Asking the $86,000 Question

Tom Emmer offered some interesting observations during the campaign …
– We live in a world where spending beyond our means is not an option
– The elimination of wasteful government spending starts with the elected officials who are the watchdogs of the state taxpayer dollar
– Put the people first – not government bureaucracies, elected officials
– Balance the state budget by making government live within its means

Well, Mr. Emmer there is a potential $86,000 of taxpayer dollars that you could stop us from wasting … the cost of a recount.
Taxpayers should pay for the cost of the elections and to certify the results … but after that the candidates have an option to not request a recount. There are some races that are very close … such as David Bly and Kelby Woodard in HD-25-B that has a margin in the 30 vote range … the Minnesota Governor’s contest is not in that margin … it’s not even in the hundreds of votes … by the percentage it may be close but with a reported margin of 8,755 that is not close.

It’s a simple question, is spending $86,000 to recount what was certified (after the results have already been reviewed at least once) a good expenditure of the taxpayer’s dollars ?

Thus far, I have heard two common refrains regarding the election results …

#1. From MN-GOP’s Tony Sutton : “Something doesn’t smell right when you take control of the state House, you take control of the state Senate, we win Congressional districts, folks, and yet somehow, somehow, we don’t win the governor’s race.”
Well, Mr. Sutton, have you heard the expression “all politics is local” ? Contrary to what Mr. Sutton may want to think but not all people do vote a straight party ticket … I voted for some DFLers, an IP candidate and even some Republicans … we vote on the candidates offered. State legislature contests are local which may have no bearing on state-wide races. In case Mr. Sutton did not notice, the MN-GOP candidates for Secretary of State, State Auditor and State Attorney General all lost by a minimum of 25,000 votes.
Local races are different than statewide contests. Turnout is the key … and the Republican House Caucus invested wisely to get the outcome they wanted … it dumped $20,760 to $32,800 into 22 races … it won 21 … plus count the monies funded through outside groups like TakebackMinnesota, Coalition of Minnesota Businesses (for example spending $31,000 to help Republican challenger Dan Fabian defeat Dave Olin in HD-01-A, or the $14,900 expended against Marsha Swails in (HD-56-B) producing a win for Andrea Kieffer.) Plus the Voices of Conservative Women which did two mailings in HD-38-A resulting in the defeat of Sandy Masin and victory for Diane Anderson.
As noted in a Politics in Minnesota story, if five House races had a swing of less than 700 votes, it would have resulted in the DFL holding the majority.
Those races might be symptomatic of what happened … it wasn’t that the MN-GOP performed so well, but instead that the DFL just did not get the voters to participate.
Look at HD-1-B, where Representative Lieder received 8,191 votes in 2006 (the last gubernatorial election year) versus the Republican opponent’s 6,139. In 2010, the Republican won getting 6,528 … so an increase of 389 votes … rather insignificant … but Bernie Leider only received 6,397 meaning that he lost 1,794 votes versus 2006 … the result was that the overall participation was down … meaning Apathy Won !
A similar pattern in HD-42-A where Representative Maria Rudd’s 2006 vote tally of 9,963 shrunk to 8,582 in 2010 while the Republican candidate’s tallies went up from 8,131 to 8,689 …. Essentially, the overall participation was down but the MN-GOP slight increases in voter support were enough to change some districts.
Obviously, David Bly in HD-25-B and Representative Robin Brown in HD-27-A had razor thin margins in the past, so this year being extremely competitive should not be a surprise …
Add to that the number of Independent Party candidates and at least one true independent, John Grimm in SD-25 who got 4,516 votes or 13%, the need to get your base out is critical.
Another factor was that the DFL ignored too many districts … as they had trouble getting candidates. This may have been the first time that the MN-GOP fielded challengers in every district. In my Senate District, the DFL did not field a candidate … that obviously did not help the House candidate … but that’s another problem … from when the yard signs started to appear, I never once saw one campaign sign for her … nor did I receive any mailer or campaign literature on her candidacy …. Why should I vote for her, when I don’t know even know her name until I saw it on the ballot (and BTW, she did not get my vote, it went to the Independence Party candidate who I was contacted to support.)
Another district is HD-21-B where after a Republican retirement in 2008, there was an open seat … the District went for McCain (54%-42%) but the Republican Paul Torkelson won the House seat by a scant 525 votes … this year, Torkelson did not have a challenger.
DFL incompetence and APATHY gave easy victories to the MN-GOP … my pre-election projection had Mr. Emmer getting 922,347 votes … currently the tally is 910,459. I underestimated Tom Horner’s numbers projecting 215,625 versus the reported 251,485 … but where I really was off was on Mark Dayton’s tally … projecting him to be at 1,000,996 versus the reported 919,214 … IMO, APATHY won and Mr. Emmer’s numbers are well within reason … no “bad smell” here.

#2. Mr. Sutton, and echoed by Mr. Emmer, have complained about that early vote reporting results had incorrect numbers especially from Hennepin County.
Well, that’s why they are “preliminary”. There the “smell test” makes sense … when I saw the early reporting for the MN-03 Congressional race, Erik Paulsen’s numbers were more than I anticipated for the total district and his challenger also had extremely high numbers … I knew something was wrong … and eventually it was adjusted although the television reporting still showed the higher numbers after 2AM when they ceased their live broadcast.
Preliminary” is preliminary … and this happens in virtually ever contest … the numbers reported on election night are confirmed and revised before being certified. Most of us never notice the difference because it’s not the number that we want to know, but instead who won … in most contests, the margins are wide enough that it does not change the outcome … just the margin.

Let’s give the counties time to review their reports and certify the results … then determine if there is any reason to perform a recount. The recount will cost taxpayers money … it’s the $86,000 question that needs to be factored. Unless Mr. Emmer can reasonably suggest how over 8,000 votes will be changed, he should ask the State to not perform a recount … that is his prerogative. Other candidates have done it in the past.

Mr. Emmer think of the taxpayers.

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