Everyone was shocked or so they pretended. I wasn't, particularly, having written previously that Trump's strong showing in Minnesota hurt her the most among potential DFL gubernatorial candidates. A hot house flower of urban, ultra-liberal elites, tied to a mediocre record of her Governor boss wasn't going to win statewide where Trump had carried 78 out of Minnesota's 87 counties.
This week Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota's First Congressional District entered the gubernatorial race, showing up replete in a red flannel jacket when filing his papers in Saint Paul. Optics: something Minnesota republicans rarely demonstrate they understand. He had signaled his intention for a few weeks and followed through. DFLers were ecstatic. For good reason.
* * * *
Minnesota republicans currently are stuck with either House Speaker Kurt Daudt or Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek as their leading contenders for the republican endorsement for governor. Others will surely enter the race and they should, if for no other reason than to give the faithful the pretense of a competitive race. Kabuki is what passes for real political struggles on that side of the aisle, cycle after cycle.
The problem is that the entry of Walz demonstrates in real time my thesis since November 8th: Minnesota democrats understand Trump's strong showing here far better than the petri dish, donor based and fed Minnesota republicans, especially the fetid House caucus. Of course it's not a sure thing that Walz will be the DFL nominee but that hardly contradicts my point.
Indeed, the legislative session thus far not only gives no sign of contradicting it but instead confirms it. Budgets released by each republican controlled chamber show no meaningful difference between republican control and DFL control: the differences are of degree, not of kind. How much money should republicans shell out and to whom is the order of the day. Please clap.
Governor Dayton wants a 46 billion dollar budget, republicans hold the line at 45. The number 500 million comes to mind. Both sides will declare victory and republicans are sure to cue the usual suspects pretending to depth & substance on "Almanac" or any other local political television show I don't watch because they insult my intelligence. Republican lobbyists, a jilted lover seeking media redemption, political hacks: no thanks.
* * * *
I recently had a high ranking MNGOP party official tell me flat out that "candidates don't matter." I'm not sure I've recovered.
But that's the mindset of too many in the Minnesota republican establishment: mouth the right words (which are?) and run against the democrats (how, precisely, given "our" proposed budgets?) and we'll win. The political love that dare not speak its name is Trump but here we are: not Oscar Wilde but the dumbest republicans in the nation.
All of this is the consequence of a party that doesn't know what it believes. After the House budget came out, I tweeted: "What is the case for a republican governor in 2018?"
The question remains unanswered.