“The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” – Abraham Lincoln.
As a matter of full disclosure, I’m a worker-bee volunteer at the Tony Hernandez for Congress campaign.
When I mention this to people in my relentlessly-DFL neighborhood – and among some of my stalkers on Twitter – I get some fairly predictable responses:
- “Wow. Sounds like a difficult race“. Stipulated!
- “You are teh looser! Bettty MacGolum will win teh race, and you shoud not even try two stop her!” More below.
The “why” is easy; to win. To send the first Republican to Congress since the 1940s from CD4. Not to “move the needle”, or to make the DFL spend money to keep Betty in office, although both will be byproducts of a campaign to win the Fourth CD. But this isn’t about half-measures and consolation prizes; it’s about winning.
Of course it’s a difficult race. In 2010 – as good a year for the GOP as we’ve seen in recent years – Betty McCollum trounced Teresa Collett by 2:1 which, ironically, is the same margin of IQ that Teresa had and has over the Congresswoman. Name every candidate in recent memory in the Filthy Fourth – Ed Matthews in 2008., Obi Sium in 2006, Patrice Battaglia in ’04, Linda Runbeck in ’00. Every one of them would have made a better Congressperson than Betty McCollum who, near as we can tell, serves no purpose other than pom-pom girl for Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.
(No, seriously – read and listen to her. She talks like a junior high kid trying to get through a civics class presentation. Look at her website sometime; she seems inordinately proud of having rid America of the scourge of National Guard ads at NASCAR events – which seems to be her signal accomplishment. Or something).
Nobody doubts that this is going to be a very, very tough race. Just as the CD8 race in 2010 and the CD6 bout in 2008 were very, very tough races. Nobody doubts that the DFL considers CD4 “their” turf. And for the next ten years – until the next round of redistricting, with ten more years of DFL mismanagement driving more and more people out of Saint Paul and its’ more DFL-addled inner ‘burbs – it may well stay that way. That’s life.
But CD4 isn’t the same district it was in 2010.
The way I see it, there are five paths to victory for Tony Hernandez. And he is going to need to take all five of them for this to be a victory, or even an especially close race.
It’s Not Your Grampa’s Fourth CD - Redistricting didn’t do Betty any favors this time. Where the old Fourth was as solidly DFL as could have been designed – Saint Paul and a bunch of DFL-addled inner ‘burbs – the New Fourth includes the entire swath east of Saint Paul all the way to the Saint Croix River, including Woodbury, Lake Elmo, Stillwater, and a slew of other suburbs full of people who, in many cases, fled the blight that the DFL brought to places like Saint Paul., Roseville and Maplewood. They’ve spent years working hard, building communities run in many cases by good, solid, thrifty, competent conservative GOP city and county governments – working far to hard to see it all dumped in the sewer of incompetent, spendthrift, venal DFL perfidy that seems to have chased them down. This is especially true of the wave of minorities who’ve moved to places like Woodbury, seeking decent schools and streets safe from that most noxious DFL constituency, petty criminals.
This is especially vital for Asian-American voters – those who moved up and out of Saint Paul to Woodbury because they were tired of a school system that marginalized their young men, and the ones who still live there and whose businesses along University have been sacrificed by the New Mandarins of the Met Council.
And for Latino voters, who came to America to find the kind of opportunity that McCollum seems to think awaits them only by dint of Government favor.
There’s also the little matter of all those Stillwater people sitting in endless traffic jams all summer because of the years McCollum spent opposing a new Stillwater bridge (before shamelessly flip-flopping).
It’s possible they may vote DFL. We’re going to try to fix that.
Betty Is Long Past Her Shelf Date - McCollum has been in Congress for what? Ten years? And the interesting thing is this – election in, election out, her numbers just keep dropping. Wave year or slow year, fewer and fewer people turn out to vote for her. Oh, the unions keep funding her, and lavishly so, but when it comes to actual voters, even in landslide Democrat years, people just don’t care about her that much.
And they don’t have to – in a “safe” district where the DFL can traditionally run a set of wind-up chattering teeth and count on 55% of the vote.
But the Fourth isn’t like that any more. It used to be a 70-30 district, maybe 65-35 in a bad year. Now it’s probably more like 60-40. Which is still a tough race – but it’s also about where the 8th CD was two years ago. And we know how that turned out.
No Coattails: The DFL can usually count of 40-odd percent of Minnesotans voting for whatever piece of crap the Democrats endorse for President, Govenror or Senate. It’s a fact of life.
But Americans are much worse off than they were four years ago. And to the extent Minnesotans are better-off, it’s because of GOP policies held to by Tim Pawlenty against the DFL’s best efforts, and by a GOP majority against Mark Dayton’s obstruction.
Now, the DFL’s paid PR arms – Common Cause and Alliance for a Better Minnesota – will be doing their best to try and obscure and confuse that fact. It may even work – the 2010 gubernatorial election showed that 43% of Minnesotans are ill-informed, incurious, or just gullible – but they’ve got their work cut out for them, because in this election, Barack Obama is going to have all the coat-tails of a Daisy Duke tube top.
It’s Not Your Grandfather’s GOP: While the Fourth CD GOP seems to be planning to be irrelevant in the coming election, it’s a different GOP than in previous years. The Ron Paul surge brought a flood of new, passionate voters, activists and candidates to the fore. In the past, I’ve challenged them to make sure they express some of that passion down-ticket from Ron Paul and Kurt Bills – and to a gratifying extent, many of them are. There are more young Republicans running credible campaigns this year than in any year I can remember; unlike previous years when half the GOP legislative candidates were “warm bodies on the ballot” that didn’t fund-raise or door-knock, every single Republican race in CD4 this year is a real effort.
And that’s not all. Four years ago, when it came to outreach among New Americans and minorities, the GOP had nowhere to go but up; it couldn’t have gotten any worse. But over the past two years, conservatives – especially Dan Severson and his crew – have been actually doing the long-neglected work of building relationship among all those New Americans. Will it make a difference in this election? Perhaps – and the effort is as much about 2020 as about 2012.
So will the combination of newbie fervor, outreach and Obama and Dayton’s underwhelming record make a difference?
Just Plain Passion: Tony’s running a hard, aggressive race. He’s got some good people working on his campaign – one of the fruits of the previous 4th CD GOP “establishment’s” effort to find and train campaign-management talent. The campaign has nothing to lose, everything to gain, and is doing something the GOP in the 4th has tried before – taking the battle to the enemy – but hasn’t had the resources to pull off.
Will those five paths lead Tony to the Capitol? Well, if I, a simple volunteer, have anything to say about it, absolutely.
Will it be a brutally tough race? Absolutely. But I’ll send you back to the Lincoln quote at the top.
And of course, these races don’t happen without help. Tony’s campaign needs volunteers – and unlike some previous campaigns in the district, if you volunteer, you will be put to work!
And of course, money. Betty McCollum can count on her masters, the government unions, to prop her up with close to a million dollars this cycle (because “Money in politics is evil”, as long as it’s not Democrat money). If Tony’s gonna win – or qualify for any of the big national donors – he’s gotta earn money here at home. If you can pony up a few bucks, please do.
Jesse Ventura was nothing but a fraternity prank run amok. If you want to really shock the world – as in, make Chip Cravaack’s victory look like a fart in a tornado – let’s give Tony’s campaign a push.