OK, I am going to offer up a discussion of the governor’s race here. I want to make it clear from the outset that I am not promoting or endorsing any particular campaign. Not at all. I am still deciding what to make of all this – so some of this is just thinking out loud.
So with that said, here are those thoughts.
I don’t buy the idea that the Democrats are in disarray and hurting their November chances. All of these filings will take some time to sort out but you can make a case that the DFL attention going into the primary could be a very positive thing – even if some of it means airing a lot of dirty laundry.
The Republicans have their own divisions – they have always done better at internalizing those issues in their tribal ways. But that does not make them any less of a factor. A Pawlenty/Johnson race will probably get nastier than anything Democrats might deal with.
The catalyst of most of the Democratic activity probably centers around Keith Ellison’s decision to leave his Congressional seat and file for Minnesota Attorney General.
I think his reasoning is real, and in fact, logical. He can have more effect on dealing with the Trump administration and serve Minnesota from the AG office. California is the prime example and Ellison teaming up California AG Xavier Becerra to tag team Trump’s administration in a legal sense is a great, grand strategy.
But for Democrats, there is another aspect which is more important. With Ellison running for re-election, the CD5 raise would be a sleepy race with a slight uptick in turnout to vote for Governor. But the Ellison filing turns CD5 into a Democratic turnout juggernaut. Our core voters will be weighing in on a CD5 primary and November election. The national interest will be significant with Ilhan Omar in the mix. And with her legislative seat now in play, and that, in turn, will affect turn out in 60B.
So who benefits? Frankly, it probably benefits the endorsed Erin squared ticket. These are the most metro and most blatantly liberal voters in the state – and they will be coming out in the primary in droves.
So there is one point to ponder.
But let’s look at it in another way. Lori Swanson and Rick Nolan provide a working base in the 8th District. Democratic mining and 2nd Amendment people can find a home in that campaign. And again, it will probably benefit turnout in the Range, where there still is a basic core Democratic base. This ticket has more geographic balance, however, Swanson has alienated a significant portion of the core liberal vote.
Walz/Flanagan has been counting on an appeal to a statewide constituency. Their base will be in the rural first district. The early addition of Flanagan to the ticket was a wise choice. She automatically brings in a progressive base appeal – balances the ticket geographically -and enhances the youth and female vote. That strategy may have gotten a hiccup from all the last minute filings. The statewide strategy is still a good one meant for the general election – but now it will have to overcome a primary electorate which will be more left than expected.
So, any issue of disunity in the party is probably going to be made up for in turnout expectations. Democrats will be very engaged. Candidates that can emerge from the primaries without getting into negative warfare, will have a clear path to win in November.
Like I said before, I have the feeling that the negative aspects of a primary contest are larger for Republicans because the Trump schism in the party will have to be aired out in public. Don’t underestimate that problem.
So, when you see people shaking their heads about “Democratic disarray”, don’t buy into it. The interest is with Democrats and if the GOP thinks they have a window of turning Minnesota red – they are wrong.