Wednesday, August 08, 2018

One week out

Primaries are next week in Minnesota. I haven't written about them yet. Probably should. Quick synopsis, starting with the governor's race:

Governor: I'm not particularly impressed with any of the DFL candidates, but it may not matter because this election is shaping up as a test of the overall strength of the DFL machine and its support system, especially Education Minnesota and the Alliance for a Better Minnesota. If you've been watching the ads on television, most of the portside messaging is attacking Tim Pawlenty, who apparently was governor a long time ago, maybe succeeding Karl Rolvaag, but one can't be sure. I would guess Tim Walz will prevail, but there's very little to recommend him. He has spent six terms in Washington as a backbencher, but he's less frightening than Betty McCollum, so he has the institutional support. Lori Swanson must be gaining, because there was a big hit piece in the Intercept about her. This is largely being ignored in the local media, of course, but I suspect Walz will make use of it in the next week. The earlier attacks on Swanson's running mate, crusty old Rick Nolan, were designed to help the endorsed DFL candidates, Erin Murphy and Erin Maye Quade, who appear to be running a distant third, despite (or perhaps because of) the DFL endorsement. The Erins are a little loony, frankly, and while they carry the DFL endorsement, the party apparat would prefer Walz or Swanson sotto voce, because they (theoretically) wouldn't get destroyed on the Iron Range. The best news about this lineup is Walz giving up his congressional seat, which should be good pickup possibility for the Republicans in November. Advantage: Walz, for no particular reason.

On the Republican side, we have Jeff Johnson, who I personally like quite a lot, against the aforementioned Pawlenty. Pawlenty is probably going to win, but Johnson, who got chloroformed by Mark Dayton in the 2014 election, is giving it a go despite an obvious lack of resources. Pawlenty wasn't a terrible governor, but I'm not sure he deserves another go. Either of these two fellows would be a big improvement over Mark Dayton or the collection of nasties on the other side, but I'm not sure either has what it takes to win an election when ABM and the teacher's union are done with them. Johnson is trying to get nastier, but I'm not sure he's going to be tough enough to stand up to the onslaught. If Pawlenty wins, he'll have all the money he needs, but he'll have a muddled message and an indifferent record to defend, making him the de facto embattled incumbent. Pawlenty barely won in 2006 over the sputtering Mike Hatch, who didn't have the trained assassins of ABM working for him. If Johnson prevails, I'm guessing the big money folks behind T-Paw will take their bankrolls and go home. Advantage: Pawlenty.

Next: Attorney General.

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