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A Final Look At The Minnesota Races

With four days to go, let’s run down the outlook in Minnesota one more time.  I’ll do them in an order that can only make sense to a mind as disorganized as mine.  :-)

– Obviously Safe Democrat seats:  MN -04 (Betty McCollum) and MN-05 (Keith Ellison).  One would like to think that the ethically-challenged Ellison could be beaten, but it’s just too Democratic a district.  Ellison’s opponent, Joel Demos, has forced a little bit of Democrat money to be spent there, though, so we can thank him for that, as well as this good ad.

– Not-So-Obviously Safe Democrat seat:  MN-07 (Collin Peterson).  One would think that a Democrat in an R+5 district would be in at least some position to worry in this cycle, but Peterson seems to be immune to it.  A lot of this comes from the fact that he seems to subscribe to the rather odd notion that a member of the House Of Representatives should, you know, represent his district.  Peterson voted against both cap-and-tax and Obamacare, and that’s why Barney Frank is in more danger than Peterson is.

– Obviously Safe Republican Seat:  MN-02 (John Kline).  This is my home district.  If I wasn’t someone who actually paid attention to this sort of thing, I wouldn’t even have any idea who Kline’s opponent is.  I have seen precisely two signs for Kline’s opponent:  one was at the MN State Fair at the Democrats’ booth, and the other was in the window of the local Democrat election headquarters.  Kline’s opponent (in case you haven’t heard, and based on the publicity, she might not have heard, either) is former state representative Shelley Madore, who won the election for my state district’s seat in 2006, then lost it in 2008.  If you’re a Democrat who lost in 2008 — yeah.  Madore’s there because someone has to be.

– Safe-In-This-Cycle Republican seat:  MN-03 (Erik Paulsen).  Paulsen represents an R+0 district, so in a more heavily Democratic year, this might a race to worry about.  Not this year, though.

– Seats That I Am Lumping Together To Make An Offbeat Prediction:  MN-06 (Michele Bachmann) and MN-08 (Jim Oberstar).  So what in the world could these two seats possibly have in common?  Not much, really.  One is a powerful committee chairman, the other is a two-term incumbent who narrowly won against a political neophyte twice.  One is a darling of the conservative movement who was heavily targeted by the opposing party back when they still thought they could play offense, the other was about as safe as they come, having been in that seat since before your humble author was even born.  (Oberstar won the seat in 1974, while the man currently behind the keyboard was born in 1975.)  One is in a tight race right now, and the other isn’t — and it’s exactly the opposite of what you would have thought even as recently as three months ago.  Oberstar is getting a scare from Republican Chip Cravaack; at least one poll had Cravaack within the margin of error.  Bachmann, meanwhile, has been trouncing State Senator Tarryl Clark, a well-known proud tax-and-spend liberal who chose precisely the wrong cycle to try to run as a proud tax-and-spend liberal.  One of the Democrats’ biggest laments from this cycle will be all the money they wasted on this race.  While I’d love to see Oberstar lose, I believe he will still hang on, but here’s the offbeat prediction I alluded to:  Bachmann will win by more than Oberstar does.

– The Seat That’s Flipping:  MN-01 (Tim Walz).  I originally grew up in Mankato, which is right in the center of this district, and I have cousins who had Tim Walz as a teacher at Mankato West High School.  He seems to be a decent fellow by all accounts.  But as a representative of this R+1 district, he’s pretty much the exact opposite of Collin Peterson — a Pelosi lapdog.  As fellow southern Minnesotan eburke has pointed out here, Walz is one of those guys who talks a good conservative game at home before doing the opposite in Washington.  He takes his veteran status and NRA endorsement and tries to fool people into thinking he’s a conservative.  He was able to get by with it in 2006, when incumbent Gil Gutknecht got caught up in the Abramoff scandal, as well as in 2008, when he had no serious challenger in a Democrat wave year.  But now that he has the dual millstones of Obamacare and cap-and-trade around his neck, he’s ripe for the picking, and Randy Demmer is just the man to do it.  When the upcoming Crimson Tide became apparent, Demmer finally started getting some well-deserved attention, and his fundraising has been very good going against Walz’s big union war chest.  The only poll I’ve seen on this race had Walz up 46-41, but the poll used a 2006 turnout model.  Not likely this time around.  Demmer will restore this seat where it belongs.

– Oh Yeah, Don’t Want To Forget This Race:  Governor (open, current Governor is Tim Pawlenty).  This is a three-way race between Democrat and former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton, Republican Tom Emmer, and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner, a former RINO.  Horner is obviously not going to win, and any dropoff in his numbers will likely benefit both Emmer and Dayton equally, so we’ll ignore him.  As much as I like what I’ve seen from Emmer, this race is ultimately about Mark Dayton, heir to the Dayton-Hudson fortune.  Aside from the money, Dayton’s biggest advantage is his name recognition, and his biggest disadvantage is, well, name recognition.  He was a Senator from 2001-2006, and was about as useless as my nipples.  (Still a slight improvement over “Acting Senator” Al Fraudken in that at least he wasn’t a complete embarrassment to the state.)  He even gave himself an ‘F’ for his time there, not running for re-election.  But now we’re supposed to believe that he would somehow be more competent as a Governor?  We’ll just have to wait and see what the voters say.  Oddly enough, even though Minnesota hasn’t voted Republican in a Presidential election since 1972, we also haven’t had a Democrat in the Governor’s mansion since 1990.  Will Minnesota continue to be contrarian, or will the Crimson Tide be enough to carry Emmer to victory?  I’m predicting the latter, and by just enough to avoid getting Frankened.

See you at the polls!

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