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Thursday, June 08, 2006 

Endorsement: Long-Awaited Gubernatorial Selection

And now, ladies and gents, the moment you've all been waiting for: the North Star Politics endorsement for governor of Minnesota.

And it goes to no one; I honestly cannot decide who I like. Each candidate has a strength and a weakness, and I am simply unable to decide which strengths are stronger and which weaknesses are less weak.

AG Mike Hatch, the front-runner, is a very good candidate. His obvious strength is his hold on the DFL faithful and the electability that his status as a constitutional officer (elected in 2002, a bad year for Democrats) implies. It's quite likely that he'll be endorsed, and, if so, will win a primary against Sen. Becky Lourey hands-down. The problem with Hatch is that he's not very exciting and, as Minntelect says more than once, is a polarizing, partisan figure on the order of Tim Pawlenty, which will put him at a serious disadvantage right out of the gate. He could quite possibly win the race if he creates a more positive image of himself, but the chances of his doing this aren't great, to put things mildly.

Sen. Becky Lourey apparently stands in second place for the endorsement. She has a tenuous grip on the left wing ("The Democratic Wing", as Paul Wellstone might say) of the DFL, which she will be fighting with Steve Kelley for at the convention. Sen. Lourey has an inspiring personal story and a strong campaign organization (see her website and the apparent volume of her delegate contacts). In contrast with Hatch, though, her electability is in serious question - are voters willing to accept a candidate who is as unabashedly left-wing as she is?

Sen. Steve Kelley appears to be in third place going into Saturday. He will be competing with Sen. Lourey for the left wing's votes, though he may pick up a good chunk of moderates as well. Kelley's strength is his policy wonkishness; everything he does makes it clear that he knows excatly what he's talking about. He's smart, and he lets people know it, though he manages to do so without sounding arrogant. His weakness is that he's a fairly bland figure and may lack the magnetism to get the base, much less the moderates, fired up about his candidacy. This weakness may be exactly the one that loses it for him at the convention.

I honestly like all three of these candidates. They're all good people and they all will make good governors if they win the election. I'll be happy to vote for any of them; the question is about how many others will. Good luck to them all, and may the best candidate win.

I'll be following the convention with REW's liveblogging and MPR's feed (via Polinaut). Should be interesting.


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