Yesterday’s primary had a lot of moving parts – and we need to examine the whys and hows.
The revelations on Lori Swanson regarding her use of staff for campaigns sank this campaign. She faded quickly as results came in. She still won up on the range, but she was a very distant third in the metro. Tim Walz ran a strong inclusive campaign and carried through with his 1st district base (about 70% of the vote there). Surprisingly, he broke pretty even with Murphy in the Metro area and that proved to be the difference. Walz looks like a strong November candidate. Erin Murphy ran a very positive campaign and although I still think her pick of Erin Maye Quade was a metrocentric strategic mistake, the two of them had a positive effect on voters, especially the youth, and their support of Walz will be invaluable going forward.
Walz campaign gravitas was also bolstered with the upset win of Jeff Johnson over Pawlenty. Recent polling showed that Johnson was catching up, but the win was sizable and was a total and complete rejection of Pawlenty. TPaw will probably go back to his comfortable banking nest and count pocket change – but it looks like his days in MN politics are over. The question for Republicans now is, ‘will the big donors switch to Johnson?’ I guess the tell will be if the Republican Governor’s Association backs Johnson the way they promised to do for Pawlenty. I’m guessing they will wait on data to decide.
Democrats have a problem with Keith Ellison. He won the Attorney General primary handily – that might have been baked in with early voting – but the open question remains on the domestic abuse charges. It will look pretty silly if Democrats give Ellison a pass after they dumped Al Franken for far less of an issue. So this needs to be dealt with ASAP. Either Ellison gives a full and complete accounting or the State Party demands it, but this has to be defined within the Party structure and not let the Republicans run with their own definition of events. It is disturbing because Doug Wardlow, the Republican AG candidate, (who won with less than 50% of the vote), would be easily beatable if we had a candidate without this baggage.
The Democratic Congressional races produced good candidates. Dan Feehan will take on Hagedorn and has a good chance in the 1st. Angie Craig in the 2nd is probably already ahead of Lewis. Dean Phillips looks strong in the 3rd against Paulsen. Betty McCollum seems locked in for the 4th, as is Collin Peterson in the 7th. Ian Todd will have a quixotic campaign in the 6th against Emmer – Emmer looks safe for now. In the 5th, the primary went to Ilhan Omar – and since the 5th is heavily Democratic, she should be the next woman Congressman in Minnesota. Also the first Somali woman which will garner her national headlines again. Her rise in the party has been nothing short of meteoric. That leaves the 8th and the primary produced a strong win for Joe Radinovich. I like Joe – he is personable and understands the delicate nature of issues in the 8th district. I think he can navigate all of this as well as anybody and is the Democrats strongest candidate to win. Pete Stauber is now on Trump’s personal endorsement list, so the Trumpster will be back on the range soon. Which actually might not be a bad thing for Democrats as his tariff policy rips into the Minnesota economy.
In the legislative area, Mohamed Noor will be the DFL candidate in Ilhan Omar’s legislative seat. He has been active there a long time and will probably keep that district DFL. Robert Bierman won his primary in Erin Maye Quade’s old seat. There were 4 other candidates but Bierman was endorsed by the local party and a couple of candidates withdrew before the primary date. Still he has been active in doorknocking and phone banking to secure the win. Another 5 way race in 62B saw Hodan Hassan emerge the winner in a close race. The unique thing about this district is that the DFL side had over 7500 votes in the primary, while the unopposed Republican had 281. Think this is safe DFL. In 22A, Max Kaufman defeated Brian Abrahamson in the DFL primary by 7 percentage points. Abrahamson is a frequent DFL Party critic, but won’t be running in November. In 40B, Samantha Vang bested Cindy Yang by just 118 votes to win the primary -(there was a great pun in there if Samantha’s last name was Ying instead of Vang). In 31B, the return of former Rep. Tom Hackbarth was foiled by Cal Bahr’s 7 point win. In 26A, Tina Liebling is officially back on the ballot, winning her primary convincingly. And Rep. Ray Dehn, who ran for Minneapolis mayor and finished second to Jacob Frey, held off a strong challenge from Lisa Neal-Delgado to eke out a 5 point primary win.
The ballot is set (at least for now) and the November election looms ahead of us. A lot of things will happen between now and then, but let’s ride the Democratic enthusiasm and make this election count. The Blue Tsunami needs to emerge and turn that “Red Wave” into a self destruct “Red Tide”. Work hard.