peterson in a not-so-tight race with Lee Byberg. Though a conservative district for the most part, the 7th District has found the DFL version of Jim Ramstad in Colin Peterson. Peterson will most likely be in a safe seat in the near-term if not longer.

Coming down in the 8th Conressional District of Minnesota, we find Jim Oberstar in a tighter than expected race with Republican Chip Cravaack. The Iron Range has been a DFL stronghold for decades, but the current polarized political climate may be slowly changing all of that.

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