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Friday, March 24, 2006 

Doran Campaign Post-Mortem

It should be known by one and all at this point: Kelly Doran has ended his bid for governor, mentioning as his only reason his obligations to his family. His release can be found here.

I liked Doran. MDE did too, as well as BBMN, and even the Kelley campaign had nice things to say. I don't think anybody out there had anything really bad to say about Doran, either personally or in terms of his campaign. As the Kelley blog post says, wrong candidate, wrong race, wrong time. I don't doubt that Doran's a good, honest guy who cares about the future of his state and his country. Unfortunately for him, Doran couldn't get away from being just "the candidate with all the money". Besides his centrist approach (not a strategy that woos primary voters) Doran had little to distinguish himself from the others. He was okay, but in a tremendously strong field of gubernatorial candidates like the DFL has this year, he never stood a chance without some kind of hook, a way to get voters tuned in. His "I'm not a politician" talk was okay, but not good enough. Being a novice works both ways; it might get you some attention, but it's going to be very difficult to overcome the inexperience that being a novice entails.

One big question Doran's exit has created is that about Sen. Sheila Kiscaden's (IP/DFL-30) future plans. Kiscaden is a hugely appealing lieutenant candidate for each of the three remaining candidates, especially with Rochester as the new top batteground in outstate politics, if not for the entire state. Kiscaden could rustle up support in Rochester for whichever candidate she runs with, which could mean a lot. I'd regard the speculation that she might run for re-election as quite unlikely; Ann Lynch, apparently a Kiscaden ally, has been endorsed as her successor. I do hope Kiscaden chooses to run with another candidate; she's too valuable an asset to the DFL to sit on the sidelines in this race.

Doran's run disappoints me only in the fact that he spent so much money on his two races, reportedly as much as $1.6 million which has all come to naught. I have no idea if Doran continues to hold political ambitions; the man may never again run for so much as dogcatcher. If he does harbor such ideas, however, he could better spend the money that he spent over the course of the last year investing in the party. $1.6 million, probably not a huge amount of money for a guy like Kelly Doran, could go a very long ways in investing in local DFLers' campaigns, local party infrastructure, and larger units such as the DFL House and Senate caucuses and the DFL Party itself. Such a move would build enormous goodwill among the kinds of people whose support he would need in any future run for statewide office. If Doran spends the next two years building his party, he could be an extremely attractive candidate for Sen. Coleman's seat or any other office that he wants to win.

Better luck next time, Mr. Doran. I mean that. Good luck in whatever you choose in the future.

UPDATE: The Rochester Post-Bulletin is reporting that Sen. Sheila Kiscaden will not be seeking re-election.
Kiscaden ruled out running again for her Senate seat. She said Ann Lynch, the DFL's endorsed candidate for the seat, had offered to step aside so she could run, but Kiscaden said she declined the offer.
The possibility of her entering as another candidate's lieutenant remains open judging from the article, however.

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