Friday, August 18, 2006 


A couple of quick hits, as I try to ease back into writing for NSP.

First, Sen. Becky Lourey was on MPR this afternoon speaking about her gubernatorial candidacy and answering questions. The radio appearance is proof that, yes, she really is alive and kicking, but she hasn't mounted a terribly strong primary challenge. However, there are rumblings that the powers-that-be aren't particularly pleased with Hatch's performance as a candidate so far; his campaign-on-the-cheap idea, relatively poor polling and smattering of bad press can't have won many doubters over. For better or worse, the odds are long that a little buyer's remorse will translate into serious support for Sen. Lourey. Still, Hatch is making a mistake in (apparently) paying so little attention to his primary challenge. Then again, Hatch seems to have been sleepwalking since the convention, and he doesn't seem to have much attention for his Republican opponent, either.

My personal beef with the AG is his extremely disappointing refusal (warning: MDE) to personally endorse DFL-endorsed AG candidate Steve Kelley. Hatch, as the endorsed candidate, has a responsibility to the DFL to support the ticket. Just as establishment DFLers are now rightly expected to support him over Lourey, Hatch must support Kelley, no matter who else is in the race. If he is truly not willing to do so, he should renounce the DFL endorsement. His waffling here makes me worry that he's not a team player, something critical for our gubernatorial candidate.

Oh, and Mike? Replace this disaster. I will do it for free, and I'm not kidding.

Tim Walz's campaign has a new blog up. We'll see how good it will be, but I'm not holding my breath. Blogging doesn't seem to be an ideal medium for campaigns, especially at the congressional level.

Gil Gutknecht is embroiled in a mini-scandal. Perhaps he doesn't understand how we truck drivers in the tubes like our internets. Of course, he might not even be on the ballot in November. Even if he is, his race is now the 39th closest in the country. Times are tough.

Finally, help Patty fund her campaign.

Note: I've done some badly needed updating of the blogroll. Several blogs that have gone quiet have been removed (does anyone remember Kelly Doran?), and I've added Bluestem Prairie to the blogroll. It's a great blog that's covering the Gutknecht vs. Walz race in the 1st CD. I haven't written much about it (see some coverage above), but it's one of the sleeper races that could be pivotal for Democrats' chances of retaking the House in 2006. I'm keeping an eye on a couple of newer blogs that are possibilities for addition as well.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006 

AG Endorsement Analysis

Steve Kelley was endorsed by the DFL State Central Committee on Saturday. Unfortunately for him, it won't matter much.

Under normal circumstances, a party endorsement in a contested primary brings a lot of big perks: money in the war chest, voter information, support from respected names, and, perhaps most importantly in a low-profile race like this, name recognition. Of course, these are far from normal circumstances. The only thing that matters now for Kelley, Bill Luther, and Lori Swanson is name recognition. I believe that Luther has the edge as of today.

The AG race is a low-profile matter even in the best campaigns. Because it comes to the voters at the same time as the other constitutional officers, the entire Legislature, the U.S. House, and sometimes the U.S. Senate seat, the average voter is not paying a lot of attention to the race in particular. This is particularly true in a quiet primary in September, before political attention becomes focused. In short, few primary voters are likely to have heard of Kelley as an AG candidate, to have heard of Luther in the past few years, or to ever have heard of Lori Swanson. The person whose name is in a voter's mind when they walk into the booth on the 12th will likely be winning her vote.

With very little meaningful press coverage of the endorsement on Saturday, Kelley has not raised his name recognition much. Further, with his particular opponents in this race, the fundraising and support that would ordinarily be realized by an endorsed candidate will not be as available to Kelley. Luther, an experienced fundraiser, will give Kelley a run for his money (pun intended), though with such a short timeframe money's impact will be minimal. Swanson, on the other hand, has Mike Hatch's backing and is assured of some of the institutional support that he has enjoyed. However, none of it matters without name recognition. Here is where Luther has the clearest and most important advantage: as a former U.S. Congressman, he has a natural constituency whose size is unrivaled by that of Kelley, who represents a relatively small number of people, and Swanson, who doesn't represent anyone at all.

Had I posted this weekend, I would have been on the no-endorsement bandwagon, for the sole reason that this whole affair has futher weakened the already-questionable power of the DFL endorsement. With the extremely short time between the SCC meeting and the primary, Luther and Swanson not competing, and with Kelley's chances on the 12th not much above 1 in 3, an endorsement just didn't make enough of a splash in the race to make it worthwhile. Regardless, it has been made, and we'll see how much it helps Kelley on Sep. 12th. Remember to get out and vote, whether it's for Kelley or for ABK. If I have one, I'll write up an endorsement of my own in early September.

UPDATE: Here's some evidence that Kelley won't enjoy some of that support that he otherwise might. What is Hatch thinking?

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