Borrowing from Winston Churchill, it could be said — from a political point of view — that Minnesota is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside of an enigma. Perhaps that’s hyperbole, but it’s difficult to refute the fact that Minnesotans have been known for their colorful characters in state and national politics.
The national spotlight shifted to Minnesota when former wrestler and independent candidate Jesse Ventura won the governorship despite running against Democrat Hubert Humphrey, III whose surname carries much political clout in Minnesota. After Ventura served one term the people replaced him with conservative governor Tim Pawlenty who served two terms. The governorship is now held by a Democrat.
Republican Senator Norm Coleman, as well all know, lost his Senate seat to a former Saturday Night Live cast member. Al Franken managed to rally the liberal base and win 103% of the vote. Franken’s current seat was held from 1978 to 1991 by a Republican German Jewish emigre from Berlin, Rudy Boschwitz.
Minnesota has been loyal to its native sons. Richard Nixon failed to carry the state in 1968 while running against former Vice President and Minnesota native Hubert Humphrey. Nixon did carry the state in the 1972 election — this is the last time a Republican has done so. Carter won it in 1976, but had Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale as his running mate. Reagan lost the state in 1980 and 1984 when he faced Mondale in the general election. Reagan carried 49 states with the exception of Minnesota (and the District of Columbia) in 1984.
How would Minnesotans react to Tim Pawlenty being selected as Mitt Romney’s running mate? Would the state possibly swing right as it occasionally does in gubernatorial and US Senate elections? Minnesota has politicians as far left as Al Franken and as far right as Michele Bachmann.
Let me conclude by saying that I don’t believe the polls. I won’t be complacent in this election, but I think Romney will win and I don’t think it will be even particularly close. Considering the disastrous presidency we have on hand it isn’t unrealistic to think Minnesota may lean right if former popular two-term governor Tim Pawlenty is chosen as Romney’s running mate.