The Corner

Back to Minnesota

A few Minnesota Republicans wrote in about my post yesterday:

First email:

Ramesh, what is your source for the nonsense that Klobuchar’s lead over

Kennedy in the Mn Senate race has anything to do with primary battles? 

She faced three opponents, none of whom made a dent in her- see Wiki


confirming that Wetterling and Ciresi dropped out early, and the other

trust fund baby nut, Ford Bell, gave up before Summer as well.

Klobuchar is (unfortunately) winning not because of any bad strategies

by the RNC or Cheney, but because this has not been a race form the

beginning, it has been a coronation:

1) She has been openly, blatantly promoted from the beginning by her

father’s long time employer, the StarTribune, in a manner so overt it is

amazing; love letter after love letter on the front page

2) As Hennepin County Attorney, she gets check marks for being opposed

to crime, regardless of her actual record (“catch and release”, the

fishing term, is the popular description for Minneapolis courts)

3) She is a non-abrasive female, kind of dumpy, pleasant demeanor,

running against a WASP male with beady eyes in a state where the female

vote tends to dominate, and has designed the campaign (to cover a lack

of policy substance) that is all fuzzy feel-good, featuring hugs from

her daughter.

She actually is in good shape BECAUSE she didn’t face viable opposition,

and began her campaign in January, with the last unimportant obstacle

gone by June.

Your Corner post is uncharacteristically nonsense.

BTW, Pawlenty’s problem is mostly desertion by Republicans calling him a

RINO, not loss of support in the middle.  Because he didn’t veto the

baseball stadium bill, and  local property taxes are up because the

economy is good (the property values jumped massively, and every school

district spent the money instead of normalizing the rates; surprise,

surprise), the Allen Quist wing of the Mn Republican Party (the same

gang that dumped successful chair Ron Eibensteiner in favor of mediocre

Ron Carey-

is sitting it out.  I actually heard a guy call in on the radio

complaining that Pawlenty isn’t conservative enough (he is as

conservative as is possible to win statewide office here, where Norm

Coleman has to promote ethanol and oppose ANWR) because we still have

abortion in Minnesota.  You can’t reason with a guy like that about more

oblique arguments over the alternative being worse.  Minnesota

Republicans, like national Republicans, are split between the far right

perfectionists and the more Hewitt-ish center-right realists.  You have

to compromise in a purple state,  but that is anathema to the


Second email:

Minnesota is not that good for the GOP this year, for the reasons you state. But for a couple of other reasons besides (listed roughly in order from weakest to strongest):

– Wellstone. People here miss him, a LOT. That factor cannot be ignored. Barely a day goes by when I do not see a bumper sticker bearing his name.

– Star Tribune. To be blunt, it’s a left-wing rag. It also is evidently the most prominent local newspaper.

– Traffic. The message of cutting government out of our lives is nice in the abstract – truly, in most practical respects – but I cannot overstate how antiquated and inadequate a lot of our freeways have become. The Crosstown – where I-35 and Hwy 62 come together – has been a royal mess since the 60’s, and definite plans to improve it have stalled for lack of funding, under Pawlenty. I know of no true improvement in any roadway under Pawlenty. I know of bad roads that received maintenance, and bad roads that didn’t. So the message is clear: A vote for Pawlenty is a vote for traffic at least this bad and possibly worse.

Moreover, the recent stadium bill didn’t help. The unspoken message is that if we build a new stadium, the state of the roads that day will be the best they’ll be for some time, because any extra monies will go to the stadium. At least under a GOP governor, that’s perceived to be the case.

– Education. Along with the traffic, this is an area where the Minnesota GOP has some ‘splainin’ to do. A few years back, Minnesota cut funding for a “high fives” program for some area kids who were just young enough to not start kindergarten that year. Again, for a party calling itself the party of responsibility, cutting funds to low-income people wanting to get kids into school earlier is not responsible.

Schools First was formed for this very reason: To make sure that funding to schools was kicked up a notch. While not expressly a left-wing organization, it definitely benefits the left more than the right. And educators got out front on this right away, well before this election cycle. It’s not expressly political, but the feeling of many going into the gubernatorial election is that Hatch (the Democrat) would benefit schools more than Pawlenty.

– Bush. The state has never collectively voted for a man named Bush for president. No offense, but Iraq and his competence in general haven’t helped. This puts any GOP candidate in a pickle.

Now, all three people you mention (especially Pawlenty) still have a lot to offer. I don’t live in the sixth, so Bachmann is the Republican I know the least about. However, Klobuchar has been consistently a big name in terms of bringing justice to offenders and embracing community concerns. I predict Klobuchar wins, and Pawlenty might, might squeak by.

You may also want to check out Jay Reding on this topic.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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