Although the election turnout was pathetic, as in any election the only question is “who” shows up to vote ?
Assuming that DFLers were serious about selecting their candidate, was there any mischief generated by MN-GOP cross-over voters ?
The August 10th election had three types of contests – those that were non-partisan elections, non-competitive political party primaries and competitive political party primaries. The non-partisan elections were the “whittle-down” type … for example five people competing for County Commission will be whittled down to two for the General Election. The outcome for the MN-GOP was pretty much assured with only the contest for Attorney General actually offering any choice (the endorsed candidate Chris Bardon winning by 8% over Sharon “Anderson”.) On the DFL side, the election was dominated by the choice for Governor.
IMO, the next Governor will be determined by some key counties.
Olmsted County, which includes Rochester, is one key. In that county, the parties had determined their candidates for the MN-01, so the only race with meaning was the DFL gubernatorial contest. Margaret Anderson Kelliher won the county 40.9% to Mark Dayton’s 39.0%. Without an intra-party challenger for Tim Walz, no evaluation for cross-over can be evaluated.
Another key county is Anoka. The county contains parts of MN-06 and MN-05. On the Congressional side, MN-06 is represented by Michelle Bachmann (R) while Keith Ellison (D) is the incumbent in MN-05. While the MN-GOP did not have primary challengers, the DFL primary did — sorta. In MN-06, Tarryl Clark “was” being challenged by Dr. Maureen Reed …. “was” because Dr. Reed had terminated her campaign but her name had remained on the ballot. In MN-05, Congressman Ellison had two challengers – Barb Davis-White and Gregg Iverson. Ms. Davis-White had previously been defeated by Congressman Ellison in the 2008 general election as the MN-GOP nominee … but now she is competing in the DFL primary.
Now, it is not unusual for an incumbent that has a token challenger to have some voters express disapproval … for example, Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) got 86.6% of the vote; Jim Oberstar (D-MN-08) got 80.5% while Congressman Ellison won with 81.6%. So a token challenger could get 20% vote just be being on the ballot.
Let’s look at the MN-05 contest first, Congressman Ellison got only 62.8% of the vote in Anoka County. And in MN-06, Tarryl Clark got 63.2%.
In the DFL gubernatorial contest, MAK got 35% of the vote while Mark Dayton dominated at 46.5%.
Were DFL voters in Anoka County sending a message or were there cross-over voters causing mischief ?
Looking back at 2008 election results, Ms. Bachmann enjoyed her largest margin over her Democrat challenger in Anoka County …. Somehow, my gut tells me that Anoka County won’t be as kind to Mark Dayton in November as it was in the primary. Considering how quickly the MN-GOP has launched attack ads against Mark Dayton, the question has to be raised as to whether there was cross-over voters seeking to influence the DFL primary.
Dayton may still have won … but it sure looks funny.
With a Dayton win by less than 7,000 votes statewide, the November ballot is set … yet the question should be asked : is there a better way ? I would suggest that political parties have “closed” primaries which require a voter to declare that they are a member of the party … is it possible for mischief to still occur by people “masking” themselves for primary voting and then voting differently in the general election … sure, but it may be reduced … since the political parties generally have members assigned to monitor the voting, those questionable voters could be challenged.
This time the finger is being pointed at the MN-GOP, but next time it could be pointed at the DFL … it’s a subject worth discussing.