Monday, October 18, 2010

MN Gov Race: Pre-positioning The Scapegoats

Two weeks from tomorrow Minnesotans will learn if they have a democrat governor for the first time since 1986. Mind you, this real possibility is being discussed in what by all accounts looks to be a wave election of some strength in 2010. Endorsed GOP candidate Tom Emmer has never once lead in any polls save one. The third party candidate is fading in accordance with historical experience. The democrats betrayed their own formidable endorsed candidate and gave the primary victory to a profoundly flawed man whose failure in elected office has been on previous, spectacular display. How did Minnesota republicans get to this sorry state?

Before one can answer that question, it is worthwhile to observe the actions of the Emmer borg who, candidly, are pre-positioning the scapegoats for use in an Emmer loss. It's never them, you see, nor their frequently appalling political instincts. MC wanted to position itself ahead of this pre-positioning so that if the unthinkable happens, and Mark Dayton becomes governor, readers will at least have our view without questioning whether we ourselves are spinning after the fact.

MC supported Marty Seifert because we thought he could win. MC is old school: politics is first about getting elected and then purity tests or whatever is the fad du jour can be applied. This is also sometimes known as the Buckley rule: run the most conservative candidate who can win. Once in office, by all means get that man or woman to tack right on certain issues if you don't feel they are sufficiently so. It doesn't work in reverse, however, but you'd be hard pressed to get any in the Emmer borg to admit such.

Consequently, the first scapegoat of which we are hearing is Seifert supporters abandoning the endorsed candidate. This is true only if you want it to be. MC knows of no Seifert supporters who didn't fall strongly into line after Emmer won the endorsement at the state convention. More, there simply aren't enough of them to matter statewide. We insist on reality.

Another scapegoat is the RINO: republican in name only. Such creatures exist, we've no doubt, but not in large numbers in Minnesota. Liberal leaning republicans (laughably called moderates by the old media/democrats) have already left the party. They are not missed. Consequently, the call for RINOs now to show up in numbers and support Emmer is a bit quixotic to our mind. One can't credibly dismiss RINOs at the front end and then clamor for them at the back end when election day is nigh. Worse, one has no legitimacy in blaming them for any subsequent loss. But that's some of the pre-positioning we have been noticing. We're having none of it.

An eternal favorite scapegoat of the borg is "the Party," both before and after the convention. In fact, it's not going too far to suggest some Emmer support was premised on sticking it to the party. How brave! Outre! And pointless, if not futile. The party exists to elect republicans to office in Minnesota. For the first time in something like 32 years, the party filled all house and senate races with candidates. Apart from this crucial objective, the party's only real interest thus far was a well run, fair and enjoyable state convention. By any objective measure, it succeeded in fine fashion but collected its reward from the "no good deed goes unpunished" department. Has everyone in the borg forgotten the previous management of the party? MC hasn't and refuses to be blind to exceptional improvement. If Emmer loses, watch for party bashing from those wishing to absolve themselves. If Emmer *does* win, it will be due in large part to the consistent, focused support of the party for which it will be given absolutely no credit.

Weirdly, another RINO variation scapegoat is Governor Mitt Romney, in town today and scheduled to participate in a rally this evening. Comments on Facebook and elswhere claim he's not sufficiently conservative (code for the rampant anti-Mormon prejudice in our party?) and people will not be attending. One tone deaf commentator suggested that nutjob Ron Paul would be much better. We aren't joking though we wish we were. MC plans to be at the rally because we want to show our support for Tom Emmer as our next governor.

We cringed at Sarah Palin's endorsement of Emmer but only because she doesn't exactly play well in Minnesota. Even the republican woman running for Congress in South Dakota, Kristi Noem, took a pass on her endorsement (although Romney endorsed her; horrors!). MC is relieved Palin hasn't become more of an issue in this race but there's still time, we suppose.

After receiving the endorsement at the state convention, the Emmer campaign was very badly run indeed. MC didn't stay on the sidelines because the stakes of losing were too high. We thought the month of July would never end: 100K earning servers, tip-credit, a town hall forum/seppuku replete with a shower of pennies played endlessly on tv and the internet. Some of this was called a teaching moment. We called it political malpractice if not suicide. MC can't bring itself to recount the various DUIs that cropped up.

Eventually Team Emmer jettisoned its top staff and brought in others who know how to run a campaign. Oddly, those people can be fairly characterized as Norm Coleman's people. Oh dear, the Emmer borg considers Norm to be RINO number one. They've been painfully silent as to what this development makes Emmer. RINO-lite? Who knows. Who cares. A focus on actually winning was long overdue. Whether it came in time we'll find out soon enough. But there can be no denying the improvement of the candidate himself and the campaign after new staff. Kudos to both.

During the rocky summer of the campaign, MC noticed that some of the most prominent supporters of Emmer were AWOL. Curious. Whither Vin Weber? Brian Sullivan? Not exactly in the front trenches defending Tom or helping to steady the campaign. Smelling a possible win in the Demmer campaign, Weber signed on. Opportunism rarely is this well executed.

Perversely, it was the Seifert campaign manager who was routinely on "At Issue" and other political shows ably defending the Emmer campaign, its issues and the party in general. The contrast in integrity could hardly be greater.

Finally, we saw Tim Pawlenty being utilized by the Emmer campaign to mixed results. MC is no fan of the governor but thought he should have been used much earlier in the election cycle. Why? Because Pawlenty can only help Emmer win. Remember winning?

Yet many supported Emmer because he was seen to be the non-Pawlenty. Seifert was Pawlenty-lite. This was their calculus, not ours. In supporting Seifert at the convention, we were asked repeatedly if we wanted a third Pawlenty term. To which we replied: "It beats a first Dayton term."

We'll be working flat out for Emmer and other republican candidates in the frantic last two weeks of the election year. Having seen disastrous one-party rule in Washington, DC, we'll be agog if the same comes to Minnesota next month. If it does, Minnesota republicans will have a lot to reflect upon but the discussion will not be lead by those who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

If Emmer does win, our analysis still applies but only with a caveat from Bob Dylan: "I can't help it, if I'm lucky."